How do I handle my horse who is now on stall rest?  I don't want to fly that particular kind of kite!



This question is one that most of us will need the tools to answer at some point.  My own horses have been on stall rest, one for several months following surgery.  (not fun!)  This is especially difficult if your horse is a high performance athlete, as the sudden elimination of exercise can make him rather "spicy".




Hand graze your horse on stall rest for a break, some distraction, and some quality time. 


Find some ways that you can make you horse more comfortable.  Consult with your Veterinarian and other horse professionals before you try any of these ideas.  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 turnout to stall rest can be difficult at best - pharmaceuticals can help and make it safer for your horse (and you).   


First, find out if and when and how your horse can go out for walks or 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 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 lots of 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 really get those "happy places".   I have also found that some horses will really like you practicing braiding, your horse may even doze off.


I can also suggest a haynet or haybag in the stall, far out of reach of hooves.  I have known several horses that learn to kick or bang in the stalls when they are 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 haybag contents and refill before it's empty.  For more on slow feeding, you can read this handy dandy article.






You may also consider some toys in the stall, also.  I know several horses that have loved their cat sized stuffed animals in the stall with them.  If you tie one to the stall wall, make sure the rope is not looped so your horse can get his head or hoof in.  This also goes for any of those licks or treats that you can find. Some horses also like a mirror (shatterproof) so they have a "buddy".  If not, having direct sight to other horses is calming.  




This is a slow feeder/treat dispenser that can occupy a horse for hours.  And provide lots of entertainment for you, too!


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 that he always respected 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.


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!  What has worked for you in the past??