Feeding Horses on Stall Rest

Take steps to manage your horse’s weight and behavior while he’s cooped up.

No account yet? Register


feeding horses on stall rest
Grazing horses generally consume grass constantly during turnout, so it’s important to mimic this as closely as possible while on stall rest. Consider using a slow-feed haynet to extend foraging time when feeding horses on stall rest. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Krishona Martinson/University of Minnesota

Take steps to manage your horse’s weight and behavior while he’s cooped up

You’re headed out to catch your pastured horse for a riding lesson when you notice that his hock is the size of a softball. Later, you hold your breath as the veterinarian examines the injury and cringe at the sound of those two dreaded words: stall rest. Continuous confinement of any horse for long periods poses many obstacles, especially where nutrition is concerned. Diet plays a critical role in a horse’s behavior and overall gastrointestinal health, and not properly feeding horses on stall rest can be worse than the injury itself.

Cutting the Calories

Whether your patient is a racehorse or a weekend trail horse, stall rest means a serious reduction in his usual amount of activity—voluntary and otherwise. Depending on his level of work prior to the injury, you will need to reduce his total calorie intake to account for the decrease in activity. Here’s an example of a 1,100-pound horse’s daily caloric requirements:

Table 1

Level of Work & Description Mcals per Day
Idle: minimal activity 15.2
Light: recreational riding 20.0
Moderate: school horses, ranch work 23.0
Heavy: low-level eventing, show horses 26.6
Very Heavy: racing, endurance, elite three-day eventing 34.5
From NRC Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 2007

[et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen has been a performance horse nutritionist for an industry feed manufacturer for more than a decade. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

Where do you go to find information on pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID)? Select all that apply.
22 votes · 34 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!