BOX rest is prescribed by a veterinarian when a horse needs to be stabled for a period of time to allow an injury to heal or to recover from an illness. The length of time the horse will be on box rest depends on the extent of the injury or illness.

The idea of having to restrict your horse may be a cause for alarm for some owners, however horses do acclimatise fairly well to a period of enforced rest and horse owners play a vital part in making the experience as easy as possible on the horse.

Here are our top tips on how to make life easier for a horse who has been prescribed box rest:

1. First consider the location of the stable for the injured/ill horse. If the horse is an animal that likes to see what is going on, cater for this. Or if they prefer peace and quiet ensure that this is provided as the horse needs to be settled and relaxed in order to recover as quickly as possible.

2. Most horses like to have a fellow equine companion in their sight, so try to be conscious of this when you take other horses out to exercise them. Some horses also enjoy the companion of a goat or small pony in the stable to keep them company, it is also known to be a helpful distraction for a horse that box walks.

3. Bedding should be the next point of call. It is important that owners discuss what type of bedding would be most suitable for the horse during their recovery. Rubber matting is very effective in providing the horse with extra padding under foot and it also provides grip and insulation for the concrete stable floor.

4. Next owners need to consider the horse’s diet. As we know the horse is a grazing animal, designed to eat almost constantly throughout the day. Their natural feed is grass and they have evolved to eat for 18 out of the 24 hours. Owners need to make sure the horse has ad lib forage and access to fresh water at all times.

5. There are many stable toys and mineral licks on the market to help combat boredom. So it might be worth investigating some of the options, such as a Snack-a-ball or Horselyx. If the vet bills have taken a toll on your funds, you can always make DIY stable toys. Providing your horse with vegetables such as a turnip is a cheap alternative to boredom toys and is a tasty distraction for the horse.

7. Last but not least, don’t underestimate the positive effect grooming, massaging and spending time with your horse can have. It will be a welcomed distraction for both of you.