Whether recovering from injury or surgery, or confined for another reason, a horse on stall rest can be challenging to feed. When the medical crisis requiring rest has passed, long-term stall management becomes a matter of balancing the horse’s needs and keeping it occupied.
A nutritional evaluation should be done for horses recovering from surgery or illness. Dietary changes are recommended for laminitic horses and those suffering from the effects of old age, Cushing's disease, respiratory problems, and hepatic disease.
Manage weight and nutrient intake
In each case, a carefully balanced diet rich in specific minerals and vitamins should be designed to provide the horse with the best possible nutrition for its recovery and future health. For instance, a horse recovering from laminitis would benefit from a combination of supplements including biotin, zinc, and methionine.
Track the weight of horses on stall rest in order to monitor whether their diet is providing too much for their sedentary lifestyle. A scale would be ideal, but a weight tape can be used weekly in order to track changes in girth, as long as the same person takes the measurement in the same manner each time.
A ration balancer is a low-calorie feed that will provide the amino acids necessary for repair of damaged tissues, and the minerals and vitamins required for maintaining health. Follow the feeding directions for a “maintenance” activity level based on the weight of the horse.
Provide sufficient forage
Provide hay at 1.5-2% of the horse’s body weight. It should be mostly grass hay, but giving a little alfalfa (lucerne) may help to prevent the development of ulcers. A mixed hay with grass as the majority plant type is ideal. If you do not have the mixed hay, add a flake of alfalfa per day to the other forage.
To keep the horse from eating hay too quickly and being bored the remainder of the day, you might want to consider one of the special hay bags that allows the horse to get only a little bit at a time.
Guard against bone demineralization
A little known fact regarding horses on stall rest (or even those transitioning to a stabled environment) is that as soon as exercise (free choice or forced) is reduced, the bone begins to weaken. One of the most important factors in bone density and strength is the stimulus that exercise and the resulting concussive forces provide. The bone reacts to these by remodelling, or building more bone where it is needed. When that stimulus is removed, the amount of bone resorption exceeds bone accretion and bone loss results.
Which solution is right for your horse?
Bone Food Plus® Mineral and vitamin supplement to support bone health. Bone Food Plus is formulated to supply equine diets with vital bone-building nutrients and supplies the essential building blocks to optimise bone development, health, and strength.
EO-3™ Concentrated direct source of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. EO-3 is a rich source of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in a palatable liquid form. EO-3 can be fed to all classes of horses including foals, breeding stock, and performance horses to improve the critical ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet.
Gold Pellet® The ultimate vitamin, mineral and amino acid supplement for horses. Gold Pellet has been scientifically formulated to contain essential nutrient levels to meet requirements for work or growth, and is designed to complement a traditional diet of grains and roughage.
Nano-E® Liquid natural-source vitamin E with superior bioavailability. Nano-E is a revolutionary natural-source vitamin E supplement for horses. Liposome encapsulation and nanodispersion ensures rapid and superior bioavailability for all horses.
Neigh-Lox® Antacid and coating supplement for horses at risk of gastric ulcers. Prolonged exposure of the stomach to gastric acid can cause damage to the stomach lining, resulting in a painful condition for the horse. Neigh-Lox contains a combination of rapidly acting antacids.
Nutrequin Se® Essential everyday nutrients for all horses. Nutrequin Se is an exceptional value-for-money vitamin, mineral, essential amino acid, and antioxidant formula, specifically designed to supplement horses on home-mixed diets or those consuming forage-only diets.
Triacton® Bone and digestive health support. Triacton is a research-proven, triple-action supplement designed to improve bone density and support digestive health in horses.
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- Confinement Weakens Bones in Horses
- Feeding Young Horses in Confinement
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