Alone on farm, horse cast in stall, what is your protocol?

This happened to me this weekend, and gave me quite the scare. It turned out okay, with only a couple of scratches on my gelding, and about 3.5 years off my life.

My stalls have interior sliding doors that open to the aisle, and exterior dutch doors to the dry lot. Exterior doors are latched open pretty much 24/7 for free choice inside/outside access. My gelding likes his after dinner nap, and always naps inside. Thankfully, for the first time in a couple weeks, I had my windows open when I heard some banging. I thought it was my dog trying to hide in a closet upstairs (fireworks) and went to check. He wasn’t there and instead I found my cats sitting at the open window, staring out at the barn. That’s never a good sign, so I went to check. I found my gelding cast with his legs on the side of the stall where the aisle door is. I don’t know if he laid down to nap too close or decided to roll and got stuck or what, but he gave me a look like “a little help please”. Since I was alone, I didn’t know what I should do first: try to help him on my own, call the fire department, or possibly the one “neighbor” at the beginning of my private road who knows horses. I don’t know his phone number, and he’s battling cancer, and I don’t really know him too well so I opted for number one first. I was able to get the aisle door open, a lead rope around a hind pastern and get him to shift enough to get some space to finally gain some leverage and get up. He’s thankfully pretty calm and not one to panic.

I realize I’ve only seen a cast horse once, when I was a little kid, and was therefore shuffled out of the way for the adults to deal. I hope to never see it again, but I’m wondering what the general consensus is for other people when you have this situation and are alone.

VERY CAREFULLY try to loop a leg with a rope. Goose the horse a little to encourage some struggle and pull with everything I’ve got to try and either scoot them or flip them. If flipped, I either exit or suck tight to the wall, whichever is more prudent.

I’ve never even contemplated called the FD or a neighbor. I guess I must be lucky that I’ve never had one that stuck!


Yep. Loop a leg, flip em over, get out of the way. I’ve never had one truly thrashing–they’ve always been grateful for the help.

Glad you were able to address it, and none the worse for wear!


If you can’t get someone to come help, the first thing would be to tell someone, anyone, that you have a horse down and are going to try to help him. Entering a confined space with a horse in trouble is extremely dangerous, and you want someone to notice if you don’t re-appear.


This is great advice, actually. I neglect to tell anyone because I’m often without my phone directly on my person, but will make sure to take a minute in the future to do so.


What everyone said, especially @wsmoak
If horse does start thrashing GET THE HELL OUT.
When it happened to me, I was with DH late at night at a boarding barn.
I had him first phone the vet, then sent him to get the trainer - house on the property - then got a lead around (aged mare) a hind, above the hock & PULLED
TG, trainer & DH arrived as my strength alone was not enough to get the large mare turning over.
We got her up, no worse for the wear.

Like your cats, what alerted us was, as we exited the arena where we’d been riding, barn was unusually quiet & Every.Single.Horse was looking at the mare’s stall.


I’ve never had a cast horse but I never go to the barn without my phone. “What if…” means a lot of different things when there isn’t someone in the house knowing you walked over to the barn. Any number of minor accidents could be really difficult without being able to call for help.


I had a home bred filly who got cast frequently from 2-4 years of age. She would just lie there quietly, waiting for me to do something. All I can remember doing is pivoting her front end away from the wall which gave her enough clearance to use her hind legs to get up. We used shavings over rubber mats, so the shavings acted a little like ball bearings. As I recall, I would loop a rope around the base of her neck to pull. Since I wasn’t trying to flip her (I was worried about getting clunked with a flailing leg), most of the weight was on the ground, not on me. But this was in the era before cell phones were prevalent, when I was young and strong. Great idea to notify someone even if they can’t come help you.

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I’ve had to unstick a couple of different cast horses, and with one, just grabbed a front leg and pulled her over, the other I used a rope around a hind.

But I am the world’s worst at keeping my phone with me - at any time. I will put it in a small case I wear around my waist when I ride, but never remember to take it with me when I’m just heading out to clean stalls, groom a horse, or whatever. I had an apple watch for a short time (job related) and felt a little more connected while wearing it (had it’s own SIM card so didn’t have to be in BT range of the phone), but I’m not sure I want to spend my own money on that!

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It all depends on if I remembered to charge it or not. If not, it stays in the car. I have an old phone with a really crappy battery life, so it happens. I hear what you’re saying though!

Tell someone what’s happening.

Put on your helmet and gloves.

