We all dread the day our horse comes in the barn limping on three legs. The vet comes out and gives a grim diagnosis followed by the orders of stall rest. For a horse who loves to run and play outside, being locked up in a stall for weeks or months at a time can be sheer torture. Depending on the personality of the horse and the severity of the injury, the recovery time doesn’t have to be so grim.
My first horse, a former racehorse gelding, lived to run and play outside. More than once he injured a couple different ligaments in his leg and was put on stall rest. Since he was used to life at the track for a few years, he didn’t mind staying inside the barn. I tacked him up and rode him around the farm for an hour every day so he could stretch his legs. After some time just walking wasn’t enough for him and he became a bit of a wise guy. He knew as long as I was on his back he couldn’t do what he really wanted to do which was run. He found this water puddle he liked to paw and splash in. Before I knew it, he laid down in it and I slid off. Then he quickly stood up and galloped back to the barn.
As he healed, I gradually introduced him to turnout again. He was ok for a couple hours before he started trotting or cantering around the small grass ring. I kept a close eye on him and brought him in once he started getting restless. Once he was on regular turnout, he loved to take off running and had a great time. But he liked the comfort of his stall and was ready to come in at a certain time every day. If he had to wait a bit, he started walking the fence line and any longer and he picked up the pace.
More recently, my mare, also a former racehorse, tore her extensor tendon out in the field. She was on stall rest for a week until we got the proper diagnosis and didn’t quite mind it as long as her two friends were in with her. Twice a day I took her out to graze. Since she was quiet I often took off the lead rope and let her continue as I watched nearby. After a week she was allowed to go out as walking around would strengthen the tendon while it healed. She was really smart and very careful not to hurt herself. Three months later it healed completely and she was sound again. Her calmness really aided the healing process.
Sometimes stall rest is necessary for the horse to heal from an injury. Whether it can be hard or easy on the horse depends on their temperament. Former racehorses are used to being in the stall for long periods of time from their days at the track and are pretty good about coping.
Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.