A move to a new yard can cause tension for both yourself and your horse. Your horse may be leaving its friends behind and have to get used to a new herd at the new stable. Your horse’s rhythm is likely to change and it may have lost its orientation in the beginning. As an owner, you probably want to make the move as smooth and easy as possible for your horse. That is why we give you 10 tips for moving your horse.
1. Proper preparation
Check with your new stable which vaccinations your horse needs and what the deworming regimen is like. In most cases, your horse’s deworming must be in order before you move. Sometimes you also need a statement from the vet that your horse has no contagious diseases. You don’t want to be faced with surprises upon arrival. It can prevent a lot of stress by figuring this out well in advance.
2. Practice trailer loading
Does your horse have trouble loading? Try to start practicing this in all peace and quiet in the weeks before the move. Of course your horse does not know on the day itself that it will be moved permanently, but the changing circumstances (compared to the training situation) can cause more stress than usual. Think of travel boots, a running engine or the trailer that is suddenly in a different place. Try to take this into account while practicing.
3. Be aware of your own tension
Moving can be exciting not only for your horse, but also for you. Horses are incredibly good at reading body language, because in nature they need it for survival.Sothere is a good chance that the horse will pick up on your stress signals. Therefore try to stay relaxed yourself. Do you notice that you are building up tension on the day itself? Ask others for help with moving or trailer loading so that your horse does not pick up on your tension.
If you have the choice, preferably move the horse in spring. If you move just before the horses go on the fields in the new yard, the herds are often not really set yet. In summer, the horses often already have an existing and settled herd.
5. Is management changing a lot?
For example, is your horse turned out much longer in the new stable or much shorter? Then try to introduce this change gradually. Build up slowly in your old stable or slowly build up in your new stable.
A new yard may use different feed. Maybe your horse will switch from hay to silage. The first week you can mix some feed from your old stable in with your new stable’s. This can help your horse’s intestines get used to it gradually and reduce the risk of colic.
7. Provide plenty of roughage
A move can be very stressful. Stress can lead to gastric ulcers. A lot of roughage can help to reduce the chance of this because the horse produces saliva, which stabilizes the stomach acid. Moreover, it is a nice distraction for your horse.
8. New friends
Of course you would like the horse to be able to be turned out quickly with the group. Take the time to build this up slowly. Especially if it is a settled and stable herd, it can be very helpful for your horse and your own peace of mind to slowly get your horse used to the group. First place your horse next to the herd with a fence in between so that the horses can see each other without being able to touch each other. Then put a horse that is low in the hierarchy separately in with your horse. Build up the introduction to the new group step by step.
9. Explore the grounds in hand first
Take the time to familiarize your horse with the new environment. During the first days, take a walk around the grounds and explore the arena and any other facilities together.
10. Take your time
It may take a while for your horse to get used to the new place. It may have had to leave its old herd mates behind and lost its orientation at the new stable. It differs per horse how quickly they get used to the new situation. You know your horse best, so trust your gut when taking new steps.