My pony has been put on 6 weeks box rest by my vet. I am worried that he is going to get really bored and develop bad habits such as door kicking, weaving or chewing the wood on his stable door. Have you got any suggestions for how to help him pass away the time constructively?
Lucy M, by email
Box Rest – these are two short words we dread to hear from our vet, bringing with them expectations of sick, frustrated and bored horses. Not to mention extra care, cost and of course – no riding! But, the good news is there are ways you can help alleviate the stress and boredom for your horse and discourage those bad habits that can quickly develop.
There are some fantastic products on the market that your horse will love, designed especially to help with managing diet and balancing boredom.
Have a Ball!
When we offered our horse the Carrot Ball – it kept him busy for hours! This fun new product is like a football with slots for the carrots to sit in. You pump it up with a bicycle-style pump – and the harder it gets, the more the carrots get wedged into the ball providing an even greater challenge for your horse to pull them out! The innovators call it the “Hug & Tug” feature. You can also fill the ball with segments of apple, swede or parsnip to give your box rest pony a change of treat. When your horse finally get released from his stable, you can also use these balls in the field – ideal for those on a limited diet or starvation patch. They are available from www.equine-innovations.co.uk for £24.99.
Bag It Up!
In the wild, horses graze all day long and it’s important to replicate the natural grazing cycle for box resting horses. We found the haynet bags from www.haygrazer.co.uk absolutely perfect for managing the amount and speed that your horse can eat his hay. The HayGrazer Play is designed with larger holes at the top so that at first the hay can be eaten relatively easily. As it empties and the holes become smaller towards the bottom it gets harder to access the hay and the bag mimics natural grazing, when a horse searches for grass using its lips. Why not hide a few treats in your haynet? Finding a piece of carrot or apple amongst the hay might just make his day!
Classic FM – the THP horses seem to appreciate some soothing classical music as they while away the hours, so try and find a radio you can tune in and find out your pony’s music tastes!
Apple bobbing – drop some apples in his water bucket. It’ll encourage him to drink more and everyone loves a little bit of water play after all!