How do you make box rest more pleasant for your horse?
Box rest is a very nasty term for most horse people that they hope they never have to deal with. However, it can sometimes happen that your horse is injured and in a lot of pain, in such a situation box rest may be necessary. How can we make box rest as pleasant as possible for our horse?
What exactly is box rest?
Box rest is simply said ‘Your horse must rest in a box and is not allowed out’. Your horse only comes out of the stable for veterinary examinations and sometimes you are allowed to walk for a few minutes after a certain time. In some cases, a horse is even secured with two ropes to its halter because it is not allowed to lie down either. In the worst case, your horse cannot even stand on its own and will be placed in a harness. The duration of box rest varies greatly per horse. It can sometimes be a few weeks, but it also happens that a horse is barely allowed to leave the stable for six months.
An injured horse’s appetite often diminishes when it is in pain or stressed. This is absolutely not useful because the body needs extra energy to promote healing. Your horse’s diet must be adjusted to ensure that the body does not have to live on the reserve substances. The moment the reserve substances of your horse are used, his condition deteriorates considerably, the fat reserves decrease and the muscles disappear.
First, proteins are used to provide the body with energy. The loss of protein will make your horse weak and it will slow down healing. It is best to discuss the composition of a diet with someone who knows a lot about it or with your vet. The energy requirement differs per horse and situation. There are some things you can always keep an eye on.
Try to keep a horse on a fitness score around 3. This is a normal score, neither too thin nor too thick. A score of 3 means that the spine and ribs are slightly visible and touchable, there is a little fat on the ribs, the neck and back are slightly muscled, and the spine is the highest point of the hindquarters. gets a fitness score lower than 3, the injuries will heal less quickly. He will need more energy to keep himself warm and fit.
As much roughage as possible
Try to ensure that your horse can eat roughage all day long. Preferably bring him hay 3 to 4 times a day or arrange with stable mates to give your horse hay. Never give your horse dusty or moldy hay, this is very bad for his airways. One option is to hang a hay net in the stable. As a result, your horse will eat his hay less quickly and therefore have to do longer.
Also try to put your horse on straw when possible. Straw contains very little energy and has a very coarse texture. This keeps your horse’s intestines working and he will also get bored less quickly.
If a horse does not get enough roughage, it may be that it develops colic or stomach ulcers
Less sugars and starches
Sugars and starches can make your horse more irritable. Starch and sugar provide a lot of energy that is not needed during the box rest. So try to avoid these as much as possible. Starch and sugar are found in all types of concentrates, but also in hay and straw (5-15%). It is highly recommended to look for food that is low in starch and sugars during box rest. Large amounts of starch can cause intestinal disorders. Fructan, a sugar that is often found in grass and concentrates, can cause laminitis.
Lots of high-quality proteins
Horses that have to be in the stable all day due to circumstances have a relatively high protein requirement. They need more protein than healthy horses who spend all day on the pasture. The protein requirement of injured horses is approximately equal to the requirement of recreational horses. The requirement is about 7% of the total feed they consume. Alfalfa hay and soy flour are very good sources of protein.
Be careful not to overdo the amount of proteins. This can cause diarrhea, among other things. It is also the case that the ammonia content in the urine rises, this makes for a less clean stable and for respiratory infections in the horse by inhaling.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids have a good effect on many, many things. They ensure that tissue regenerates faster and that bones become firmer. They also have a very positive effect on blood circulation. They ensure a better composition of the platelet membranes, which reduces the risk of blood clots by standing still for too long.
Because the horse is constantly in the stable, care must be taken to keep it clean. The excrement should be removed preferably 3 to 4 times a day. Also the wet spots in the straw should not remain in the stable for too long. Wet straw can cause the hoof horn to be affected. When mucking out, make sure it is not too dusty, this is bad for the horse’s respiratory tract.
The most important thing for the horse is that it has company. Try to make sure he can be a different horse while he is in the stable. It is also an option to place another animal in its stable as long as the stable is large enough. When your horse is very calm, you can also keep him company by sitting next to it.
Spend a lot of extra time taking care of your horse. Brush it thoroughly every day. Also make the effort to wipe his eyes, nose, corners of his mouth and the area between his legs with a damp cloth. You can also give your horse a massage. You can do this with a lavender or chamomile oil, for example. There are various massage techniques such as sports massage, Shiatsu and Tellington touch. You can learn all these techniques by watching videos on YouTube. When you take the time to learn them and take it easy, you can apply them to your horse yourself.