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Box Rest

A Guide To Box Rest

Keeping horses stabled for a period following surgery, injury or illness is unfortunately something that most horses and owners will have to surrender to at some point. We find that most horses acclimatise well to the enforced rest, however there are some things owners can do to help. These are our top tips but we would love to hear yours in the comments below.

  • Talk to your vet about appropriate bedding, it may be that you need to consider changing the type of bedding or extending the bedding to the door to allow for optimum cushioning and protection. This will depend on the injury/ condition.
  • Grooming can be a welcome distraction to horses on box rest and using a rubber curry comb can really help promote blood flow, which can in turn help to promote recovery and healing.
  • Remember to maintain good hoof hygiene to help avoid bacterial infections such as thrush which can be more common when horses are kept inside for long periods.
  • Toys, treat balls, mirrors and the radio can act as good stimulus. Always introduce with care and remember that what works for one might not for another.
  • Gut stimulation can be dramatically reduced during periods of box rest. Ensure your horse has access to ad lib forage and fresh water to decrease the risk of colic. Adjust hard feed to reflect the lack of exercise and need to reduce calorie intake. It is important that your horse gets the correct amounts of vitamins and minerals, so it is a good idea to consider a feed balancer during recovery. We recommend you discuss feed changes with your vet or an experienced feed expert such as an equine nutritionist.
  • Horses on box rest and who are inside for long periods can be more susceptible to respiratory diseases. This can be caused by less ventilation and overexposure to dust and hay spores. Consider soaking your horse’s hay and using ‘dust extracted’ bedding.

Check for swelling. Restricted movement can lead to swelling of the lower limbs, but stable bandages can help avoid this, especially for overnight periods. It is however essential they are applied correctly, with the correct pressure and re-applied regularly (at least twice daily). Poor bandaging with uneven pressure can cause serious damage.

Watch our YouTube video on ‘How To Apply Stable Bandages’ or ask our vets or nurses to demonstrate.  

For horses prone to gastric ulcers, consider preventative treatment whilst they are on box rest. Talk to your vet about medication and management options.  

Box rest is often necessary but can be a worry for owners. Remember, it is not forever, and we are here to support you. Please do not hesitate to call us for advice from our vets and nurses on 01323 815120.