Keeping your horse on box rest

Box rest can be a very stressful time for both you and your horse. Often the box rest has been created by an accident or injury. So, you have the worry over that, and how the injury will heal, as well as the worry about how your horse will cope with being on box rest as well. Remember box rest is a turn of phrase, it does not necessarily mean that your horse can never leave his stable – make sure that you discuss with your vet what the limitations are. Horses, just like us, are individuals and you know your horse better than anyone. If you are concerned about how your horse will cope with being on box rest, please talk to your vet.

One of the main concerns about box rest is that your horse will be inclined to put on weight, which won’t help if he is trying to recover from injury. Balancing out restricting feed with preventing gastric ulcers can be a tricky balance. Make sure that his bedding is comfortable and is not causing him to stand at a strange angle thereby placing more strain through his joints.

Keeping him mobile is a massive part of his recovery. There are various ways that you can do this. Simple mobilisation stretches are a great way to encourage gentle movement, as are baited stretches, provided that they are appropriate for your horse. Walking in hand can be an excellent way to help keep your horse healthy during box rest. Though discuss this with your vet and consider the nature of your horse. If he is going to be rearing and spinning while being led out then it probably won’t help his recovery!

Massage or grooming will be of great benefit to your horse. In the old days all grooms would strap their horses every day, essentially giving them a massage and giving the grooms the opportunity to know their horses inside out. In our fast-paced modern world, we consider grooming simply flicking the mud off so the tack doesn’t rub. If your horse is injured and you can’t ride, you can spend that time massaging and grooming him. This will improve your relationship with your horse, as well as helping him to heal.

Box rest can be difficult. Spending some time working out things to keep your horse entertained and building in mobilisation and massage time into your day, will help you to keep him happy and healthy during his recuperation period. Just remember that when you start riding again he won’t be as fit as he was and to start slowly and build up the work in small increments.


Why massage is so good?

By Lizzie Hopkinson

We all know that massage is good for us, and for our horses too. We enjoy it, we feel looser, more relaxed, more supple afterwards. In a perfect world many of us would love to have a massage every day. But while we probably can’t manage to achieve that, we can try and give our horses a basic, simple and quick massage everyday. It is possible to build a period of massage into your horse time without too much effort.

In the olden days, grooms used to spend hours strapping their horses. This time they spent was amazingly beneficial for the horses. The grooms would know every inch of their horses and be attuned to any changes long before that change might have translated into a problem. In our fast paced modern life that is simply outside the realms of most peoples’ lives, however using a few simple massage techniques can give us, and our horses, some of the benefits of hours of strapping without the time expenditure.

Regular massage prevents the build-up of tension in the muscles, encouraging the muscles to relax. This means that over time the horse has less chance of becoming tighter on one side than the other, which can lead to asymmetry and in the long term can lead to further problems.

Just as massage has a beneficial effect on our mental state, so to do our horses find massage relaxing. Watch a horse being massaged and you will see in the movement of the muzzle and the ears that horses find massage deeply relaxing. Just like us, horses will find themselves more resilient in the face of stress if they are starting from a point of relaxation not stress.

Massage is surprisingly easy to learn to do, why not take a look at our “Horse Massage for Horse Owners” bundle deal to get you started?

And finally, massage is a lovely way to spend time bonding with your horse.