Nutrition During Stall Rest

Q. I purchased a 3-year-old Thoroughbred gelding with a fractured knee. My veterinarian put him on lay-up for an additional four months of stall rest (he has already had two months) with hand walking twice a day. Then, after additional X rays, he is to be turned out to pasture for another eight months before he can begin any training. I am concerned about nutrition during both the period of stall rest and the subsequent turnout. What should he be fed? Does he need any supplements or vitamins? I might add that after 30 days of tranquilizers, he is quite full of himself.


A. The best nutritional program for the period of stall rest and turnout is really pretty simple. Most importantly, you want to feed an amount appropriate for the reduced exercise that your horse is going to get--you certainly don't want him to get fat.

For most adult 1,000-pound horses at a non-working activity level, feeding something along the lines of 15 pounds of forage a day should be adequate. You can check to see how well he's doing, too, by simply feeling along his sides. You shouldn't be able to see the ribs, but you should be able to feel them easily.

About the Author

David Ramey, DVM

"David Ramey, DVM, is a 1983 graduate of Colorado State University. After completing an internship in equine medicine and surgery at Iowa State University, he entered private equine practice in southern California in 1984. Dr. Ramey is also a noted author and lecturer, having written for and spoken to professional and lay audiences around the world on many topics pertaining to horse health. See also"

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