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Regional, Monthly All-Breed Horse Magazine
Distributed throughout the Greater Rockies Since 1993

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Copyright 2010 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

Stable Smarts

Excerpts of Sensible Tips from the book

by Heather Smith Thomas, Salmon, ID

 

October 2010 Issue

 

Rescuing A Cast Horse

 

     Sometimes when a horse is in a stall or small pen, he’ll roll or lie down too close to the wall or fence and won’t be able to position his legs underneath his body to push himself up.

     For example, a horse with colic may roll because of pain, oblivious to problems presented by the wall or fence until he’s stuck against it. In horsemen’s terms, he is “cast.”

     A foaling mare is another candidate for trouble. In some cases, a horse may end up on his back against the stall wall. In a pen, he may catch his feet in the fence rails, wire or netting, and you may need wire cutters or a crowbar to remove a fence rail or pole to free him.

     Some horses in this predicament will lie quietly, waiting for help, but most will panic and struggle, beating their heads on the floor or ground or injuring their legs in the fence. If a horse struggles violently, he may twist an intestine.

     Thudding or crashing sounds from a stall, the beat of hooves against a wall, grunting, or horses whinnying (because their buddy is in distress) may signal the need for an emergency rescue. It’s not difficult for two or more people to roll a horse away from a wall or fence, but you can do it by yourself, if necessary.

 

     Walk calmly when approaching a cast horse, and talk to him quietly and soothingly. He’s already upset, and you’ll make the situation worse if you run, yell, or become frantic yourself.

     Approach his head quietly and in a low position, not only to avoid flailing hooves but also to alarm him less; a horse is instinctively afraid of something towering over his body.

     If the horse is a short distance from the wall, he may just need to be pulled back a few inches to have enough room to get his feet back down so he can scramble up. Pulling his hindquarters by the tail may work, but often it’s his front end that must be moved. A rope around his neck may give you enough leverage to pull him those few inches.

     A horse that’s clear up against the wall, however, must be rolled over by pulling on his front legs (which are up in the air), especially the leg nearest the wall.

     Start by looping a rope a couple of times around a front pastern, which will allow you to stay away from his flailing feet. Because he may be thrashing violently, do not try to grab his legs.

     Instead, brace one foot high on his neck, just behind his head, and push his head toward the wall with that foot as you pull his foreleg toward you. This will tip his weight toward the center of the stall, and he’ll only need a little leverage to push himself back over.

     As soon as he starts to come in your direction, move past his head and away from his thrashing legs. He will lunge to his feet as soon as he rolls away from the wall or fence, and you don’t want to be in his way.

     Once your horse is on his feet and has calmed down, check him for injuries such as scrapes and cuts, or dirt and bedding in his eyes. If he’s in a stall, walk him outside and see if he’s lame. Observe him for signs of colic, in case that was the reason he was rolling.

     A horse that continually becomes cast may need a bigger stall or extra bedding around the edges of the stall to discourage him from lying near the wall. In his pen, place old tires along the fence where he usually gets cast to keep him from lying so close.

Heather Smith Thomas is the author of numerous articles and 20 books. She and her husband ranch near Salmon, Idaho . For more information about her books, visit www.rockymountainrider.com/Business_Profiles/heather_smith_thomas.htm.

     Heather’s blog online is: heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com

 

Copyright 2010 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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