The Hard Truth: Stall Rest

It’s almost impossible to be in the equine world without having your horse get hurt. Unfortunately I joined the club last week, when I got the call that Watching was injured in the field. The vets concluded that Watching was kicked in his left shoulder and punctured his hind left leg. After ultrasounding his left shoulder, they saw that there was no damage to any of his tendons, but after x-raying the shoulder, they found that the kick has crushed his deltoid tuberosity.

The vets also x-rayed Watching’s hind left leg, which sustained a puncture wound that went down to his cannon bone, but thankfully there was no fractures found in his leg. More x-rays will be taken of Watching’s leg Wednesday (tomorrow), so stay tuned for updates.

Watching is now on stall rest for 3 months, and after that period of time they will re-examine him to see if he is fit to go back to work. Hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to take him out to hand graze, but for now, the farthest he can walk is from his stall to the wash stall. Taking care of his wounds is my #1 priority right now, because since they are still very much open, they are in danger of getting infected. No sign of infection yet, and fingers crossed that it will stay that way. It’s a bummer because we can’t compete at all over the summer, but hopefully this experience will make the both of us stronger in the long run.

The vets were kind enough to send me clear pictures of his ultrasounds and x-rays (I circled the part of the x-ray where you could most clearly see the bone was broken):


Crushed deltoid tuberosity


For those of you that have horses on stall rest as well, here are a few tips that can make both of your experiences a little better!

1) Currying—Currying your horse creates blood flow throughout their body, which is much needed if they are just standing around! Not to mention, your horse will get an amazing coat if you keep up the regular groomings, because he will not be going outside and rolling around in the mud!


Watching loves his daily curries! His favorite spot is the top of his shoulders and his withers, and he let’s me now when its just the right spot when he makes this hilarious face!

2) Toys—Standing around in a stall all day can be quite boring for your horse, so keeping him interested and intrigued will lessen the pain of boredom. Lik-its are great to keep your horse entertained, although if your horse is anything like Watching, the treat will be gone in 5 minutes! Hay nets with smaller openings keeps eating hay fun for them, rather than having their hay in the corner on the ground, or in a regular hay net with larger openings. They have even made toys that your horse can roll around in his stall that will dispense treats! And although I have never seen a horse actually play with one, Jolly Balls are a fun concept, because they are scented! Even traffic cones can be a great toy!


3) Stretching—As long as this doesn’t interfere with their injuries, stretching is a great way to help relax muscles that can become tense after hours of doing nothing. I use treats and stand at the side of Watching’s barrel, and have him turn his neck around to me. I do this on both sides of him, only once. Stretching is something great to do even if your horse isn’t on stall rest, and in regular work!

Check out this awesome EventionTV video on different stretches:

Evention TV — Stretching Video


Watching saying “hi!” to his friend Georgia!

4) Tricks/Games—Stimulating their mind since they aren’t being ridden is key to keeping them sane, for the most part (who can blame them, they’re stuck in the same place 24/7!), and although it can be hard because they’re injured, finding cute little trick or games to play with them is a good way to keep their thinking sharp. A simple “kiss” trick is more than enough to get the ball rolling, and since “bowing” is out of the question for the most of us, a very confined “follow me” game in their stall, or “hug” trick is a fun way to build your bond.

5) Spending quality time—Grab a stool, or find a comfy-looking pile of hay, and plop yourself down! Just doing nothing and being around your horse can be relaxing for both you and him.  Bring a book along, or even some homework, and enjoy each others company!


People watching is one of Watching’s favorite activities, and from his window he can see most of the fields and the outdoor ring

I will be doing a lot of these 5 things over my summer! Although it is more or less inevitable, I hope everyone’s horses stay injury-free!





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3 responses to “The Hard Truth: Stall Rest

  1. Jeanne Jeffrey

    An excellent explanation, Sarah, thanks for posting.Did you know the herb comfrey(made into a wash when soaked in water) will keep flies from bothering Watching. Might be helpful and keep open wounds from getting infected. Check it out!

  2. Karen Harper-Fuog

    Sarah – So sorry about his injury. Seems to happen no matter how careful we are with our “kids”. Dance knocked a bone chip out of her cannon bone shortly after I bought her and required surgery to remove it – and stall rest…..Being a silly 3 year old, we had to put her on medication to keep her quiet. Murray also, silly 3 year old, injured himself as soon as we got him. More stall rest. You might try the Jolly Ball – he still plays with his. It’s tied to the side of the stall on top of the bar unit. He loves to shove it around when he comes in to eat. I think Dance sat on hers :). I did get one of the Lik-it for Murray but never installed it. It was suggested that you hang it OFF the wall so that the horse can’t pin it against the wall to gobble up all of the snack. Instead, hang it from the ceiling so that they have to chase it around to get the treat. Good luck with that 🙂 Keep us posted! And come visit to ride some of our stinkers! 🙂

  3. Sarah, so sorry for the accident. Seems like you have the situation pretty much under control. Enjoy reading your posts.

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