Your guide to creating a positive stall environment
Have a happier horse during extended stall time
Most of us know that having a horse in a stall for an extended amount of time can be pretty stressful for them. Physically they won’t have the benefits that come with being outside such as the ability to move around expelling excess energy and increasing their circulation. Mentally they’ll become bored very quickly, by nature horses spend quite a bit of time monitoring their surroundings, seeking necessities, and problem-solving. Being in a stall can make them feel like there is a great deal of excess brain power piling up as well. On an emotional level, they will be missing out on their social interactions (which are usually high touch, high movement activities) and they can also feel a sense of helplessness as they have no way of changing their situation to meet their basic needs.
Unfortunately, there are circumstances when long term stalling is needed. I’d like to help give you some tools to keep your horse as content as possible during their stay so they can remain sane + sound while they wait to get back out with their pals in the fresh air and sunshine.
Put your horse at ease with these stall stress solutions
Mental support for extended stall time
Treat dispensing toys can be helpful to make them feel like they are still using their seeking and problem-solving skills.
Low key training activities are great for metal wellbeing while on stall rest. For example, teaching your horse the foundations of clicker training can be done in a stall and is awesome for boosting confidence and brain power. If you’re interested in learning more about the power of positive reinforcement check out the book Train Your Horse To Do Anything for a good starting point.
Physical support for extended stall time
Using slow feed hay bags can help keep horses occupied and keep their digestion moving steadily. If you see any signs of digestive irritation doing something as basic as giving a dose of Kaolin pectate can provide a great deal of relief, making their stall time much less stressful. Obviously Pepto is not a long term solution for digestive issues but it’s handy to pick up locally when you’re in a pinch.
Giving them things to chew on can help with frustration and boredom. A log of poplar wood or a jolly ball are great options.
Getting the horse out for several small breaks throughout the day can help to keep them from becoming sore from lack of movement (even just walking improves joint fluid levels vs standing stagnant in a stall).
Emotional support for extended stall time
Essential oils can be placed on a towel tied in the stall for the horse to smell and rub on when they are feeling stressed. Great oil choices include lavender, frankincense, cypress, and ylang-ylang can all help them to feel more grounded and calm. *As always if you want good results use high-quality therapeutic grade oils (you can touch base with me here if you want to chat about oils).
You can also emotionally support your horse during stalling by making sure they can still see their herd mates. Have others stalled nearby or make sure your horse has a window that they can see out to watch their herd mates.
All around support for extended stall time
Fresh air- Making sure your stalls have good airflow and ventilation is important. I recommend using an odor neutralizer to keep ammonia levels down. This post can help you pick the best one to meet your horse’s needs.
Sunshine/light- Having large amounts of natural light can help with everything from skin issues to metabolism to hormones and it also plays a major role in keeping a positive mental outlook.
Supplements- Depending on why your horse is being stalled you may want to look into supportive supplements such as additional joint support to help with the stiffness that can occur or vitamins and minerals that combat stress such as B1 and magnesium. Overall the need for supplementation is going to vary from horse to horse but it’s worth keeping in mind in case you need to look into.
I’m optimistic that these tools can ensure you have a good game plan for making your horse’s stall time as positive as possible.