Hamster is the most in your pocket, curious (a.k.a. nosy) and orally fixated horse. If you need to blame a horse for “eating your homework”, Hamster is your guy. Sidenote: that is actually a true story. When Hamster is on the cross-ties, if he isn’t trying to eat them, he has been known to paw the ground incessantly for attention or for treats. When bridled, he immediately makes a play for those tasty leather reins when you slip them over his head. It was getting to the point that I would let him chew on his lead rope while I groomed him because he just wanted something in his mouth.
When I first saw the Busy Buddy from ThineLine Global, I thought it had Ham’s name all over it. We had joked so often about making him a horse-sized pacifier and this was essentially one! The Busy Buddy is simple to use. It clips onto the sides of the halter with plastic clips and an elastic nylon rope. The thick, hospital-grade Latex tubing runs through the mouth, similar to a bit, and has bit guards on both sides. When we first used it, Hamster chewed and chewed and even tried to bite it. It was pretty slobbery, which I took as a good sign – similar to a frothy mouth when they are on the bit. We had a great ride afterwards, but I didn’t want to attribute that solely to the Busy Buddy. To be quite honest, I had wanted the Busy Buddy just to entertain him; I never really gave much thought to it impacting our rides. We then decided to keep it on his halter so we could use it for approximately 25 minutes prior to every ride and for the last 4 weeks we have not missed an opportunity to use it. We even took it to the horse show and kept with the routine. He would use it before tacking up and even while being washed in the wash stall.
I am the first to admit there are so many variables when it comes to horse training. After a month of using the Busy Buddy, however, Jackie and I have definitely noticed that he feels more relaxed when you get on. The whole concept really makes sense. While standing there, he gently licks or plays with the Latex tubing, stimulating relaxation through his body and brain. You can actually see it. When he is using it, he has a sleepy and softer look to his face and the pawing and grabs for the cross ties subside.
I haven’t had a bad ride since using it, and frankly, that is reason enough for me to keep it on my grooming and show routine! It is definitely worth a try for $25! Click here to check it out.