Entertaining the Injured Horse
Unfortunately some horses like to injure themselves and we hear those dreaded words from the vet of 'box rest'. Some horses cope with this better than others but for some it is a real challenge. So here are 7 tips to help entertain the injured horse.
- Personal contact. Try to spend more time with your horse either grooming or massaging him. Some even just like the company if you sit with them. Try to do everything slowly when moving around them to help keep them relaxed. Rushing around while mucking out or going in and out of the stable will not encourage relaxation.
- Most horses are very social so if you are able still let them have contact with other horses by way of touching noses or mutual grooming. If this is too exciting for them then you may need to give them a scratch instead!
- Treat balls can give some mental stimulation as well as helping trickle feed. Or you could tie up a swede or carrot on a piece of string from the ceiling, so it is difficult for the horse to get hold of. If attached against the wall it is much easier for the horse to grab and so will not have the same effect. Apple or carrot bobbing is also another game to play.
- If allowed, a small pen in the field can give a change of scenery and allow a nibble of grass. The pen may only be allowed to be the size of a stable so no running around can occur but on a nice sunny day may help.
- Teach them something new. Try a new trick or behaviour. There are a whole host of examples on Youtube.
- Address a current issue. If your horse doesn't like having his feet picked out, won't stand by the mounting block, doesn't like having his bridle put on or taken off, now is an ideal time to address these issues in the time you would otherwise be riding.
- Hang a mirror in the stable. Some horses find this to be calming so is another thing to try but do make sure it is one that will not shatter if they try to play roughly with it.
We appreciate that not all horses are the same and it will depend on why they are on box rest as to what you can and can not do with them but try to think outside the box as box rest can be just as frustrating for the horse as it is for you.