What does it mean if a horse is ‘cast’ in its box?

Obviously, if a horse falls, or lies down, in its stable and cannot or will not get up, it is a fair indication that something is amiss. Physical injuries, such as fractured limbs, or diseases, such as colic or laminitis, may prevent a horse from standing up or, at least, make it reluctant to do so; such condititions require immediate veterinary attention.

However, unlikely though it may seem, it’s also possible for a perfectly healthy horse to become stuck, or ‘cast’, in its box simply by lying down in, or rolling into, the wrong position. Typically, a cast horse inadvertently positions itself with its legs so close to the wall of its stable, or possibly some other obstruction, that it cannot extend them sufficiently to stand up or roll over.

Of course, it is possible that the stable is simply too small for the horse but, whatever the cause, a horse becoming cast is a potentially dangerous situation. Cast horses typically panic, thrash about violently, and noisily, and may bang their legs and head on the walls of the stable. If left stuck in a prone position on their side or back for hours at a time, they will suffer muscle damage, so should be helped back to their feet as soon as possible.