A little update on our box rest hell....

Mary Poppins

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Ben is now into week 5 of box rest and is developing various swollen lumps and bumps. I think that this is quite normal but it is worrying all the same. The vet came last week (different one from my ordinary vet) and said she wasn't overly worried and it was just caused by lack of movement. But now I am finding more little pockets of swelling each time I go and it's stressing me out. It's not like his whole body is swelling up, it just swells and reduces in different places each time. Yesterday his hind legs were worse, and today they are down and his armpits are up.

He is on very strict box rest with just two 5 minute walks per day. Sometimes he walks out fine, sometimes he seems a little wobbly, like he doesn't know where to put his feet. He absolutely hammers the stable door so hard I sometimes think he is going to kick right through it, and I think that this has caused some bruising to his front legs. He doesn't seem to be settling into box rest at all and is so stressed. If I don't enter the stable with some kind of food, he tries to barge past me and there have been times where I have had to use all my body weight to act like a human door to stop him coming out.

When I lead him out he is actually very well behaved, but 5 minutes passes so very quickly and it breaks my heart every time I put him back in the box. I wish that I had some guarantee that the surgery had worked so that there will be a happy ending to all this. I hate to see him so miserable. I visit him 3 times per day but it doesn't seem enough and it takes so long doing all the jobs (constant mucking out, soaking haynets, walking him etc.) that I don't have much time left to just chill out with him.

So I am afraid it is doom and gloom from us today. Still another 3 and a half weeks until the vet comes back to reassess. The box rest is much harder than I thought it would be, and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. Even if we get good news when the vet comes to reassess, I think I will be lucky to see him back in the field before Christmas because he will need a very slow return to movement. I really am glad that I didn't know how horrible the box rest would be for him before I made the decision for surgery. Otherwise I may have made a different decision. But we are where we are, and just need some energy to keep going.
 

domane

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Oh gosh, MP, you can really feel the despondency and hard slog coming through your post :( It must be so upsetting for you but time IS passing and you WILL get there. Try not to focus on the end of his box rest, break it down into just getting through the day and try to find a little positive to think about when you are laying in bed at the end of the day. A little sunbeam (or moonbeam!) to help see you into the next 24 hours.

You are doing SO well. This has really been your annual horriblis but hats off to you for your determination and unwavering and enduring care. xxx
 

Flipo's Mum

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#3
Flipo was like this for the first wee while. I realised very quickly that I couldn’t adhere to the rules set by the vets as strictly as they wanted me too. I’d find a way to extend those walks just a little bit more if I were you. Or some inhand grazing where he can’t move too much.
It will Be hell on you until you can trust to put him out in a little pen and have some breathing space to muck out without him being there. That didn’t happen till about month four for me and was the start of me being able to spend some more quality time with him, rather than running about round him.
Chin up. Time is passing quickly. But please do bend the rules a little to suit your horse. Vets state the absolute strictest rules but do appreciate that it doesn’t suit every horse.
 

Mary Poppins

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Oh gosh, MP, you can really feel the despondency and hard slog coming through your post :( It must be so upsetting for you but time IS passing and you WILL get there. Try not to focus on the end of his box rest, break it down into just getting through the day and try to find a little positive to think about when you are laying in bed at the end of the day. A little sunbeam (or moonbeam!) to help see you into the next 24 hours.

You are doing SO well. This has really been your annual horriblis but hats off to you for your determination and unwavering and enduring care. xxx
Thank you for your moonbeam. I will take that this evening. The vet said exactly the same as you. He told me not to focus on the outcome and not to fixate on the end date for the box rest, but just treat each day individually and live in the moment. And I could do this if Ben wasn't so miserable. When I leave him, he calls to me and starts kicking the door again. Apparently this is short lived and when he knows I am gone he does settle down, but I am left feeling that he is calling out to me in desperation to get him out of his prison.

I moved him into a busier barn for the box rest as I thought that would make him happier, but it turns out that he gets more upset when the horses go in and come out. He stresses every time a horse goes out and who can blame him? I think that when he does eventually get turned out, he will be very difficult to catch again!
 

