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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 19, 2006
    Ontario, Canada

    Default The stall rest blues

    Horsie has just finished his 5th week of stall rest (check ligament injury), the vet thinks he should be able go for turnout after the 8th week. I realize that this length of time isn't too bad and others have had to deal with much longer stall rest. But this is the first time I've had to deal with my own horse being off for this length of time.

    Any advice for dealing with the stall rest blues. He has been a great patient up to this point, just starting to act like a pain in the butt and showing his frustration now. And I'm starting to get mentally tired from going up everynight just to handwalk, groom and wrap.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 22, 2003


    I did 6 months of stall rest last year for a suspensory injury (followed by several months of limited turnout). I feel your pain. I actually wrote some of my tips and advice in one of my blogs. Here is the link in case any of it is helpful:

    I will say that my horse was a model patient for more than a month of stall rest. Even with an adapted diet, etc., etc., he finally reached a point that he needed a long-acting sedative. He's generally not at all spooky, but one day he spooked at absolutely nothing obvious and completely blew while being hand walked. He hadn't given me the slightest problem up until that day. During his meltdown, he wound up ripping off one of his bar shoes partway and stepping on the nails and the clip. He also made me paranoid and required additional follow-up ultrasounds to make sure he didn't do any additional damage. Thankfully he didn't... but I definitely decided the Reserpine was worth it at that point. Thankfully, my vet had given me some to keep on hand "just in case" and I just gave a call to discuss it before I gave the injection.

    I wish he had given some signs before he just exploded, so I could have given in to using drugs sooner. He really was a model patient up to that point, and I'm usually pretty critical of my horses' behavior.

    Good luck. I hope the rest of your horse's stall rest passes quickly and without any drama!

    We wound up only having to give the one Reserpine injection, even though he remained on stall rest for several more months. The one injection got him through until he was getting enough (still limited) exercise that he was a lot more manageable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2003
    Middleburg, VA


    Does he have any toys? I am usually pretty "meh" about toys, but I LOVE the Amazing Graze. Every horse I've seen with one really enjoys it. Our latest stall bound horse got his filled with hay cubes, cookies, and chopped carrots. It was highly entertaining to watch him roll it around, ignore the hay cubes, roll it around some more, still get hay cubes, then give up and go back and eat all his hay cubes. The look on his face when he'd get a treat was priceless.

    How do you supply his hay? A small hole hay net or slow feeder might help keep him occupied.

    Does he have a good view from his stall?

    Some horses prefer a busy spot. Some a quieter one. Is it possible to experiment where he goes?

    Anyway to give him a little outside stall/pen with round pen panels or a portable hot wire pen?

    You only have a few weeks to go!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008


    I second the treat dispensing toy idea. I had a nose-it, filled with hay cubes and small cookies she got it every day between breakfast and lunch and boy was it eagerly anticipated. I also used a small hole hay net for breakfast and lunch. And she had a "day stall" that had some natural light as well as having the light in the stall on all day (it was over the winter so the extra light really helped). And a "night stall" in a different barn which was part of her usual pre-injury routine. I kept her routine as consistent as possible. I survived six months of stall rest - I should get a t-shirt shouldn't I? Between the hand walking (7 days a week, she got out of her cell every day no exceptions), brushing and fussing it was more exhausting than our normal riding schedule. Hang in there!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2006


    I am there with you! My horse just got to go from his 2 months of total stall rest to being able to add a 30x30 run to it. He was going batty ... really agitated, kicking, etc. He was okay for his hand walking, but just got really pushy.

    Unfortunately, as of today, I was supposed to be able to start gradually trotting him in had in addition to his hand walking and I still don't think he's sound. I put him at the very end of a lunge line in the arena (so the circle wouldn't be too small) and I could see some level of small head bobbing going in both directions. I'm really bummed about it, but don't know what else to do?!

    His injury was isolated to check/high suspensory, but the ultrasounnd didn't really pick up the tear/lesion. It makes me wonder if that is definitely what it is?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May. 21, 2008
    Sonoma County, California


    My horse is on Month 4 of stall rest for a high suspensory/check ligament injury (or so they say...). A small mesh hay net has been a godsend as has the Amazing Graze, which when full keeps him busy for a solid 2 hours each day.

    For handwalking, once you get to the point where it's getting a little scary, drugs are your friend. It's a long road and I feel for you. Just trotted my horse out today and HE'S STILL LAME. Four months of friggin' handwalking and still lame.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 2, 2007
    Upper and Lower Canada


    I second the very tiny turnout or day stall idea, if it is at all possible. Just finished the second round of rehab in two years for my guy. The second time, I begged my BO to set up a small outside turnout, about 35 x 20 ft., after the first two months of stall rest. The first time we put him in there, we aced him. It did the trick. He stayed out there 24/7 when the weather was good. I also hand walked him there. After a month in that, turnout moved to a slightly bigger area, a round pen with grass.

    Handwalking in the indoor was a no-go, too big and everything was an excuse to buck and rear, chain lead shank made him even worse. I could handwalk him up and down the aisle a little, which gave him a chance to socialize a bit.

    He just went into regular turnout on his own (the boy likes to play hard). He's been back under saddle for two and a half months, everything looks good (knocking on wood furiously). We'll probably put him with a couple of quiet horses in a month or so. Trouble is, he manages to get even the quiet horses playing with him.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 5, 2006
    Some Beach Somewhere


    We just passed 60 days stall rest with my 5 year old stallion and are headed into a minimum of another 60 days. We ended up giving him a double stall (12 by 24) and he eats almost constantly. We pulled his grain ration way down, but added in alfalfa pellets and more hay. My vet gave us Reserpine paste which is working wonders. Otherwise he was bucking and spinning in his stall. Now we just keep him on a low dose of the Reserpine every other day and it keeps the edge off. Unfortunately my boy is not impressed with the toys I got him, but he does enjoy hanging his head over the dutch doors to bug his pony friend during the day which really seems to be helping.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 11, 2010
    Near the beach


    Thanks for the helpful hints! My horse just finished week one of eight... doing okay so far, but I'll keep all the advice in mind. Glad to know I'm not the only one going through this...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2009


    I went thru THE EVENT last spring. Lucky that it was ONLY 30 days. I invested in a Nibblenet feeder which did help keep her entertained in the stall. Fortunately the girly is a quiet soul, and we only had two days where she acted up during hand walking. She never acted up during her hand grazing- we live to eat That said, I was personally bored to tears; I walked all kinds of stupid patterns in the ring, but nothing helped.
    Once I was able to stick a saddle on and ride just at the walk, it made the whole world seem better.

    The first real turnout was exciting - she didn't run; first just rolled and rolled, then spent a bunch of time showing off her airs above the ground.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

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