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AskHQ: Left behind

Q: How can I make box rest easier for my horse? He is so stressed when the other horses go out in the morning.

Asked by Gemma Picken

A: Box rest can be really difficult if your horse is used to extensive turnout. It can be especially hard if your horse is the only one left behind when all of his friends go outside.

If your horse gets stressed when his friends leave, as your describe, then the key thing for him will be having some company. It does completely depend on your particular situation, but sometimes even having small animals, like chickens, around can be enough to calm a horse who is confined to his stable. The animals, generally speaking, don’t need to be in his stable – he just needs to be able to see them.

It is also worth finding out if there are any other horses who might be able to keep him company – even if they keep him company in shifts so that their turnout time is not too limited.

Failing that, see if you can stable your horse within eyesight of a busy area of the yard, or an arena, where people are riding for most of the day.

Stable toys can also be a welcome addition – especially those toys that reward with food sporadically.

In addition, don’t forget to consider your horse’s diet. He won’t need the energy he usually does if he is being confined to his stable, and excess energy can add to the stress of box rest. It is therefore vital to speak to your equine nutritionist for advice on his feeding regimen.