Transitioning your horse to a new horse boarding stable.
The transition process for you and your horse … Is this stressful time handled properly?
Since I have to entrust my dearest friend to total strangers and a new environment, I don’t take the decision of moving my boy lightly.
In one respect it’s an exciting time because I think the change is a positive one for both of us. However, in the same breath it certainly puts me on edge because I sure hope I’ve made the right decision and, most of all, that I haven’t overlooked anything!
Making a move go as smoothly as possible is very important since a horse that’s under great stress may not drink for example and could end up with colic as a result of impaction.
So, to make sure that the entire move goes well you need the barn owner on your side. A good barn owner knows what works and hasn’t worked in the past with other horses and what to watch for. They also know who would make a good fence buddy to help settle your horse.
They also need your knowledge about your horse to help them understand particular stress reactions that your horse may display. They have to monitor your horse when you’re not there to make sure he’s ok. Water intake for example is extremely important. Remember, they don’t know your horse intimately like you do, at least not at this stage. Team work is definitely key here.
Of course, you may have just purchased your horse and don’t really know either. In that case you’re really relying on the experience of the barn owner. But one thing you can do to help is solicit as much information as possible from the previous owner. This can really help the process.
Ask the barn owner how they will help your horse settle in. Will they make time for you and your horse on the day you arrive? If you felt so inclined, would they even let you curl up on a cot in the stall with him for the night?
Yes, that has happened to me, and it certainly was a first for me. My biggest concern was the safety of my new boarder, but I did let her try it out on a per night basis. It was a stretch for me because apart from her safety I was also concerned about the liability issues in case things went wrong, but hey, if it works and nobody gets hurt, why not?
From the barn owner’s perspective, here are a couple of things that have worked well for me.
I like the horse to arrive at a time when all the cleaning and feeding are finished. Usually late morning, but this is something unique to every barn. With the peace returned in the barn the new arrival can move into a quiet space.
And with my distractions gone I can spend some quality time with the new horse and owner. It also gives your horse the chance to take in the new surroundings, smells and sounds while it’s daylight.
I prefer to put the horse in a paddock rather than straight into a field. For some horses a large space just becomes too overwhelming so I choose to start small and work my way out as they get more comfortable.
I’ll watch him for a while with the owner and find a quiet fence buddy. Once the horse has quieted down, we may take him for a walk around the property and introduce him to some of the horses and surroundings. From there on it’s really the horse that tells me what step is next.
If the transition is difficult I keep a daily diary and watch their water and feed intake and elimination and stay in close contact with the owner to make sure I’m not missing any signs. If the transition is easy then we can start looking at finding him some compatible friends.
This works in my environment. You need to find out from the barn owner what they will do and how they will help you and your horse with the transition.
Taken from: How to Find Trouble Free Horse Boarding