Mary Poppins

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Flipo was like this for the first wee while. I realised very quickly that I couldn’t adhere to the rules set by the vets as strictly as they wanted me too. I’d find a way to extend those walks just a little bit more if I were you. Or some inhand grazing where he can’t move too much.
It will Be hell on you until you can trust to put him out in a little pen and have some breathing space to muck out without him being there. That didn’t happen till about month four for me and was the start of me being able to spend some more quality time with him, rather than running about round him.
Chin up. Time is passing quickly. But please do bend the rules a little to suit your horse. Vets state the absolute strictest rules but do appreciate that it doesn’t suit every horse.
I have asked the vet if he can be walked for longer but he said absolutely not. He is not allowed to grass walk either because he gets so strong and pulls. Any sudden movement on his stifle joint could rip the delicate scar tissue that is forming and the vets have been very clear that if that happens, his chances of recovery will be greatly reduced. Their warnings have really scared me to be honest and I dare not do anything other than follow their every word. But then on the other hand, him kicking (and I really mean hammering) his stable door cannot be good for him either. I am pretty sure he would go absolutely ballistic even in the smallest of turnout pens. He has been known to run straight through electric fencing and when he was on small pen turnout back in February he jumped out at least 4 times.

You are right that time is passing, and it is only 3 weeks and 5 days until the vet assesses him. But then this stresses me out as well because what happens if he is still lame? It is either face more box rest (the hospital report said that if there was any sign of lameness then he needs at least another 8 weeks on box rest with bute), or we decide that nothing more can be done for him. So while I am counting down the days to the vet visit, I am also dreading it as well.
 

Mary Poppins

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Thank you. Gosh I have just re-read what I have written and I do sound very down about it all. Writing it out does really help but I need to chin up and get on with it. I am so very lucky that he is still here and I am doing everything to help him. I guess I just feel helpless. All I want to do is to make him happy and content, and at the moment nothing I can do will make that happen.
 

Flipo's Mum

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#8
Being down is totally understandable. Im sorry, I appreciate what the vet is saying but you have to judge on how the horse is in front of you. I’m not suggesting penning just now, you can’t have him make any sudden movements, but I was dealing with a horse who was cantering round me in five metre circles because he was so daft at being outside. I had to relent and give him more time outside even in the worst weather, otherwise I’d have had no horse. It’s a balance. If he’s doing more damage to himself by being cooped up, you need to spend just a little bit more time out. Maybe slow the walks down. Walk for a minute, stop, let him look around for thirty seconds, walk him on. So that in all, it’s only five minutes walking, but actually 7-10 minutes outside.
Think about other stuff that you can do, get creative. If this isn’t working, find a way. You will get through this.
 

Trewsers

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#9
I wish I could wave a wand and make it pass fast for him and you. It is so difficult, bad enough mentally when they "accept" the box rest. I felt so bad at first when Storm begun hers, I was fidgeting about in the house and couldn't settle and felt guilty not being out there checking on her literally every half hour! I am so lucky because we are eight weeks in, she's walking out grand three times a day and I take her for thistle walks twice a day too. Of course she is old, not like your Ben, and has been retired a long time, so her energy levels are probably less? I totally understand about him being strong and the risk of tearing and undoing all the good done so far. It is scary I know (we really are on our last chance:()
But on a positive note, just think how far you have both come and how much that even a small amount of "freedom" will improve him. Maybe that won't be as far off as you think??
Sorry if you already said - but did you try a herbal calmer??? Storm has been much better from the valerian.
Lots and lots of positive vibes for you both - I really do understand and feel for you, and I can almost "feel" your frustration for him - it won't be foreverxxxxx
 

Bodshi

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#10
Keeping everything crossed the next 3 weeks and 5 days passes quickly and the vet brings good news. It is horrible to think we're causing distress to our loved animals, without the means to explain to them that we actually love them very much and are doing our best to help. We had a cat hit by a car, years ago now, he had to have a hind leg amputated but because his pelvis was also broken he had to live in a tiny cage for ages, having medicine four times a day, which he hated, until his pelvis had healed. I felt terrible, he looked so depressed, but he recovered and went on to live a long and happy life and bore us no grudges. Hopefully Ben's box rest will just be a fleeting passing of time in an otherwise long and happy life x
 

