Moving to a new stable or getting a new horse can be exciting. However, moving can be difficult for horses. While us humans typically have some say in where and when we move, horses don’t have this. They’re uprooted from everything they found familiar and placed in an unfamiliar environment. This can be incredibly stressful for your horse. As such, it’s important to know how to help your horse adjust to a new home.
Different Horses Adjust Differently
While one horse may need six months before they truly feel at home in their new environment, other horses can adjust in mere days. On average, horses need a week or two to settle into their new home.
If you are someone who shows frequently, it may be easier for your horse to adjust to a new home. If your horse doesn’t venture beyond the grounds of the stable, it may be more difficult for them to adjust to a new home. Keep an eye on your horse and make any necessary adjustments in order to help them settle in.
Some horses can adjust to a new home with fairly little upset, while others can become very upset and need more time. With the fact that individual cases vary in mind, let’s get into how you can help your horse adjust to a new home.
Helping Your Horse Adjust To A New Home
Before you move your horse, you want to ensure that they’re up to date on their Coggins test, vaccinations, wormers, and the like. Ensure that their new home is safe, in good repair, and has enough room for them to move around and lie down. Check that the other horses look healthy and happy. Be sure that you feel comfortable with the people around the stables and like you can trust anyone who will be part of your horse’s care.
Once you’ve found a new stable that you feel will be a good fit and you’ve done all the necessary steps prior to actually moving your horse, then it’s time to make the move and help your horse adjust to a new home.
#1. Be Patient
Was your horse calm and sweet before the move but now they’re all kinds of nervous and upset? It isn’t easy for most horses to adjust to a new home, so it’s important to be patient with them. This doesn’t mean that your horse changed personalities, it just means that they’re stressed. Horses may not act the same when they first move because they are in a new situation. As your horse settles in, you will likely see the horse you know and love come back.
Give your horse a week or so to adjust to their new surroundings before you start riding them again. Be patient while handling them. As usual, you want to be firm about boundaries and manners, but don’t jerk them around.
Give them lots of love and attention during this time of transition. Grooming is an excellent way to bond with your horse. Simply sitting with them as they roam around a paddock can help them feel more comfortable in their new home. Take them on a walk around the property and let them explore at their own pace. The sooner that they realize this place is safe, the easier it will be for them to adjust to a new home.
#2. Watch How They Eat And Drink
Horses may not eat or drink as much when you first move them due to stress. However, you want to ensure that they are eating and drinking regularly sooner rather than later. Most horses resume eating and drinking normally quickly, but if yours doesn’t, you may need to call your vet.
If your horse will be changing feed, like from alfalfa hay to alfalfa cubes, be sure to stock up on some of their old feed to make the transition easier for them. Your horse shouldn’t lose weight, and if they do, you’ll want to call your vet.
Horses can be very picky with their water, which can make it challenging for them to adjust to a new home with new water. You can help them with this by adding some electrolytes to their water for a few weeks prior to the move and for a bit after, so that it tastes similar. If your horse shows signs of dehydration, it’s important to do what you can to remedy the situation.
#3. Keep A Regular Routine
It’s easier for horses to adjust to a new home if you keep to a routine, especially one that is familiar to them. If their feedings and turnouts happen on a regular schedule, this helps them to know what to expect and to feel more comfortable.
If you make changes to the routine, do it slowly and pay attention to how your horse reacts. For instance, if you want to start riding again, it’s a good idea to lounge them first, to get a gauge of their temperament and energy levels. You may decide to build up to riding and build up the intensity of your horse’s workouts.
In order to better help your horse adjust to a new home, it’s best to minimize stress to make the transition as smooth as possible. A regular routine and slow changes help with this.
#4. Pay Attention To Any Changes
You can expect some changes in your horse’s behavior when you move them. However, as they settle in, they should go back to how they were. Keep a close eye on any changes, especially any physical changes, as these can be signs of illness. Moving horses can increase their risk for colic, tying-up, respiratory diseases, and more.
If your horse continues to be stressed and anxious past the first couple of weeks in their new home or if they start showing physical symptoms, like losing weight, you will want to contact your vet.
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