Stall rest can be a difficult time for horses, especially if they are used to being active and social.
Here are some tips to help manage your horse’s stress when it is on confined stall rest for an injury:
1. Provide Mental Stimulation: Boredom can be a major source of stress for horses on stall rest. Some ways to occupy your horse’s time and provide mental stimulation include toys, feed challenges, friends, grooming and offering interesting (but not overstimulating) activities to watch outside your horse’s stall.
2. Frequent Feeds: Feeding smaller, more frequent meals can help to keep your horse occupied, as can slow-feed hay nets or feeders and choosing a variety of tasty hays with different textures and flavors to help break up boredom.
3. Provide Social Interaction: Your horse may be confined to a stall but it will still benefit from social interaction. If possible, consider arranging for a companion horse to be stabled or turned out next to your horse, and/or, if your horse is quiet enough, hand graze near friends.
4. Incorporate Relaxation Exercises: Just because your horse is confined to a stall doesn’t mean it can’t benefit from relaxation exercises. Gentle massage, Vet approved range of motion exercises and grooming can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.
5. A Consistent Routine: Consistency and predictability will help your horse feel more secure and settled. Try to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding, grooming, and exercise (as allowed by the veterinarian).
6. Better Living Through Chemistry: Sometimes your horse still needs a little more help coping with its current situation. Consult your Vet about options.
Stall rest may be a challenging but important part of your horse’s the healing process. Be patient and persistent in finding ways to help manage your horse’s stress levels so that you can provide appropriate care and support for its recovery.
Massage can be helpful helpful tool when managing your horse’s stress levels, optimizing injury recovery, immune response and digestion, reducing loss of muscle and range of motion and providing mental enrichment.