Making the Best of Stall Rest


Twenty-eight days have passed since my retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, fractured a medial sesamoid bone in his pasture, and I hope I’m not speaking too soon when I say things are looking pretty good. This morning we hit a pretty important milestone. But before I get to that, let’s talk stall rest. This is a big issue for owners caring for injured horsesÑespecially high-energy injured horsesÑand if I’ve learned anything in the past month from hearing friends’ stories and reading Facebook status updates, it’s that each horse handles it differently.

Happy’s veterinarian, Dr. Ashley Embley of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, preparing his leg for an ultrasound exam three weeks ago. She found no tendon or ligament damage in association with his sesamoid fracture.

Happy’s initial angst (yes, I see the irony in his name here) about and boredom with being stall-bound meant more weaving and stall-walkingÑhis longtime stereotypies. But he quickly settled into a routine of twice-a-day hand-grazing sessions, with a whole lot of snacking on hay interspersed. At my team member Erica’s recommendation (her horse has been on stall rest a few times in recent years), I first tried a slow-feed haynet to keep his mind (and mouth) occupied, but I found that it frustrated him more than anything else. (I’d hang it up in the stall, he’d check it out, try to extricate a few pieces of hay, then sneer back toward the stall door with the face of, “Why did you put my hay in a cage!?” Then he’d ignore it, even if I’d filled it with gorgeous timothy hay). Eventually I added a regular haynet beside the slow-feed one before putting the slow-feed back in storage, and I mix the farm’s orchardgrass hay with a few flakes of timothy or a timothy-alfalfa mix.

Create a free account with to view this content. 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

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

How often do you buy blankets for your horse?
312 votes · 312 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!