Horse and Hound has recently reported a vet’s concerns over bedding banks. Many equestrian’s favour building banks of bedding around the perimeter of stalls to prevent horses from getting cast.
A horse can get cast (stuck) in it’s stall. A horse is said to be cast when it has lain down or rolled and positioned himself with his legs so close to the wall that he can’t get up or reposition itself to roll in the other direction.
Traditional bedding banks
Banks of bedding have long been thought to reduce the risk of casting as, in theory, they prevent the horse from trapping their legs between themselves and the wall of the stable and encourage the horse to lie down in the centre of the stall. But Dr Kieran O’Brien, a senior vet at Penbode Equine Vets in Tavistock, Devon has suggested that the banks will not prevent casting but might provide a little protection if a horse does become cast. He says that the banks could even be making the situation worse.
Watch out for fungal growth
Banked bedding provides the perfect place for fungi to grow in the undisturbed areas. These can then cause spores to be released into the air which will be breathed in by the horse and cause inflammation of the airway.
If you do bank your bedding, it is important to keep it fresh to ward off the growth of fungi. In addition, it is important to remember that bedding banks won’t do anything to stop a horse getting cast unless they are very high and wide.
Video recordings of horses sleeping have demonstrated that when they attempt to get up, they often roll. This means that even a horse in the centre of the stall could be found against the wall in the morning.
Alternatives to bedding banks
If you would like to protect your horse from casting, it would be better to fix a wooden batten or rubber anti-cast strip around the stable walls, reports Horse and Hound. This should be roughly one metre above the floor. Your horse can find grip on the strip with its feet and push itself away from the wall. There are also some wall attachments that you can use which are angled in a similar
way to banked bedding.
One cure for inveterate casters is to never stable them, but this may not be a practical solution for you. Another option is to keep your horse in a stall small enough to discourage rolling. If that doesn’t work, you could construct a stall with easily removed partitions and install an intercom system which enables you to listen out for noises of distress.
An unnecessary expense
Many horses will never become cast in their lifetime. For others, casting is a frequent nightmare. If your horse is prone to casting, steep banks of bedding might do the trick but do bring with them the danger of fungal growth. The bedding banks could simply be creating unnecessary work and expense for you.