Scottie is fairly accident prone, which has led to several stints of box rest over the years. From these experiences I have managed to perfect what works best for us which makes the whole process much easier. So here are my top tips for surviving box rest with your horse.
Plenty of Food!
Horses spend a large amount of their time eating. When they don’t have access to food they can become bored and turn their attention to other, possibly destructive, activities! Not only this, but leaving them without forage for long periods of time can also lead to them developing gastric ulcers.
Ideally they would have access to ad lib hay and perhaps a treat toy of some form. However, you may need to also consider how many calories they are consuming, especially in cases of laminitis. But you can read my guide for Food Based Enrichment for Fatties here.
Get Them Out!
For the majority of box rest cases, the vet will advise some hand walking. Don’t ignore this! Can you imagine how boring it is standing in one room all day? I try to walk Scottie around the yard in the morning and evening after I have mucked out. When I have more time I like to walk him out to have some grass.
Depending on the injury, I will also Hi Vis up and take him for a quick walk around the houses (in a bridle) or maybe even lead him round a maze of poles in the arena. Not only is this light exercise for him, but it also engages his brain to help keep him mentally stimulated.
1 Full Muck Out
When Scottie is on box rest, I only do one full muck out a day, usually in the morning. Then in the evening I just skip out the poo and tidy it up a bit. This saves time, money and makes it easier to still have something semi resembling a life! Alternatively, you may choose to semi deep litter or deep litter during this time. Especially if your horse has an injury when the more padding the better!
If your horse is standing in the stable for long periods of time, they are probably going to get swollen legs. Scottie’s back legs tend to swell when he has a few days in the stable. While the swelling itself isn’t terrible, you can prevent it with bandaging which I think makes the horse more comfortable, especially when they do have to move.
While bandaging is common practice, I much prefer a good set of stable wraps! They take a fraction of the time to put on and you don’t need to roll them back up afterwards. I good set also offers good support too! I find for long periods of time, I can get away with stable wraps on all 4 legs and then if needed, I bandage over the top on his hind legs overnight.
I love my Snuggy Hoods stable boots and regularly use them for this exact reason! But I also have a set of equilibrium stable wraps which also work well, although don’t offer quite the same support and I probably wouldn’t bandage over.
Spend Social Time With Them
While confined to their stable, your horse probably isn’t getting the social time they usually get with other horses and since you aren’t riding, you might not be grooming etc. But you should still make the effort to just spend time with your horse. Unless they are one of those horses who don’t really enjoy human company, they will probably crave some contact and interaction! Scottie can become very soppy when he is in for long periods of time and just wants some love!