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Tips to Calm Down the Anxious Horse on Stall Rest?

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  • Tips to Calm Down the Anxious Horse on Stall Rest?

    My 21 year old TB gelding has been on stall rest for the past couple of weeks. He most likely will have surgery on his deep flexor tendon in the next week or two. After that, he'll have another 3 months (at least) of stall rest.

    This isn't the first time he's been on stall rest, and he's always been an anxious horse, but this time, he's taken it to the extreme. His buddies are being turned out at night now, so when he sees the Barn Manager turning out the other horses, he turns into a mad man! He paces, shoots around in his stall really quickly, works himself into a sweat, and neighs his head off. He carries on like this for an hour or two, and by the end of it, his entire coat is crusty with dried sweat, and he has globs of sweat oozing down his legs. It breaks my heart to see him like this, and I've been trying to go out to the barn between 9 and 10 at night as often as possible to cool him down with a bath.

    Unfortunately, my job doesn't afford me enough time or flexibility to be able to go out there every day. Plus, I don't think it's healthy to bathe him every night (I have to use soap or else the sweat doesn't fully come out). I've thought about asking one of the barn girls to help, but I'm worried that he might get loose (and further injure himself) from anyone other than me or the BO.

    So, I'm really at a loss as to what to do. My vet said that natural calming supplements don't really work. I can't leave a buddy in at night for him because all the other horses are on turnout. I tried moving him to a stall where he can't see as much, but that only made him worse. Any ideas or suggestions as to what I should be doing for him?!

  • #2
    For stall rest, Ace is your friend. Even if just given orally, a few cc's can make a world of difference.
    No Trouble
    2/2/05 - 7/29/13
    Rest In Peace my quirky brave boy, I will love you forever.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I have always been afraid of using ACE on my horses. Is it really safe to use it every day?

      Comment


      • #4
        Better living through chemistry. My horse didnt need ace for stall rest, but DID need it when we started the turnout process. We started at 3 cc's and were able to wean off. He got IM injections of it every day for about 10 days. (guesstimating here...it was a few years ago)

        I would also make sure he has free choice hay. Maybe a jolly ball to distract him? Or one of those balls that releases grain when they roll it?
        Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
        White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

        Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

        Comment


        • #5
          There are risks with ALL drugs, and Ace is no different. Given the risk vs. benefit calculation (anxious horse wrecking itself mentally or physically vs. possible side effects of a drug) I'd say considering some sort of sedative is worth it.

          I had a horse on stall rest for several months after DDFT/navicular bursa surgery and he got oral Ace powder (compounded from FarmVet) EVERY SINGLE DAY for long stretches. I had to hand walk him, and he was completely bent on destroying himself, rearing, spinning, bolting, etc. Never mind the risk to him--I didn't want to be wrecked, either! It worked just well enough to keep him manageable, although he certainly became tolerant to it over time and required quite large doses (100mg) after several months, when I was tack walking him and taking my life in my hands that way.

          Never had any problems with it other than the development of tolerance. But that's not to say it is 100% safe--always, always, with ANY drug (even "natural" ones) one has to weigh the pros vs. the cons. I liked a calm, manageable horse and was willing to accept the potential side effects.

          Other options are fluphenazine and reserpine, which make Ace look like baby aspirin in comparison when one compares potential side effects !

          I like to make sure my horses on stall rest have lots of space (I use my 12 x 24 foot foaling stall), lots to look at, lots of hay and company nearby. It works well at my place because the horses hang out in a sacrifice paddock that is right next to the barn, so the confined horse can still touch and be right next to its buddies over the Dutch doors.

          Can you borrow a small pony or goat to keep him company when the other horses are turned out?
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            Actually, especially for those types of horses, my vet has gone off stall rest completely. All that panicky adrenaline pacing, sliding around the stall, freaking out etc. basically tends to undo any healing that has been done in that day... Unless you can get the BM to give the ace every day half an hour before the others go out, you might look for a different situation such as a smaller paddock with a very quiet buddy.
            With my herd dependent horses, it takes a heck of a lot of TQ to counteract the panic they face to see all their buddies leave them behind. Certainly no oral supplements can change that kind of horse enough that they are completely okay with being left behind. That said, if he is also the type to tear around the paddock when he is out, I do find that Min Chex help, as can Shen Calmer with some of the more anxious types. Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              when any of ours are on stall rest and exhibit any of the behavior you described, i go ahead and give them reserpine. one shot, long lasting, and my vet is conservative in the amount administered. so far, no problems, and a lot easier than giving im shots or making sure it gets put in his grain eash day.
              Different Times Equestrian Ventures at Hidden Spring Ranch
              www.DifferentTimesEquestrianVentures.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Is there any way you can build a small, stall-sized paddock in the turn-out area for your boy? I've done this with corral panels, within my bigger pasture, for a horse on stall rest. As long as the horses could see/touch each other, they were fine.

                Can the BO leave a horse in with yours and alternate turnout for that/those horses? I know night turnout is the norm in the hot/humid parts of the country, but this might be your best option.
                Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Couple thoughts:

                  (1) I gave my horse IM Ace pretty much every day, sometimes twice a day for at least six months when he was on stall rest/rehab for a suspensory injury. He did not suffer any ill effects, and (bonus!) we both lived through the stall rest/rehab;

                  (2) if this horse ever had an injury requiring stall rest again, I would put him out in a rehab-sized paddock and NOT stall rest him. It wouldn't be worth it to me to do that to him again. He was unbelievably miserable, and I think he would have stayed quieter in a small paddock than he did in his stall (where he spent most of time rearing, bucking and thrashing about). Particularly for a somewhat aged animal such as yours, I'd look for a situation where he could be in a rehab paddock. Perhaps something you could build with round pen panels?

