Feeding horses on box rest
Having a horse on box rest can be extremely stressful for both horse and owner. It usually involves more cost through bedding and more time spent mucking out. It can be especially difficult if the horse was fit and in full work and injury has caused him to be on box rest. One minute they are being worked hard every day and the next they are asked to stand in a stable for 24 hours a day! It is therefore no wonder that some horses don’t settle straightaway. Nutrition can play a major role in recovery and ensuring the horse is getting all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients in their diet will aid a speedy recovery. If your horse was in hard work, he will probably have been on a high starch diet. Ensuring this is changed to a high fibre, low protein diet will maintain good digestive health, whilst prolonging ‘chewing’ time, thus helping to keep the horse occupied and reduce the risk of stable vices forming.
Alongside a high fibre diet, it is recommended to feed a good quality feed balancer such as Blue Chip Original, which contains the optimum level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, many of which are in a bio-available organic form. Combined with a comprehensive hoof and respiratory formula, Original, as with all the balancers in the Blue Chip range contains a complete respiratory supplement which contains garlic, eucalyptus, mint and antioxidants, all vital in keeping a healthy respiratory system whilst on box rest.
The high levels of probiotic yeast in Blue Chip balancers will help the beneficial bacteria in the gut to thrive, helping to prevent any digestive upsets. Some horses can quickly gain weight whilst on box rest if their feed isn’t monitored carefully, so if you find your horse is gaining too much weight, swap to a low calorie, low sugar, low starch diet feed balancer such as Blue Chip Lami-light to ensure the horse is still getting the essential vitamins and minerals needed without encouraging weight gain. All Blue Chip balancers are recommended to be fed at 100g per 100 kilograms of bodyweight.
to help extend fibre digestion, try double or triple netting your hay so the horse needs to work harder and takes longer over his fibre intake. If your horse is also prone to putting on weight or you think he is becoming overweight, soaking hay to reduce the calorie content can be very useful without having to limit the amount of fibre fed. Hay may be soaked for several hours to reduce the soluble carbohydrate content and therefore the calories. Treats such as swedes can be hung from the ceiling and apples floating in water can also help to keep your horse occupied.
A lot of horses may need a calmer whilst on box rest to help keep them relaxed and less stressed whilst being stabled for long periods. Feed a natural calmer that is safe to use on a daily basis, such as Blue Chip Karma, or for instant effect, Blue Chip AppleCalm or CarrotCalm, which all include the superior water soluble form of magnesium that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Along with the generous levels of magnesium, Karma and AppleCalm and CarrotCalm contain L-tryptophan, which is one of the building blocks of serotonin productiom, a hormone produced in the brain that helps to keep the horse in a settled and relaxed state.
For advice on what to feed the horse or pony on box rest visit www.bluechipfeed.com or call 0114 266 6200.