Louise Does Stall Rest

Louise insists on being next to Lucy. Always.

Stall rest is something no horse enjoys, and Louise is no exception. But it is sometimes necessary, especially when a horse runs like a spotted hare over three acres of varied terrain, and somewhere along the way manages to tear the ligament that holds up her ankle.

I don’t yet know for certain that this is Louise’s problem – still waiting for the vet to come and do an ultrasound – but it sure looks like an injury to the lateral branch of her suspensory ligament. And if it is, she will need to be locked up for approximately 3 months.

I should be so lucky.

Why? Because Louise is the equine version of Houdini, and every time she escapes, she resets the calendar to Day 1.

Today is Day 1. Last Friday was also Day 1. So was yesterday. I’m beginning to think stall rest for Louise may not be possible.

I began by stripping out a 12’ X 24’ stall that looks out on a small paddock and the road beyond – entertainment. The horses view that road the same way we watch TV. I loaded the stall with bedding, hung several hay nets, put more hay on the floor, and hung two water buckets. I locked Lucy in the adjacent tiny paddock so she couldn’t possibly leave Louise’s sight. Food, water and companionship – everything but freedom.

Louise climbed over her door.

I decided that Louise’s stall rest might have to consist of confinement to the aforementioned small paddock. It’s maybe 40’ long and 20’ wide – not big enough for her to accelerate to highway speeds. It seemed a sensible compromise, at least until she got her ultrasound and we knew for certain what we were dealing with.

I left for the day and waved goodbye to Louise, standing in the big double stall with her door open to the tiny paddock. I was gone 8 hours – way longer than usual, and when I returned home, she had almost finished dismantling the fence that separated her from Lucy. The lower boards lay in tatters at her feet, and she had her teeth well into one of the top boards. As I walked from my car to the gate, she snapped that board in two and took off like the quarterhorse half of her pedigree.

What followed was her usual I-could-be-an-event-horse display. She ran. She bucked. She leaped. She spun round and round, prancing and snorting, all the while shooting me dirty looks that said, “Just try to lock me up again. I double-dog dare ya.”

Once she’d worked off her frustration at having been closed in all day, she settled down to eating hay, and I got to work on Plan C. I have a large interior stall, about 12’ X 14’ with windows on two walls and a low hang-your-head-over-it wall facing the aisle. It’s my storage stall, but it can be pressed into service as needed.

Over the winter it’s become a hay stall/shavings stall/junk stall, and cleaning it was more work than I’d hoped. An hour later, I’d taken out all the scrap lumber, put 25 bags of shavings in the horse trailer, and dragged 30 bales of hay up the ladder to the loft. I folded and hung blankets, swept out the chaff, bedded, hung buckets, hung two hay nets, and dropped another flake of hay under Louise’s water buckets.

I opened the door wide, and Louise ran right into that stall. It’s the hay stall, after all, and usually off limits. She barely noticed when I locked her in.

When I checked her at midnight, she was fine. I picked out the 5 piles of manure she’d already produced, topped off her water, and gave her forehead a scratch before leaving her for the night.

I even slept.

This morning… it’s difficult to describe the scene that met me. Louise was pressed up against the wall closest to the ring. Under her feet was a piece of plywood, along with two hay nets, three rope halters, an entire set of Wintec gullets, plastic insulators for the electric fence, a bag of ice melt, several EZ boots, and a submersible bucket heater.

I admit to standing there with my mouth open for nearly a minute, wondering how in the world she could have dragged all that stuff into her stall. Then it hit me. I’d forgotten one thing.

The wall between the hay stall and the tack room is about 6’ tall, and just beyond it, at the rear of the tack room, is a shelf 6 ½’ from the floor. On the shelf is a lot of stuff. Or was.

But that wasn’t why Louise was crammed up against the wall, and it wasn’t why Lucy was still outside with her nostrils drawn back. There was a black banty hen hurling herself against Louise’s legs, cackling like an old woman on a sugar high. Under Louise’s feet were broken banty eggs, and they’d obviously been on that shelf for a good long while without refrigeration.

I let Louise out; it was the right thing to do. Her stall rest began. Again. After the stall was properly cleaned and aired out.

This is Day 1.

16 thoughts on “Louise Does Stall Rest

  1. and WHERE was the camera ?
    We insist on camera being carried at all times !!

    ooohhhhhhhhhhh Louise… you Are Meant to be Growing Up !

  2. I wish you all success. I had a horse tear all the ligaments around his hock. The vet said he would never be able to perform to his former level. It took a year – first stall rest for three months – then hand walking on the flat and so on. During that time he had various ultrasound and massage treatments. Happy to say he is now fine -being ridden and ten years after the injury.
    Take heart. What changes did you make to feeding. Can you put another companion in beside your horse? Good luck.

  3. Thank you, Jane. 🙂 No changes to her diet. She only gets grass hay, and she wasn’t in work. There’s nothing to cut out. I have two horses, and I have her buddy beside her at all times. She just has to wrap her brain around going from 3 acres to a teeny paddock. That may take her a while. 🙂

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