If they aren’t stupid about it (the horse) get a long rope and make a loop around the hind pastern that’s closest to the ground. If he’s stuck on his LEFT side, you want the left hind pattern. I run the loop around the pastern itself…I don’t want it falling off when he goes to get up.

Back off, get back, and pull. Rocking his hips will often get them wiggling and they’ll get them selves in a position to get up. Ideally you can flip them toward you still many a time just getting them to wiggle and you pulling in synch will get them freed up.

If it’s a big horse and it’s too much…call the fire department. Not 911, just dispatch. You need strong backs and you might need the left fore pattern as well.


Ditto loop a leg. I actually looped the front and the back leg that were against the wall, of my not so thin Tennessee Walker — at 2:00 in the morning because I keep an intercom on my night stand and knew what was happening.

I didn’t bother to wake DH as he thinks hollering in the middle of a crisis helps to solve things.

I prayed for strength, thankfully this horse stayed calm when I said “you gotta trust me buddy”, and my 5’2” self managed to flip him over.

I got out of his way, he got up, shook it off, I went back to bed but not to sleep, lol


Hi! What kind of intercom do you have?

Grab a lead rope, make a loop out of the snap end, loop over an underside leg (if you can get to one) and pull from as far back as possible. Which leg depends on the angle they are stuck, and obviously what legs you can safely get to. Drop the rope as soon as the horse is over in case they scramble or flail. I like to use the snap end for the loop because it is easily undone vs tying knots that might over tighten and have to be cut off an anxious horse.

I loop a front leg, whichever is closest to the ground and pull. Have I done it wrong? I thought I read pulling them over with a front leg was easier than a hind leg.

Either way, it worked to get my girl uncast. I expected her to be really freaked out as she can be pretty reactive but she remained calm the whole time.

Watch for colic. My girl wound up having to go to the vet due to colic after getting uncast. It’s possible she rolled because she was colicing or coliced because she got cast. I lean toward the second since she had a displaced colon (I think it was).

Best not to tie anything to any leg, may cause problems once horse is back on it’s feet if it gets tangled with or scared of it.

Get a long rope, or tie two lead ropes as one and fish around whatever opposite leg, on the wall side, is handiest or seems will work best.
Twist said rope ends several times, until is tight on the leg and then pull from it, best at a little bit downpull angle.

As the horse flips over and stands up, the rope should untangle itself and fall off, loose from any leg.

We had a silly yearling colt that every day at noon would lay down and nap by the pipe fence.
Then when waking up would roll into the fence, legs thru the pipes and he would just lay there, waiting for help.
Every - single - day.
We turned him out and he never again did that later when he was put in the pens.

Glad that the OP could free the horse, horses don’t do well down for long, the weight itself of organs can squish them too much and cause problems.


Thanks for all the replies! It’s heartening to hear that if it ever happens again (and it better not!), I should be able to handle it on my own again, and I essentially did the right thing. I honestly can’t remember if I had my phone with me or not. I actually generally do, especially if I’m going to the loft to drop hay, not always, like at my 10:00 bedtime night check. I really miss flip phones that fit in a pocket! When will they make smart phones pocket sized again?!?

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I have one of those expanding belts with pockets for phones:

They make all kinds of those, some very fancy colored ones.
You can use that to go to the barn for night check when you don’t have a pocket for a phone.


The worst case I had was when the horse’s body was against the back all but his head was around the corner on the side wall. Luckily I wasn’t alone. If we had tried to turn him over it would probably have broken his neck. We ended up pulling him by his tail until his head had come around the corner. We then managed to get a lunge line under his hind end and were able to pull him completely away from the wall.

Fortunately he seemed to know we were helping and stayed completely quiet the whole time. This was my two year old.

I had several cases when I was completely alone. Horse was at the back of the stall. I managed to stand over his head and grab both front legs and rocked him back and forth. Then with a karate shout I used every bit of strength I could muster to rock him over. I had to run to get out of the stalls but his front legs still got me. Fortunately no great damage to either of us.

Another odd case when the horse was cast against the front wall. When I opened the door his hind end fell out of his stall. Fortunately it gave him some room to scramble and able to get up.

These incidents all happened before cell phones but then I always forget to keep it with me anyway.

@NaturallyHappy mine are old - Radio Shack old, lollol I bought up a bunch when they went out of business in my area.

They old FM baby monitors.

The barn is 500 feet from the house - they do the job, for just audio. I’ve broke up a few cat fights over the years because of them, lollol

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