Vet: “I think we’re looking at about six weeks of box rest...”
Having been the unfortunate recipient of the above news on a few occasions, here are a few tips I’ve picked up to help make box rest more bearable for you and your 'inmate'. These are currently being tried and tested by Monty, and have been previously approved by Ruby!
Not only that, but Horslyx is a high spec of vitamins, minerals and trace elements designed to balance nutrient deficiencies. That means a daily allowance is a great way of ensuring they get the important stuff in their diet whilst stabled and without their normal, natural diet. It's kind of like a human multi-vitamin tablet but in a horse friendly lick.
For a horse prone to coughs, use Respiratory Horslyx to give them a helping hand with their airways, or for helping to keep their joints happy - especially important when in a confined space for 24 hours a day - the Mobility Horslyx is a must and my particular favourite weapon of choice.
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Treat ball – Treat or snack balls can be a great way to keep your horse entertained throughout the day. I opted for the Tubtrugs dripfeed for horses. Pop a few treats or some feed in the ball and they can push it round their stable – they will love the treats and having the opportunity to forage. Debbie from Kilminsters Equestrian recommended Baileys Fibre Plus Nuggets to go inside the treat balls and they are fab! They are non-heating, fine for horses not in work, and a great source of fibre in the diet - as well as being a great size for the treat balls. As you can see, Monty is a fan.
Apple bobbing – Chop up an apple into smallish pieces and put them in your horse’s water bucket. Not only will it taste nice and encourage them keep hydrated, but it keeps them busy playing apple bobbing! As with most things, this should be done in moderation.
Stable mirrors – Strange but true, stable mirrors can have a great effect on a horse’s wellbeing and state of mind and in some cases can even reduce or stop stable vices such as weaving or boxwalking. By putting up a stable mirror you effectively trick the horse into thinking they have a companion with them, and so reduce anxiety from being on their own. I just love the reaction from the horse on this video, who clearly thinks his new stable mate is pretty damn handsome!
N.B It's really important to buy non-shatter acrylic mirrors for safety - these ones are good value and come with pre-drilled holes ready to put up in your horse's box.
Finally - remember to reduce your horse's feed. The chances are they will not need very much hard feed whilst on box rest, and you want to be very careful about their intake of energy, or you could end up looking like you're flying a kite instead of leading your horse. Reviewing your horse's feed rations is a good way of helping to keep all four feet on the ground.
Anything I've missed? Please share your own hints and tips for surviving box rest.