A cast horse is in a literal jam. He laid down in his stall or near a fence, rolled over and uh-oh! His legs are in a position that prevents him from standing up. Your horse may panic and thrash, injuring himself on a fence or wall. He needs to be righted quickly to prevent injury, shock or exhaustion.
A cast horse needs room to rise. If he’s cast with his legs against the wall, it may be as simple as pulling on the mane just enough to get the head and front legs away from the wall. A few inches may be all that’s needed. Put a towel under his head to protect his eye, and stand behind the horse’s back to avoid being kicked.
More often, you’ll need to roll the horse over to get his feet away from the wall. If your horse is calm, this is pretty easy although you will need to be alert and careful to stay out of danger.
If a cast horse is thrashing and really panicky, it’s a dangerous situation for both of you. Your horse will be trying to use his head as a fulcrum to get up, so it’s possible to still a downed horse by having an assistant kneel on your horse’s neck and hold his muzzle off the ground. This will allow you to attach rescue lines or administer a sedative if you’re qualified.
1. Loop a rope two longe lines or other long, soft ropes around and above his hock (rear leg) and knee (front leg) on the side opposite the direction of the roll (the legs touching the ground). Do NOT tie or secure the ropes.
2. Make sure that you can get out quickly. Your horse may thrash or kick. Pull evenly on both the longe lines to bring the legs over his trunk at the same time.
3. As the horse begins to roll past his withers, drop one line and pull the other out of the stall as you leave. Your horse may leap to his feet, and you don’t want to be in his way and you don’t want him to get tangled in the ropes.
If you horse is cast with this back towards the wall, he’s not able to get the momentum needed to begin the process of standing. If he has his halter on, simply hook the lead line on and pull him away from the wall.
If he’s not wearing his halter, put one on if you can do so safely. You can try putting a blindfold on to calm him.
If you’re not able to get a halter on, approach him from from the head. Slide a long rope behind and beneath his neck. Do NOT tie the rope in any way. Give yourself enough length in the rope so that you’re not within kicking range (about 5′). From a safe position, gently pull him away from the wall. Be aware that as you’re pulling, he’s going to try to get up. Always keep a grip on one end of the rope so you can pull the rope out with you. Pulling the rope out prevents your horse from getting tangled in the rope.
If righting a cast horse is beyond your abilities or your horse appears injured, call your veterinarian.
Once the horse is up, check him carefully for injuries. Monitor him closely for several hours to make sure a colic didn’t cause him to roll. Also, swelling or other injuries may not appear immediately, so check his legs every few hours.
Tip: Install a wireless baby monitor in your horse’s stall. You’ll be able to hear any signs of distress.
If a horse becomes cast on a regular basis, he may need a bigger stall. If that’s not possible, try banking the bedding up around the walls of the horse’s box.
Other preventative measures:
Anti-cast rollers, worn around your horse’s girth. According the the manufacturer, they provide leverage for your horse to regain his footing.
Anti-casting stall strips are vertically ribbed EVA matting strips. Installed 18-39″ above the floor, these strips promise to give enough purchase to the hooves to let your horse to push himself over safely.