Sedation And Safety: When Is A Horse Sober Enough To Go Out? – Horse Racing News

|05.24.202205.23.2022|8:52am6:55pm

Short-acting sedatives are often administered by a veterinarian when a horse needs to stand still, either for a medical procedure or to calm him down so he can be examined. 

It’s important for horse owners to keep a horse safe until the sedation wears off, which is generally about an hour after administration, though some horses will come out of sedation either earlier or later than 60 minutes, reports EQUUS magazine.

A horse that has been sedated is safest in a stall. No hay or grain should be offered as he might choke if he tries to eat while still under the effects of sedation. The horse can have access to water. All items that are on the floor, like feed tubs, should be removed so he doesn’t trip over them. 

If a stall isn’t available, a small enclosure like a dry lot is fine, so long as feed and feeders are removed. A grassy paddock isn’t the best option as a groggy horse might stumble while trying to graze. The horse also should not be thrown back out in a field as he cannot safely interact with other horses – even those he knows and is friendly with. 

If none of these are available, placing a leadrope on the horse’s halter and waiting with him while he recovers is the next best alternative. Cross ties or tie ropes can be dangerous as the horse may lean into the pressure, and may fall if the straps break. Additionally, leaning will cause the halter to put pressure on facial nerves, which can be damaged.

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Once the horse begins to move without incoordination and acts like himself again, he will be fully recovered from sedation and can safely return to his pasture or paddock, or have hay or grain placed back in his stall.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.