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I *may* be able to convince the BO to leave one of the school horses next to my horse at night. The trouble is that he has gotten particularly attached to one of his buddies, and anytime he goes out, my horse panics. I'm not sure that he will improve with another horse around. It might have to be that horse in particular, which isn't going to happen (the horse's owner doesn't want him (a black horse) turned out during the day in summer).

                    I think he might tolerate turnout with a buddy in a small paddock, but the trouble is that there aren't any such paddocks at my barn that are available 24/7. I can't turn him out by himself in a round pen, unfortunately. Been there, done that, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty! He basically body launched himself against the side of the round pen. Thank goodness I was there to take him out. Otherwise, he would have seriously injured himself.

                    Do you think moving him to a less bustling facility (we're at a show barn/riding school) while he gets better would work? I'm concerned about scaring him as he's never really left home for any extended period of time other than weekend shows, etc. I'll talk to the BO about ace. That might just have to be what we do. Ironically, I'd rather ride him than hand walk him. He's very well-behaved under saddle, but man, when I'm on the ground, he's a different horse!

                    Thanks for all the suggestions!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PrinceSheik325 View Post
                      I *may* be able to convince the BO to leave one of the school horses next to my horse at night. The trouble is that he has gotten particularly attached to one of his buddies, and anytime he goes out, my horse panics. I'm not sure that he will improve with another horse around. It might have to be that horse in particular, which isn't going to happen (the horse's owner doesn't want him (a black horse) turned out during the day in summer).

                      I think he might tolerate turnout with a buddy in a small paddock, but the trouble is that there aren't any such paddocks at my barn that are available 24/7. I can't turn him out by himself in a round pen, unfortunately. Been there, done that, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty! He basically body launched himself against the side of the round pen. Thank goodness I was there to take him out. Otherwise, he would have seriously injured himself.

                      Do you think moving him to a less bustling facility (we're at a show barn/riding school) while he gets better would work? I'm concerned about scaring him as he's never really left home for any extended period of time other than weekend shows, etc. I'll talk to the BO about ace. That might just have to be what we do. Ironically, I'd rather ride him than hand walk him. He's very well-behaved under saddle, but man, when I'm on the ground, he's a different horse!

                      Thanks for all the suggestions!
                      Mine was also much easier to walk-ride than handwalk. Though I would not really classify the walk-riding as "easy" - just "easier"!

                      I do think a very quiet place may work better for him. I know my TB does better in a less bustling place generally. He might also do okay with just some limited time outside in a small space - maybe doesn't necessarily need to be 24/7. Just something to break up his day for him a little and make him feel less confined. Just a thought...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PrinceSheik325 View Post
                        I *may* be able to convince the BO to leave one of the school horses next to my horse at night. The trouble is that he has gotten particularly attached to one of his buddies, and anytime he goes out, my horse panics. I'm not sure that he will improve with another horse around. It might have to be that horse in particular, which isn't going to happen (the horse's owner doesn't want him (a black horse) turned out during the day in summer).

                        I think he might tolerate turnout with a buddy in a small paddock, but the trouble is that there aren't any such paddocks at my barn that are available 24/7. I can't turn him out by himself in a round pen, unfortunately. Been there, done that, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty! He basically body launched himself against the side of the round pen. Thank goodness I was there to take him out. Otherwise, he would have seriously injured himself.

                        Do you think moving him to a less bustling facility (we're at a show barn/riding school) while he gets better would work? I'm concerned about scaring him as he's never really left home for any extended period of time other than weekend shows, etc. I'll talk to the BO about ace. That might just have to be what we do. Ironically, I'd rather ride him than hand walk him. He's very well-behaved under saddle, but man, when I'm on the ground, he's a different horse!

                        Thanks for all the suggestions!
                        Honestly, drugs before he hurts himself more or hurts someone else. Stall rest is really hard on most horses mentally, and they are not healing if they are thrashing, spinning in circles, rearing, bucking, etc.
                        Jigga:
                        Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          being outside in a 12x12 or 15x15 or something panel 'stall' inside his usual paddock, under a tree, with plenty of hay would probably alleviate much of the stress. He would be out, could be near his friends, watch the barn swallows land on his gate, etc.

                          Its easy to make one inside his regular paddock. Like an outdoor stall.

                          Also, ace or calm and cool (works for some horses, and doesn't work for other horses, so you have to try it) which is a feed-through, is kinder than not giving it.
                          My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            DRUGS!!!

                            As a kid/young teen the only time I ever saw a horse sedated was during necessary vet visits. Then I went to a "Big" barn and was shocked how frequently they used sedatives for the rehabbing and stall rest horses. I was kinda wondering why we didn't do this at my childhood barn? Sure made things happier and safer for all parties involved. I've since spent a lot of years at various big, competitive barns. I can't count how many horses I've seen on stall rest, with drugs! In fact, beyond my childhood barn, I can't recall a single stall rest/recovery horse that wasn't sedated. I really, really recommend Reserpine. I've personally used it, and have handled and known many other horses on it. These horses were on 3-12 month stall rest and some had to get a few doses of it throughout the duration. When a horse is already doomed to 10 months of stall rest, the last thing you want is for them to re-injure 5 months in and now need another year of stall rest!

                            The bulk of these horses (including my own) also received ACE. The Reserpine would keep them more settled overall, but still too much energy for hand walking, starting turn-out, starting back under saddle, etc. The only side effect is the Reserpine horses usually got Diarrhea the first week after being dosed.

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