The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

How to… Box Rest: Chapter 8

Keep him occupied

Sometimes it can help to keep your horse occupied, to help relieve the boredom of being in all the time. Many horses actually cope surprisingly well with box rest, and it doesn’t seem to bother them at all. Others hate it. As with everything else, you have to weigh up the pros and cons and come up with a solution that works for your horse.

Being on ‘box rest’ usually means ‘restricted movement’, so you may be able to set up a stable sized paddock in the middle of the field if he can’t cope with being in. You might be able to fence off a limited area outside the stable and leave the stable door open, so that he can go in or out as he likes. Where possible, keep another horse near him for company, unless he really doesn’t mind being in on his own. Stable mirrors can be very effective at calming horses. If he’s very unsettled, discuss with your vet what the options are to help him settle.

There are various stable toys that you can get. The most common is the ‘treat ball’, which you put small nuts in and the horse has to learn to roll it around the stable for the treats to fall out. I have to say that these are really annoyingly loud for anyone who is working on the yard nearby! There are downsides, in that your horse is going to be snuffling up some of his bed, and it’s yet again something that should be factored into weight management, but look at the pros and cons and decide what’s right for your horse. A hay ball is another option. You can get ‘scratching mats’ which might be enjoyed by a horse on box rest. There are new products being developed all the time, so keep your eyes open for things you think would help your horse to be calm and relaxed during his enforced rest.

© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion