From  Your Horse  -  Feb. 2015

Your Horse Ope

If your horse gets stuck in stable it can be dangerous, it's possible to free him as groom Jenny Ellis explains

Helping a cast hors

Finding your horse cast in his stable is a terrifying and heart-stopping moment. Depending on how long he's been stuck, he might be at risk of problems including muscular damage and colic and while your first instinct will be to help him, going into his stable can put you in great danger too. Cast horses can easily panic and strike out with both fore and hind legs - this can happen at any time, and often from a seemingly switched-off state.

If it's essential that you do help a cast horse, never go into  the stable alone, and if you're in any doubt about your safety, call someone experienced for advice before you do any thing - if you're injured you can't help your horse. To avoid him getting cast in the first place put good bankings in your horse's bed and so you're prepared should the worst happen; read through my six steps to freeing a cast horse below.


 Get help. A cast horse can be incredibly dangerous. Never go into the stable alone and hats are a must. Once help has arrived, quietly enter, taking care not to go near his back end or forelegs. If possible, a helper near his head can reassure him.


 Assess the situation. Try to see how he's stuck - if he's really wedged don't try to free him but call the fire brigade and explain the situation - many areas have large animal rescue specialists. A vet is likely to be needed too, so have the number to hand.


 If you think it's possible to free him, carefully reach over the centre of his back and pass or wrap lunge lines around the legs closest to the ground, above or below the fetlock. Don't tie them - they need to drop free quickly once he's turned over.


 Put a rug under your horse's face to protect it and look at the position of his head and neck - make sure they will be able to freely move when you roll him. Once he's aligned, retreat to the doorway and gently but firmly use the lunge lines to roll him over.


 As soon as he's over, let go of the lines and keep back - he shouLd soon get up , and have a shake. Once he's up, check him carefully for any cuts, scrapes or swellings, then take him for a gentle walk to see if he's stiff - this might not show immediately.


Monitor him through the day. If he looks sick or sorry for himself call your vet for advice. If you suspect colic, the sooner you get your vet out the better. Cast horses can tweak their backs so consider a once-over from an equine physiotherapist.