June 2015

I’ve finally finished uni!

So, after many years of hard work and a lot of determination I have finally completed my degree! My last exams were ok, and I am really looking forward to my graduation now at the end of July.

I’m getting married….

CASSIE AND SIMONSo, another big event is also coming up, Simon and I are finally getting married at the beginning of July – I am very excited! We are having an outdoor ceremony and so I’m hoping for nice weather.

This month has certainly been all about big changes, as we made the decision just before my exams to operate on Patch’s kissing spines. He unfortunately had strained his sacroiliac joint in the field and needed some time off for that, so we thought we might as well combine the two. The surgery went really well and I have already started lunging him and, around the middle of July, I am hoping to be back on board. Initially after surgery, Patch was  required to be on box rest for two weeks which for a Thoroughbred is never going to be an easy task! I am sure it is something which a lot of owners struggle with, so here are some tips of how to do it, from an owner (me!) and a vet (Simon)

Managing a horse on box rest

The stable

Ensure the stable that you have chosen is airy with good ventilation and has room to provide the horse with the freedom to move around, roll and stretch. Ensure that you have a nice deep bed, with generous banks as horses on box rest are often more prone to getting cast. It also helps if the stable has a nice view, a horse that can see things going on is less likely to get bored.

If you are box resting a horse for a leg injury, it is essential to have an even surface, so sometimes a bed filled right to the door can be useful with an even covering. If a horse is required to wear a cast, a deep bed is not always appropriate due to the effort required to move around.

Diet

Hard Feed

It is really crucial to adjust the diet, especially if the horse has been in full work up until this point. One thing quite common in box rested horses is colic – impaction colic (due to eating bedding etc.) or spasmodic colic (due to a dramatic change/new regime).

Cassie – “Whilst on box rest, Patch was fed a small amount of Mollichaff Alfalfa Oil and some high fibre cubes.  I like Mollichaff Alfalfa Oil as it provides a lots of digestible fibre which is good for gut mobility. It’s also his favourite feed, and although I also use this to help with energy and condition when in full work, it doesn’t make him fizzy. I also needed to disguise his daily medications and this did a great job. However if Patch was going to be on box rest longer than the two weeks he needed, I would have gradually changed over to something like Mollichaff  Hoofkind.”

Poppy

Simon – “Whilst horses are on box rest, they often don’t require supplementing energy intake in the form of hard feed, as this extra energy can make them intolerant to box rest. However there are advantages of feeding a hard feed, such as keeping management and diet the same to avoid colic, etc and also a way of delivering medications. Often it may be sensible to reduce the energy value of the hard feed during box rest, by feeding low calorie and laminitis-safe feeds such as Mollichaff Hoofkind.”

 

Forage

Simon – “Where I can, I recommend High Fibre HorseHage to clients when horses are on box rest simply because it’s a very accurate way of feeding. It keeps the energy levels low and provides the important high fibre.  I know there are a lot of other hay suppliers that are selling good hay, but I like HorseHage for this purpose as with every bale you know what you are getting and you know the quality is good. It is also really useful in helping to reduce and avoid respiratory problems such as RAO. When changing forage it is important to do this gradually.”

 

Routine

Horses are herd animals and like to be with company. One of the most stressful things for owners is trying to continue this when a horse is on box rest. It’s not always easy to keep a stable mate in for company but it can really help.

Cassie – “Patch hates being in on his own, so I was leaving Rupert in with him in the morning and then swapping him over with Poppy for the afternoon. This was a bit of a pain, but it meant I could go out, knowing that Patch would be safe in his stable and not stressed.”

Patch during hand walking

“I also took him for hand-grazing twice a day, this just helped him to have a stretch, get a different view and have a break from his stable.”

Simon – “Things like grooming daily and picking out feet are a great way of keeping a horse stimulated and feeling ‘normal’. It also obviously helps to keep their coats and feet well-maintained. I often see horses that have been on box rest covered in dust from the stable!  At home we use an Equissage pad, and again this can be really useful in stimulation and comfort. As Cassie says, hand-grazing is strongly recommended, but obviously it depends on the case and the reason for box rest.”

“To summarise, horses on box rest should be given as much TLC and stimulation as possible. Try simple things like hanging up a treat. This can be shop bought or something like a swede that can provide a few hours of entertainment. Horses on box rest are like humans in hospital, some need a close eye keeping on them, some need a little peace and quiet – but the most important thing is to feel normal, not isolated and feel loved. It’s amazing how simple things like grooming can really make a big difference.”

 

Rupert gets right into BSJA…

Rupert training with Geoff Billington

Rupert has been keeping up his good work! He is continuing to have lessons with Geoff Billington and we have now achieved our Two Star BSJA award through our training which I’m really chuffed with! He has also been out jumping where he won a 1m class so the hard work is paying off!

That’s it for this month, I hope that you find the information on box rest useful and hopefully next time I write, I will be riding Patch, married and have a degree, so lots of exciting things for this month!

Cassie