Helping a Cast Horse back to its Feet

 Posted by on February 23, 2013  Health, Horses
Feb 232013

I have helped two cast horses back to their feet in over 40 years with horses. So it is not something that happens a lot but it does happen. From these two experiences there are a few key points:

  • Stay well clear of the horses legs – the horse could panic and thrash around at any time and you could get badly hurt
  • If possible sedate the horse but if this is not possible relax the horse by talking to the horse and stroking the horses head by standing or kneeling near the poll (well away from the horses legs)
  • Use a lunge line or lead rope or something similar to pull the horse away from the wall.
  • Depending on how the horse is cast you probably will not need to pull the whole horse – just rotate the horse so that front legs have more space and the horse can get to his feet.
  • Do not panic (that will just make the horse panic !) and let the most experienced person take control

A cast horse has rolled in the stable and has got so close to the walls of the stable that it cannot get up. The horse has probably tried to roll right over but because the wall is so close it has got about 3/4 of the way over and got stuck. It cannot complete the roll over because of the stable wall but with its feet in the air it is unable to push itself back to where it started to roll. The horse will probably be trying to kick out against the wall in order to use the wall to push itself back to where it started to roll. This may work but often the horse is unable to get a good push because its legs are not perpendicular to the wall so they slide against the wall rather than get a good push off the wall.

My Horse – Magnet

Magnet at West Wilts ODE

Magnet was a big 17.2hh eventer. He got cast in his stable when I was at the yard. Luckily a vet kept her horse at the yard and happened to be at the yard at the time. The vet took control of the situation and because Magnet was panicking she sedated him.

Once the sedation had taken effect and he was calm we could then pull him round and away from the wall. There were three of us and despite him being a big and, therefore, heavy horse we were able to sort of pull him round. I must admit this was a few years ago and the details of exactly how we pulled him round have faded in my memory but because he was sedated it was not that difficult and as soon as he had enough room he got to his feet by himself even though he was sedated.

What I do remember is being told by the vet that we still had to keep clear of his legs because even sedated he might thrash out with his legs.

Horse Cast with no vet

I was tacking my horse up and I could here a few bangs but I didn’t think anything of it because I knew that a horse had just been given a treat ball for the first time and I assumed he was just playing with it. However, a friend had tacked her horse up and led her horse past the stable and could see that the horse was actually cast in his stable. She called me and tied her horse up. She had a lot of experience with horses and took control of the situation asked me to get a lunge line.

Before we could consider doing anything we had to calm the horse down. This time there was no vet on the yard so we had to calm the horse by talking to him and stroking his head. We were in the safe zone near his head and well clear of his legs.

After a minute the horse calmed down and stopped thrashing around with his legs. My friend then put the lunge line round one of his front legs – the top leg because this was the easiest and safest leg. With me at one of the lunge line and my friend at the other end we then tried to pull but with the line only around one leg we just could not pull hard enough to move him.

We had to get the line around both front legs – much more difficult! I stepped over the horses head with one leg and leaned as far as possible forward so that I could push the line underneath the lower leg. This leg was on top of the horses bedding so I was also having to push it through the bedding. I was close to the horses legs with my own legs either side of the horses head. The horse seemed to understand that we were helping him and had stopped thrashing around but to be honest if he had started to thrash around again I would have to move very quickly.

Anyway the horse did not panic and the line was effectively now where the girth goes so we were now able to easily pull the horse away from the wall. As soon as he had some space he got to his feet … looked a bit shaken but a quick check showed he was OK.


Author: Chris Atkin

Chris Atkin is a videographer specialising in high quality equine videos which are typically used to sell your horse, promote your stallion or equine business or as a memento of a big competition. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube and adverts can also be produced for broadcast on specialist equine satellite TV channels.

Videos: YouTube channel or Google+