The Chinese New Year public holidays last week meant that many horses had two days off work. Rarely do we give performance horses to consecutive days of “stable rest” without working them. Watching the horses come out for work on Sunday morning, it was clear which horses had been locked up for two days – they were the ones bucking and squealing, happy to be out of their stable.
“Stable Rest” is like jail to the equine athlete. They need to move and stretch their limbs and muscles. To coup them up in a small box means they very bored, and can lead to other things:
- Some horse are more prone to “tying-up” and leaving them without any work for a few days and then suddenly working them is likely to tie them up.
- Horses in stable rest are more likely to colic than horses in work.
- Horses are likely to be more exuberant when they finally get taken out of their stables after a few days of “rest.” Be ready for that bronco ride.
With the Chinese New Year holidays falling on Friday and Saturday last week, we chose to give them Friday off, and paid the staff overtime so that we worked as normal on Saturday.
Even horses that are “off work” should still be taken out for a walk. Unlike many others, our horses come out twice a day for work. If, for some reason, we are not working them twice in a day, we still take them out of their stables for a walk or put them in a paddock.
This always works well for us, and we believe it is better for the welfare of the horses.