After an official diagnosis has been provided or surgery performed, horse owners with little experience in rehabilitating their horses are challenged with a wave of questions:
- I cannot go to the barn every day, who is going to administer my horse's meds and wrap his legs?
- What happens if my horse goes ballistic confined into the stall?
- Do I need to change my horse's feed?
- How can I safely walk him while he is on stall rest?
While the best source of guidance is definitely your equine therapist or veterinarian, the experience of other fellow riders who have gone through a similar experience is invaluable.
Bedding of the horse
Your equine partner needs to be appropriately cushioned and bedded so that he can have a proper resting time. In he does not actually have enough bedding, he is going to fight to keep himself comfortable. It is vital to have a properly bedded stall, even if you place stall mats. Go ahead and use at least ten to twelve inches of bedding. Straw, due to the mold, mildew and allergens, is by far the single worst option for long-term bedding. The stall needs to be thoroughly cleaned out once per day and picked out consistently throughout the day. Horses sleep better, longer and sounder on a clean bed. Needless to say, quality rest is key to any recovery.
Considerations when it comes to their diet
Horses confined in stalls during their rehabilitation period need diets that provide them with less energy but not less nutrition, as well as a feed that should be fiber-rich and low when it comes to carbohydrates. A suitable option could be a quality high-fat/low-carb extruded feed. In case you cannot provide an extruded feed, you can use a senior feed. Progressively introduce the new feed over a period of a week. Do not just cut back on the quantity that you usually feed the horse. Your equine partner may feel unhappy and deprived and maintaining the horse healthy emotionally speaking is a critical part of an effective recovery program.
Rehabilitation process and recovering from injuries
Your horse can suffer a wide range of injuries, including:
- Hoof abscess
- Muscle injury
- Tendon injury
- Bone injury
- Swollen joints
- Navicular disease
- Kissing spines
Whenever your horse is on the process of recovering from injuries, Straightness Training may be helpful, particularly because you can apply four training pillars besides riding: longeing, groundwork, liberty training and work in hand.
When your horse has injuries in a specific part of the body, or one particular leg, he will start to compensate in some other parts of the body, and this will create an imbalance as well as stiffness all the time.
Your horse needs to have enough time to recover. First, get the horse better so that the ‘acute stage’ of the injury is over. These guidelines will be helpful to support the horse with Straightness Training:
Advice when it comes to supporting a horse’s recovery
Here is some guidance on how to help a horse with Straightness Training during the period of his recovery:
- Team up with a specialist or veterinarian in order to determine the ideal exercise program for the horse. These specialists are the true experts who will have a trustworthy opinion on how to proceed with the rehabilitation program, since they have gone through all the required training and meet all the official equine rehabilitation therapist education requirements, and therefore their recommendations should be the most valuable ones to us.
- Start the horse from the ground, with groundwork.
- Take it easy and stay in the comfort zone of the horse, and make sure to train ‘light’ to avoid discomfort and new injuries.
Tips to maintain your horse’s healthy hooves
Time: When you take your horse from shoes or very poorly skilled trimming, into a situation of natural and healthy bare hooves, of course most horses will need some time to adapt and redevelop the hooves they were initially born with. Some horses might require much more time than others to recuperate. This really depends on the extent of damage they have incurred. At times, the rehabilitation process may take weeks or even months, but for other horses it can actually take several years. A few horses may not be able to fully recuperate, but the ones who are able do deserve the time it takes.
Trims: Frequent trimming can help a horse develop performance hooves. Make sure the horse’s hooves are actually trimmed in the range of every five to six weeks. Going beyond six weeks will eventually lead to hoof issues such as whiteline abscesses that are caused by flared walls and bars. After two months we are trimming only for damage control which won’t develop healthy bare hooves. Go ahead and learn to maintain the horse’s hooves by yourself so that you can use a rasp to touch up the horse’s hooves between the appointments of your hoofcare specialist. This will actually alleviate some of the issues while keeping the horse in riding form, and it will also save you money.
Travel: If the horse is stalled for more hours than he is moving, his hooves won’t be as strong as those of horses that are continuously moving. Having plenty of space, along with herd movement will help horses to develop strong, healthy hooves.