Whether it’s your own horse or you are a barn owner thinking of adding another revenue stream by boarding horses that are injured, you will probably experience a horse needing special recuperative care at least once. Most of the time, it will be a leg injury of some sort and your veterinarian will recommend “stall rest.” For most of us, time off from work sounds great, but constant confinement to a working horse is anything but relaxing. But there are ways to make your horse more comfortable during his time in his stall and rehab and make his care easier for you.
First, remember that even though your horse’s body may need stall rest, his mind doesn’t. He will still need something to occupy his brain or he will FIND something to do, e.g. cribbing, stall weaving, calling to his neighbors. Locating your horse in a bright, airy stall near some activity that he can watch (e.g. wash rack, tack room) is one way to keep your horse entertained while he’s in his stall. Horse Stalls like Classic Equine Equipment’s European design with mesh or yoke stall fronts so he can see out into the aisle and mesh or partially open stall partitions so he can see his neighbors will help. Adding stall mats or a stall mattress under the footing in his stall will give him extra comfort and stability. It may also encourage him to lay down more and take the weight off the injured leg. Using a hay rack or hay net forces him to work a bit harder and eat a bit slower than if you just put the hay on the ground where he can gobble it up quickly and then have nothing to do until the next feeding. Of course, there are also numerous horse treat or other toys you can add to his stall - a simple one is an old plastic milk jug into which you cut a whole and add some treats. Tie it slightly above the horse’s head and he will learn to bump it to make a treat fall out.
After a few days or weeks, your vet may allow your horse some outside time. This usually means being turned out in a small paddock where he can walk around a bit more, but still not run and possibly reinjure himself. Whether your horse has his own paddock attached to his stall or you use a small round pen, make sure that it has an excellent footing – even, stable and mud free. One of the best ways to keep your horse protected during turnout is to use stall mats in the paddock or arena. This ensures safe and comfortable surface.
Your vet has finally given you the OK to start working your horse again. Usually he/she will recommend taking it very slow. One of the best ways to slowly and carefully bring your horse back to his former fitness level without the possibility of reinjuring himself is by using a treadmill. The treadmill lets your horse move freely in a straight line and to carry himself naturally. This safe and controlled environment lets you create the perfect exercise program for your horse – Classic Equine Equipment’s FullStride Treadmill will remember it!
Another option is using an automated equine exerciser, such as Classic Equine Equipment’s ultraciser exerciser. It has many of the same characteristics of using a treadmill, but allows you to exercise up to six horses at the same time.
In the past, many horse injuries were considered career-ending. But with today’s veterinary science and products such as stall mats, treadmills and exercisers, you can soon be back to riding your horse.