Trewsers

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#11
Being down is totally understandable. Im sorry, I appreciate what the vet is saying but you have to judge on how the horse is in front of you. I’m not suggesting penning just now, you can’t have him make any sudden movements, but I was dealing with a horse who was cantering round me in five metre circles because he was so daft at being outside. I had to relent and give him more time outside even in the worst weather, otherwise I’d have had no horse. It’s a balance. If he’s doing more damage to himself by being cooped up, you need to spend just a little bit more time out. Maybe slow the walks down. Walk for a minute, stop, let him look around for thirty seconds, walk him on. So that in all, it’s only five minutes walking, but actually 7-10 minutes outside.
Think about other stuff that you can do, get creative. If this isn’t working, find a way. You will get through this.
That's a good idea with the stopping and looking round etc. I do that with the thistle walks, seems like a longer time out, but actually not that much walking.
 
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Lemme

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#12
Will they let you put magnetic bands on his legs whilst he is on box rest, even for a couple of hours at a time, I know some won't dependent on the issues, but we used these on the boys when on box rest with lammi with great results, we used cold therapy wraps on one in for injury twice a day and then mag boots inbetween. just a thought you may already have explored and discounted it.
 

Mary Poppins

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Will they let you put magnetic bands on his legs whilst he is on box rest, even for a couple of hours at a time, I know some won't dependent on the issues, but we used these on the boys when on box rest with lammi with great results, we used cold therapy wraps on one in for injury twice a day and then mag boots inbetween. just a thought you may already have explored and discounted it.
I haven't considered magnetic bands, I don't actually know anything about them. My vet hasn't mentioned their use either. How do they help?
 

carthorse

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(((Hugs))), I've found that total box rest where they don't set foot out of it & even mucking out is done around them is easier than when they get limited walks. Those walks mean so much to them that they start to get very agitated waiting for them & you get the behaviour you describe. You're lucky he's behaving on the walks, some are horrendous & it's terrifying when you know the damage they can do to themselves with one wrong move.

I've never had problems with lumps & bumps like you describe, just occasionally legs filling. I assume he's not getting much protein in his diet while he's on box rest so they aren't protein lumps?

Have you tried him on a calmer? If you have and that hasn't helped then it may be worth speaking to the vet about some sedalin to keep him more relaxed & make his box rest easier on both of you. And silly as it sounds try to keep your chin up while you're around him because they do feed of us, so before you get out the car at the yard take a few deep breaths, relax your shoulders, put on a smile & think positive thoughts.

Fingers crossed the reassessment goes well, but if you're struggling it may be worth speaking to the vet for help & support - they're used to dealing with box rest & may be able to give you ideas that help.
 

Jessey

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#16
I feel for you both, it's not just tough on them being cooped up and that wishing for the vet day but also dreading it is exhausting but your doing everything you possibly can so try not to beat yourself up over it. I found horse magnets expensive but human ones of the same strength were much more reasonable, I think I got a knee band and it fitted easily around bo's leg, and beyond this issue they are meant to be good for arthritis so you can keep using it to help him.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

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#17
I am so sorry to hear that Ben is unhappy on his box rest.

I think the "stopping and looking" idea is brilliant to extend your time out without hurting him.

I wish he could have more space to move around, being such a big horse, but I understand that he can't. I wonder if you could do something in the box, anything, just to give him something to think about. He must be so bored. I'm thinking:

*carrot stretches, avoiding the stifle of course, but he could do side to side flexions and between front legs maybe?
* a little work in the bridle - just flexions from side to side, asking him to lower his head, perhaps a step forwards and a step backwards and even a step sideways if the vet allows
* teaching him how to target with a clicker, proceeding to other things you can do in a box with a clicker, like the front leg movement for Spanish walk, how to ground tie, how to pose for a photograph...
*hiding carrots in his hay nets (or whatever is allowed)

I'm sure there must be other things, but I'm hoping that you could find something you would both enjoy so you feel less guilty!

When I started writing I had other ideas too but they've fled my head. I'll come back to you if I think of them again. Soldier on *clenched fist*
 

Mary Poppins

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Thank you for all the support. It really helps pouring my heart out on here.

I am looking into magnetic things for him but they really are expensive! I have my eye on a magnetic rug as this would help with his arthritis in his back, but it is £160. I don’t really understand how magnets help? Can anyone explain this? My cynical side tells me that it is a marketing ploy but I assume there must be some evidence as they are popular. But if it would help I would find the money.

