Having a horse be laid up is the worst. And when you’re dealing with a pent up beast that has cabin fever, you learn a thing or two.
Horses always seem to have something to teach us. Whether it’s to be more aware of our body language, to remember to breathe or to just take the time to enjoy a good snack and time with our friends, horses are perpetual teachers. These lessons never stop coming. Even when they’re out of commission, horses let us know that we have more to learn.
So here are eight things we learn when our horses are on stall rest:
1. Any gaps in your horse’s groundwork become glaringly obvious. That’s right. If you haven’t done the leg work to make sure your horse is patient, respectful and knows to stay out of your space, you will regret most of your life choices. A minorly pushy horse under normal circumstances becomes a major problem when you add in excess energy and frustration at seeing other horses being allowed to do horse things.
2. Your bandaging skills are not up to snuff. If you’ve got a horse that needs its leg wrapped regularly, you learn very quickly whether or not you know how to wrap a leg. Whether you’re using a standing wrap or vet wrap, your dexterity gets put to the test as you juggle quilts and bandages, all the while praying that your horse continues to stand still (refer back to #1). Fortunately, by the end of stall rest, you can wrap a leg like a pro in record time.
3. Horses are expensive. I mean, we all know this, but never is it so painfully true than when you’re cleaning a trashed stall, watching mounds of bedding (that was fresh yesterday) go in the manure pile. Or when you’re buying yet another case of vet wrap. Or paying the vet for another farm call and set of films. All the while you’re watching your friends ride and suffering from a massive case of FOMO.
4. Quarantine bod is real. Even for horses. Some of us may have gained the COVID 19 (pounds that is, not the virus) during quarantine, but a month or so of stall rest does the same for horses. The couch potato lifestyle does not bode well for muscle retention or fitness. There’s a fine balance between keeping a horse busy with hay and keeping its weight in check (someone let me know when you find that balance).
5. Horses poop. A lot. Again, this is something we all know, but the sheer amount of poo is quite impressive when you’re shoveling multiple times the amount you normally would due to the horse being kept inside.
6. Day drinking is underrated. This lesson starts the day you realize that your horse is lame, continues until the vet can make it out and then really sets in when you look at the weeks or months ahead of you and your cabin fever ridden steed.
7. It’s hard to see your horse in pain. For as often as we might roll our eyes at the dumb things our horses do, it’s still really hard to see them actually uncomfortable (even if it was the result of one of those dumb things). Between them not being able to communicate exactly what is wrong and the knowledge that you can’t communicate to them that what you’re doing is in their best interest, it’s just frustrating all around.
8. There is never a good time of year for your horse to be stuck in a stall. Literally no time is a good time. Summer is hot and the flies are miserable. Winter is cold, water freezes and so do your hands. Spring and fall have lovely temperatures, but they’re also breezy and crisp and perfect for winding up horses. And you know what’s not lovely? A wound up horse on stall rest.
The lessons just keep coming. What have you learned (or been reminded of) while your horse is on stall rest? Let us know!