There are two words uttered by the vet that can fill an equestrian with a mixture of dread and anxiety “box rest”. However, box rest doesn’t have to be the negative experience often referred to. Like with most things, it’s the horse’s temperament that will either make the days/weeks fly by or make the period of box rest feel as though it is never ending!
Over the years Bertie has had many periods of box rest
all varying in length from just one or two days to eight weeks solid totalling 12 weeks with four weeks in hand walking. I have been fortunate that he is a very good patient having had surgery for kissing spine, a neurectomy and fasciotomy in both hind legs, osteomyelitis of the pedal bone in his front hoof as well as stifle and hock injections for arthritic changes.
It has really been a case of trial and error trying to keep Bertie entertained and settled especially when the time came to start in hand walking and turnout as we soon discovered he was allergic to sedatives such as Sedalin and Dormosedan gel resulting in a rather fetching ‘willy sling’ sewn together by myself and the vet as he could no longer retract. However, I then started to experiment with nu
merous calmers which I found to be incredibly helpful for taking the edge and sharpness off as it gave a couple of seconds to distract him before he’d attempt to explode.
Although box rest is hard and at times depressing, especially when the sun is shining and you feel they should be out in field, it does provide a great opportunity to bond with your horse. I would make a conscious effort to still allocate the same amount of time at the yard as if I was riding and would spend that time with Bertie doing something else such as grooming, practising plaiting up or sometimes just sat with him having a coffee. Bertie and I have a lovely bond which I feel has been strengthened by these periods of injury, rest and rehab back to full health.
Written by S. Holland Brand Ambassador for EEquine