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The Cast Horse

How to help a cast horse:

A horse which is ‘Cast’ in the stable can present quite a frightening picture, but with care and with the assistance of someone else, it is usually possible to help the horse to its feet.

What exactly is a cast horse:

When horses are stabled in a stable too small for the size of the horse, they often lie facing, and so close to the wall they cannot get up.  At other times a horse will inadvertently roll too close to a wall or corner of the stable and get himself stuck.  The horse in this situation is said to be ‘cast’.

Reasons:  Horses get stuck in a prone position in a stable for several reasons:  The stable may be too small for the size of the horse;  The horse may inadvertently roll too close to the wall and find that he/she cannot extend his/her legs out sufficiently far to enable himself to push into an upright position; The horse may roll during an attack of colic and because it is in pain and distressed, may not realise it is so close to the wall.

What to do  :

Detail is provided further down but in simple terms this is what you do:

1. Assess the situation – get two ropes or lunge lines if necessary (ropes are preferable). Whilst you do this, your assistant, if you have one, can keep the horse still by kneeling with care on his head but avoiding his eye. The ropes should be looped around the a front and hind leg if possible above the fetlock.

2. Stand well back and pull the horse over; i.e. roll him on his back so that his legs are away from the wall.  It is helpful for the assistant to pull the horse’s head over at the same time. Beware of flailing hooves.  If you cannot manage to roll him for some reason – the way he is positioned perhaps, you must try to pull his front end away from the wall and then his hind end.  Be careful because the horse may flail about with his legs during this procedure

3. Let go of the ropes the moment the horse is over / legs away from the wall, so that it can then get up normally.

The detail:

To the person who finds the horse in this predicament it often seems  to be quite a frightening situation especially if the horses is thrashing about trying to get up. Flailing hooves crashing against a wall make the whole thing look impossible.   Calm yourself or the person who found the horse.  It that person was you, try to find someone to help and with a bit of assistance from the two of you, the horse will manage to get up again.

Often – invariably, the horse is on it’s back with legs in the air against a wall towards a corner of the stable.

The first thing to do is to see if you can physically, without getting hurt, using your hands, pull the horse by his legs further away from the wall.  If this seems unlikely, quickly find something to pull the horse out of the corner or away from the wall.

Two ropes are best of course, but lunge reins will do if you cannot find anything else.  Do try to get someone to help you if at all possible – it is much easier with two of you.  One person should put weight on the horses head to keep them still – do not of course sit on their eye!

As carefully as you can – and without getting inadvertently kicked by the horses legs which could be thrashing out, get a rope looped (not tied) round the two furthest lower legs just above the hoof is probably best – one front and one back.  Then haul to pull the horse over whilst your helper turns the head at the same time but do be very careful at this stage because the horse could thrash about and will be in a hurry to get up.

Be ready to move out of the way quickly.

Talk calmly to the horse and pat it if this is safe.  Keep talking calmly to the horse.  Offer the horse a drink – it may have been there for some time.  See if there are signs of colic and call the vet if so.

Bruising & injuries:

It is possible it may have been thrashing for some time and could have bruises on its head and legs so treat these with care and if you use any homeopathic remedies such as arnica now would be a really good time to make use of them.  Call the vet if you are concerned about any other wounds or bruising.


If the horse has been in the cast position overnight it may well have been thrashing about for some time. The horse may be exhausted and very thirsty – make sure there is plenty of water available and  allow it to rest that day. (A good reason to have accommodation close to stabling so that you can hear if there is a problem!)

The next few days:

Take GREAT care when tacking up over the next few days as the bruising on various areas from wither to hocks and knees, and on head and face could be extensive but not visible.

Plan for the future:

If the stable might be a little small, it is imperative to get the horse moved to a larger stable. The average horse requires a 14 x 12 or 14 ft stable – yet they are commonly sold by manufactures at 12′ x 12′!

  • It is said that the horse requires as the optimum space, 16′ x 16 ‘.
  • This therefore is a good reason for using the coral and barn system of loose stabling


Always provide deep and thick banks for the horse in future – these will prevent it lying so close to the wall and help prevent it getting cast again.

©Lingfield Correspondence

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