I have been rehabbing a young TB gelding who bowed a tendon in a race last August. He has been on stall rest (12 x 24 stall) with hand-walking. He is exceptionally good both in the stall and on a lead, but I can't imagine that he won't get a giant case of the buck-farts when let out for the first time.
Soooo... your tips and tricks are requested. I don't have the most amenable barn/turnout situation, particularly in the winter, so some things might be just plain impossible. General questions:
- Go up again in size like 24 x 24 or just give up and go for, say, the indoor arena?
- With or without a companion?
And anything else that would be helpful!
Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf
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We don't start turning out until the horse is cantering under saddle in its rehab post a soft-tissue injury. If you and your vet have decided to start now, I'd go to a small paddock or round pen size. It gives them enough room to move and not be constantly doing sliding stops/spins, but not too much that they can build up steam. Yes, I would turn out alone and tranq well. For the first few days, watch him carefully and bring him in at 30-mins to an hour as the drugs wear off. If all is going well, start letting the drugs wear off while he is outside and see how he handles it.
Do some hand walking around the turnout area, small paddock. Boot for extra protection. Put some food out too, might dull the "omg I'm FREEE" feeling if he's distracted by a bit of food and if walking around the paddock isn't totally new.
We have a walkout attached to a stall. It is. 12x14 so enough for them to feel like they are outside, but not big enough to get in trouble. We also put Hotwire around the top. Works great for this situation .
The Greatest Sense of Freedom is on a Horse!
Echo everyone's statements; I wouldn't turn out until they were at least doing something like trotting/cantering under saddle. And drugs will be required. And I would wrap him practically in 4 layers of bubble wrap. or at least polos & bell boots.
Though sometimes they may surprise you. When I turned my young TB out for the first time after a 2 month stall layup (turned out to be absolutely nothing so he was cleared to go right back to work), I wrapped him up to his eyeballs, did not tranq him (since he didn't have a significant injury), brought him into a small paddock, unclipped the lead rope and backed away like he was a lit fuse. He simply stood there and did absolutely nothing for the entire rest of the day other than walk around. Figures.
I know that many of you recommend, with good reason, to have them working in the trot under saddle before you turnout a horse recovering from an injury. But holy crap -- this scared the bejesus out of me sometimes, as I sat on my quiet-but-still-a-bit-of-a-powder-keg on stall rest TB mare, feeling her stall-rested brain approach 'boom'!
I'm a fan of drugs & a small solo turnout for a bit first. It does take the edge off the first round of buck-farts.
I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09
Sedation!!! That would be the number one thing. Number two, start SMALL. My mare went out about 6-8 weeks after suspensory surgery in a pen made of stock panels that was about twice the size of her stall. I wasn't riding her for another 6 months, but being outside saved her brain. She did cut a leg the first day out because she rolled and rolled and rolled (she doesn't usually roll in a stall so she must have been very itchy) and got a leg under one of the panels, but other than that it worked well. She could see other horses but not touch them (didn't want her rearing up and re-injuring the bad hind leg) and was close to the barn so someone could bring her in if she started getting silly.