Box rest are words dreaded by horse owners and it can be extremely frustrating for both horse and human. Something that is compounded by not being able to explain to the horse why they now cannot go out and frolic with their friends in the field. Or join the rest of the horses heading out for their ridden work in the morning… The effects are worse for the first few weeks of stabled confinement. Particularly if the horse was competition-fit at the time of the injury that has led to its imprisonment!

Of course, box rest is very much for the best if your horse has an injury. But the physiological and psychological impact of keeping a horse indoors can be significant. Let’s take a look at how introducing some new stable management practices along with Haygain’s innovative equine health products can help keep the stable-bound horse as healthy and happy as possible.

Respiratory illness

A horse on box rest may be indoors for months on end. So it’s well worth paying attention to the quality of the air that they breathe in. Source good quality, dust-extracted bedding, ensure there is plenty of ventilation and pay attention to the quality of your forage. If you’re concerned about the impact of dust and other airborne particles in your forage, consider steaming hay before feeding it. Using a Haygain Steamer reduces the risk of your horse developing inflammatory airway disease by 64%. And reduces the respirable particles in forage by 98%.

Another Haygain product, the Haygain Forager, can help to promote good respiratory health in a different way – it replicates the ‘head down’ position of normal grazing which means airways drain naturally – but we’ll talk a little more about that product that later on, so let’s move on.

Haygain advise on keeping stables horses healthy

Lower limb filling

You’re very likely to see some filling in the lower legs of the horse when it starts box rest, particularly if it has been on a high-protein diet and in hard work before the injury occurred. If the animal is allowed any in hand walking this will help bring down swelling. As can massage and stable bandages. Stabled horses also benefit from the ‘spring back’ and orthopaedic padding of Haygain’s Comfortstall flooring system. In order to ease pressure on joints, and it keeps down bedding costs, which can rise and rise when the horse is in their box 24/7.


Keeping a horse totally alone and confined is highly unnatural. So they may start to exhibit signs of boredom, which then manifest as stable vices such as crib biting and box walking. There are a number of ways you can combat boredom and loneliness. For example by installing stable mirrors, purchasing toys for your horse that can be filled with small amounts of chaff. Or go for a lower budget option by threading apples and carrots on a string in their stable. Feeding ad lib forage will help to ease boredom too. It will also help to protect their stomach from stress-induced ulcers. The Haygain Forager is designed to slow down the rate at which the horse can consume forage. As well as mimicing the physical act of grazing – plus, it has another useful benefit too.

Hay net strain

Hay nets are useful to measure the amount of hay a horse has. As well as keeping it neat and easy to transport around a yard. However they do require the horse to twist its head and neck to get to the hay. A Haygain Forager will help to prevent your horse from developing muscular and skeletal strains associated with the prolonged twisting and the unnatural head position when they are eating from a hay net. Given how much time a horse on box rest will spend munching through hay, it is well worth considering finding another way to feed hay to them. This product also means hay won’t be mixed in with bedding.


Horses on box rest have been observed to drink less than normal. Which can elevate the risk of them developing an impaction colic. You can help to boost the amount of water they consume by carefully wetting any chaff they receive. Although often a horse on box rest often won’t need any additional feed besides its forage. Feeding steamed hay in place of dry forage will ensure the horse receives extra moisture with every mouthful and ensuring their risk of impaction colic is lower.

If you are able to make all or just some of these changes to your horse’s stable management routine, their time on box rest will be more comfortable. And you give them every chance of coming out the other side as healthy and happy as possible. Explore the Haygain product range and the myriad benefits that come with them here: