Stall rest tips
Keeping your horse sane and busy while on stall rest can be challenging. It’s a sudden change of lifestyle, and requires some thoughtful planning and experimentation to keep your horse sane.
- It’s critical that every horse needs to be trained for life in a stall. Even horses that live outside 24/7. Surgery, accidents, quarantine, and travel may all require stalling your horse. This is not the time to train your horse, do this now before stalling becomes necessary. The same goes for trailering – train now to be prepared for later.
- Stall rest is especially difficult if your horse is a high-performance athlete, as the sudden elimination of exercise can make them rather “spicy.”
Hand graze your horse on stall rest for a break, some distraction, and some quality time.
Stall rest tips:
- Find some ways that you can make your horse more comfortable with medications and supplements. Consult with your veterinarian first. They know your horse and may also have some other ideas, and may even have suggestions of supplements or pharmaceuticals that can help. With sudden injuries, the transition from full-time work and turn out to stall rest can be difficult at best – pharmaceuticals can help and make it safer for your horse and you.
- Medication choices have vastly improved over the years, and not all options work for all horses. You may need to try a few out to find the best fit for your horse.
- Can your horse go out for hand grazing? I have found that some horses do much better getting out multiple times a day for a short spell, rather than only once for a longer time. Be sure to use safe handling techniques and stay on alert. Safety first – remember to never wrap any lead rope around your hands or fingers.
This horse has many eating options during stall rest – hay net inside and outside!
- You may also want to groom your horse several times a day. Many horses find this relaxing; this can take the edge off. Also, it gives you time to get those “happy places.” I have also found that some horses will like you practicing braiding; your horse may even doze off.
- I can also suggest a hay net or hay bag in the stall, far out of reach of hooves. I have known several horses that learn to kick or bang in the stalls when bored, locked up, and out of hay. As a response to a bang, they are brought more hay. This positively reinforces the kicking or banging. Stay on top of the hay bag contents and refill before it’s empty. For more on slow feeding, you can read this handy dandy article.
- Slow feeders are also available for bagged feeds, pellets, “grains”, and cubes. You can even find feeders that double as treat dispensers.
- You may also consider some toys in the stall. Several horses have loved their cat-sized stuffed animals in the stall with them. If you tie one to the stall wall, ensure the rope is not looped so your horse can get his head or hoof in. This also goes for any licks or treats you can find. Some horses also like a mirror (shatterproof) to have a “buddy.” If not, having direct sight of other horses is calming.
This is a slow feeder/treat dispenser that can occupy a horse for hours. And provides lots of entertainment for you, too!
Positive reinforcement training
- This is also a great time to teach your horse some tricks. I used a clicker method to train one of mine, about 5 minutes a day several times a day. He knows all sorts of tricks and can even identify and touch up to 5 different objects. The first trick I taught him was to “look away” so he would always respect my space.
- I also reinforced correct hand-walking behaviors with the clicker so that he was less likely to “have a moment.” He did, and I was able to quickly remind and reward the proper location of his body next to me and not above me. I followed the methods outlined in the book You Can Train Your Horse to Do Anything!: On Target Training Clicker Training and Beyond. Highly recommend.
Again, check with your veterinarian and other pro’s as you and your horse start stall rest. It doesn’t have to be too horrible, for either of you!
If you are interested in picking up a wonderful book and toys for your horse, and helping out my affiliate program because then I can keep this boat afloat, check out the book on “clicker training”. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, this comes at no additional cost to you!