Is there nothing more deflating when you hear the words “box rest”? Having a horse stable bound due to illness or injury is very challenging for the horse owner. Horses are herd animals and love the freedom to be out in the fields with their fellow equine pals. To remove them from this environment for days, weeks or even months on box rest can sometimes lead to problems in the horse.
Most horses will tolerate a few days in their stable but as time goes by they can become anxious, lonely and bored. Problems such as crib biting, box walking and weaving are all signs of an unhappy horse. If the vet advice is the horse must remain stabled, then there are ways to make the recuperation time a little more interesting for them.
Here are some boredom buster ideas to help your stable bound horse:-
Make The Stable Interesting
Making the stable an interesting place for the horse on box rest will keep him entertained and make the convalesce easier to deal with. Give him a comfortable deep bed so that he can sleep and roll within the stable if needed. That is one thing a horse yearns to do is roll and after days being confined in the stable, he may need to roll within the box.
Pop hidden treats around the wooden sides of the stables such as polos or strong mints, so that he has to work to find these. Pop some apples in his drinking bowl for him to do some apple bobbing.
Treat balls are also a great way of keeping the horse moving but without overdoing it. Bank up his bed in the day time, so he has an area to move freely like pushing an old football or treat ball around. Tie up root vegetables with baling twine from the stable rafters so that he has to work for a bite of a turnip or swede.
Go and pick some grass for him or better still actually laying some bits of turf will keep him very entertained! Horses actually love playing with a piece of turf shaking it about and nibbling some welcome grass.
Use small holed haynets so then give him more of a task to eat his hay and place one or two around the stable again to keep him gently moving. Again by placing pieces of apple or treats within the haynet will keep him happy and soaking the hay will assist with fluid levels too. Another treat is actually flavouring the hay when soaking it. By placing some mint, nettle, rosehip or chamomile tea bags in the water will flavour it for a nice change to regular hay.
Place A Mirror In The Stable
Recent studies have shown that horses with separation anxieties are 60% happier being stabled with a mirror. Health complications from stress such as ulcers and gastric complaints in horse also have significant results in the treatment and recovery of such conditions, just by stabling the horses with a mirror in its box. These are inexpensive and can be fixed easily to the interior of the stable.
Spend Quality Time With Your Horse
Embrace box rest by actually spending some quality time with your horse. Give him a bath if the weather permits and take time in giving him a good groom. Practise plaiting, or pulling a mane. When you are not pressured to get to a show, then time given to these tasks can be incredibly beneficial.
Why not treat yourself and him to a massage mitt which kick starts blood flow and helps warm and relax your horse at the same time. If the injury allows, then stretch out his legs and encourage bend by making him turn to eat a carrot near his shoulder. If your horse is allowed to walk out, then lead him in hand in a safe area to stretch his legs and give him a change of scenery. However sometimes with any period of confinement, your horse will no doubt exhibit excitement with the thought of being out of his stable! So with this in mind, think carefully where you are going to walk him in hand and ensure you are protected by wearing a hat, gloves and sturdy boots.
Have a cup of coffee or tea with him near the stable door with the radio on. You never know he might enjoy Radio 1 or The Archers! If he is going to be left alone in his stable for a length of time, then leave a radio on for company. If there is another horse that is happy to come in for a few hours in the day, then having another equine friend next door will please him.
It is the owner’s despair when they have to put their horse on box rest but remember the horse does not realise the length of time ahead of him. It is just a change of routine which many adapt to with ease. Embrace this downtime and think positively about box resting your horse. Sometimes a break from competing or riding every day can be refreshing for both of you.
Working in partnership with Prime Stables Professional stable builders who will guide you through the selection of the best stable designs to suit your requirements.