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Things to do With Your Horse on Stall Rest
 By Winniefield Park   •   23rd Mar 2019   •   595 views   •   0 comments


There are many reasons why your horse may need stall rest. Injury, illness, or surgery may all require your horse be kept in the confines of its stall. And this, we know, is counter to what makes a horse happy and content. Your horse may be perfectly fine in its stall overnight, or when it knows the weather is bad. But enforced stall rest for an extended period of days, weeks, or even a month or more can be stressful for both you and your horse. So how do you manage an extended period of confinement without you both going batty?

The purpose of stall rest is to immobilize the horse while it heals or recovers. Your horse might have a strain or even a fracture. It may be recovering from surgery, or from a prolonged illness. Whatever the case, the normal exercise that includes rolling, galloping around and laying down on the ground might cause further injury or prolong the healing. So, stall rest prevents your horse from over exerting itself.

Some horses might take stall rest, especially if it’s only a short time, in stride. But other more active and energetic types might get bored and restless and will become more fractious. So there are hazards to prolonged stall rest. A horse might injure itself as it tries to ‘exercise’ in its stall. Bouncing around, kicking walls, stall walking, weaving and other habits that develop can cause problems. It may become cast as its attempts to roll. It may chew walls, bolt its food or destroy its water buckets.

First off, you’ll want to make sure that your horse’s stall is as comfortable as possible. If you can, make sure the horse can get sunlight and a view out a door or window. This will help it feel a bit less cooped up. There may be horses that are more upset if they can see other horses outside, so you’ll have to decide which is the better option. Most horses will like having another horse stabled alongside if that can be arranged even if the horses are switched out frequently. You’ll want to make sure you’re controlling the bugs in the summer since your horse won’t be able to move much to escape them.

You’ll have to give some thought to the footing in the stall. It will have to be kept scrupulously clean and appropriate bedding put down depending on why your horse is stalled.

Hay should be fed in small amounts very frequently. That way, your horse is busy eating much of the time and it won’t mash up good hay if it paces or weaves. Fresh water will have to be supplied. This might be the time to cut back on concentrates as your horse won’t be expending much energy if it’s not on pasture and not working. You might want to switch to a less rich hay too.

Keeping your horse’s mind busy will help with boredom. Stall toys, licks, old stuffies, even music can help distract your horse. This is a good time too to work on things like ground manners, tricks or other low movement behaviors you can teach your horse. Be aware though, that if your horse is getting cranky from lack of exercise that you will have to be careful it doesn’t lash out at you in frustration, or get a little too enthusiastic about ‘play time’. Your horse might be happy with some other critters around the barn, like goats, cats or chickens. But a horse really cranky from lack of outdoor time might lash out at them too.

You might be able to hand walk or graze your horse a bit. But this should only be done on the advice of your vet. This is another time when a horse can act out and try to gain a little freedom. Wear sturdy footwear, your helmet and gloves if you think your horse might play up a bit. If that isn’t possible, consider grooming, massage or stretching to keep muscles from seizing up.

As a last resort, a horse that is really unhappy might benefit, and be safer to handle with some medications to keep it calmer. Your vet can help you decide if it’s warranted and what to try.
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