I have done some clicker work with his which he enjoys plus he has had a massage therapist out to loosen him up and has a physio appointment booked. I am too worried about stretching him the wrong way to try carrot stretches etc. I am just so terrified of breaking him even more, I just want him to stand still and not move a muscle!

I haven’t tried any sedation. He is controllable and when he walks out he is so well behaved you would never know he was on box rest. He is just so very unhappy in the box and nothing like his normal self. But he isn’t completely crazy and wild like some are, he just isn’t him if that makes sense. The constant kicking of the door worries me but I was thinking that it wouldn’t be too expensive to get some padding so he doesn’t bruise himself so much. Has anyone done this?

I will chin up and keep going. It is Saturday tomorrow so instead of getting up at 5am, I can have a lie in until 6.30am instead. That will make me feel better.x
 

Lemme

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#19
Thank you for all the support. It really helps pouring my heart out on here.

I am looking into magnetic things for him but they really are expensive! I have my eye on a magnetic rug as this would help with his arthritis in his back, but it is £160. I don’t really understand how magnets help? Can anyone explain this? My cynical side tells me that it is a marketing ploy but I assume there must be some evidence as they are popular. But if it would help I would find the money.

I haven’t tried any sedation. He is controllable and when he walks out he is so well behaved you would never know he was on box rest. He is just so very unhappy in the box and nothing like his normal self. But he isn’t completely crazy and wild like some are, he just isn’t him if that makes sense. The constant kicking of the door worries me but I was thinking that it wouldn’t be too expensive to get some padding so he doesn’t bruise himself so much. Has anyone done this?

some info here
https://www.equinemagnetix.com/magnetic-therapy-for-horses/

these are similar to the ones we use

https://www.magno-therapy.co.uk/bioflowshop/prod_1490984-Magnotherapy-Horse-Pony-Band-Yellow.html
https://www.equinemagnetix.com/product-category/magnetic-horse-boots/


they can be kept on 24/7 if needs be, but as with all things that improve blood flow or affect body functions I would always speak to the vet before using them in a situation such as yours, especially if on bute. we also have magnetic leg wraps which we use on injuries (Knocks) which just need some help in the healing process and they do seem to , I am a fan of magnetic therapy and have seen /experienced results with it , with regard to cost its worth while shopping around , getting a good strength magnet , once you are over the initial outlay then they last for years and I suspect would hold some value for used market, although I am happy enough to keep ours in the first aid kit, you just never know when might need them.

Our ex Racer used to suffer with leg filling if stood in for some time, we had the equilibrium leg chaps for him to keep the legs warm again aiding bloodflow, and he had the mag boots on twice a day for 20 minutes if he could not have turnout, its finding out what works, if the leg bands had been available back then and from the results we have had with them then we would definitely have tried them for him.. WE also have a Magnetic therapy back pad, never been out of the box but got it at such a good deal then its worth keeping you just never know especially as they get older.
 
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Jessey

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#20
I am looking into magnetic things for him but they really are expensive! I have my eye on a magnetic rug as this would help with his arthritis in his back, but it is £160. I don’t really understand how magnets help? Can anyone explain this? My cynical side tells me that it is a marketing ploy but I assume there must be some evidence as they are popular. But if it would help I would find the money.
Short very simple version, the magnets work on the iron in the blood, helping increase flow around the body, increased blood flow means that more toxins are carried away from a problem and more oxygen is brought in to boost healing. The big thing to remember is that the magnet does NOT need to be over the bit of the body you want it to work on, the vascular system is a sealed system, so if flow increases in one spot it forces increase throughout, so a magnet on a leg will effect the whole body, you do not need to buy the super duper expensive rug as a simple leg band will do the same job :) (think of human arthritis sufferers, most still just wear a bracelet not a full back cover :))

The calmers etc. aren't just for out of control horses, they can really help those that internalize stress and unhappiness, like having chamomile tea before bed to get a more restful nights sleep :) (chamomile is my go to for the horses too, it got Bo through months of box rest when the vet prescribed sedatives weren't really working for him)

For the swollen bits, there are some really simple, non invasive massage techniques which can really help to improve lymphatic drainage, , perhaps have a chat with your physio/massage person and get her to show you, its generally very relaxing for the horse and doesn't require any movement so could def help ben mentally and physically to cope with his confinement :)