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27 January,2018

How To Banish Box Rest Boredom

Some cope with it better then others, but box-rest is never ideal for any horse. From time to time we have horses on box-rest for one reason or another so here are my top tips on how to banish box-rest boredom…..

  1. Comfort

First and foremost the space that your horse is confined has to be made as spacious and comfortable as possible, so lots of comfy, clean bedding and we like to give ours nice big bankings to either rest against when lying down or protect them from injuring themselves on the walls and fixtures when rolling. We skip out the stables all day long whenever we see a horse has dunged to keep the stable as clean as possible. Horses like to move around in their boxes so keeping the beds as clear as possible helps keep the bedding cleaner and also preserves their bandages. We’re really lucky to have big, airy stables with individual outside windows which provide great ventilation but also a bit of a view for the horses.

  1. Food and Water

Unless there’s a particular reason not to, I give our horses ad-lib hay in the stable and if need be, double up hay nets to slow down fast eaters. This way the horses always have access to forage just like if they were in their field or paddock and it can help keep them busy. Some horses benefit from soaked or steamed hay to prevent or control any stable-related allergies or breathing issues. We give our horses a hard feed twice a day anyway – morning and evening – so any medication prescribed by the vets can be added to those. I like to add a pre and probiotic to their feeds as well, to support their guts with the change in management and where possible hand-graze so the horses still have fresh grass going through their digestive systems. Obviously, fresh water is supplied at all times and changed multiple times per day. I prefer to use buckets rather than our automatic drinkers so we can monitor how much they’re drinking.

  1. Company and Entertainment

As much as I’d rather have the horses out, its nice to provide company for anyone having to stay in. Theres lots going on during the day and a steady stream of clients coming through particularly just now with our young liveries off school for the summer. The horses really appreciate it when someone stops to give them a bit of attention. The horses use their outside windows and watch all the comings and goings which helps keep them entertained too. Horses in training come and go throughout the day so they get to have a wee sniff and maybe a bit of mutual grooming with them too. Depending on the circumstances, its nice if the horses can be taken out to graze in hand. If possible, well take them out 4 times a day for 10-15 mins for a munch and a bit of a change of scenery. They also each get a good groom, a 30 min session with the massage pad and we can also allow them the maximum 12 hours a day with magnetic boots and rug. I know of others who use mirrors, footballs, treat balls etc to help entertain their horses when they’re stuck inside.

All of these things help to keep the horses happy and sane while they’re on box rest but every horse is different and just like any other part of their management, we as their ‘people’ need to change and adapt our approach and routines in order to meet their needs and keep them happy and sound.

by Karen O’Connell of KA Equestrian


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