Familiarizing Your Horse to a New Property

  • New Property Post.jpgLately, I’ve been thinking about moving my horse from one of our farms to another. As I’ve contemplated the move, I began to go over in my mind all of the things I would need to do in order to safely familiarize her with her new home. Whether you’re thinking of moving your horse because of a move of your own or perhaps you are changing boarding facilities, these tips that I’m sharing and plan to implement myself should make the move as worry free as possible.
  • Make the move in daylight. While horses see far better at night than humans, making the move during the daylight hours can allow you to show your horse around his or her new home more efficiently. Use this time to acclimate your horse to his or her new home by walking the fence line and exploring his or her new turn out area or pasture.  If he or she will have a new barn, you can also familiarize your horse with its interior as well as where he or she will be stabled.

When you set your horse free for the first time in his or her new turn out area or                 pasture, make certain that you have plenty of time to sit back and watch that no                 accidents occur. If your horse is moving in with new pasture mates, you’ll also want          to make certain that he or she is getting along well with the other horses. You                      might consider a more gradual, rather than an all at once approach to introducing            your horse to new herd mates.

  • Make good use of old bread wrappers or surveyor’s tape. If you are using any type of electric wire fencing be sure to shred old bread wrappers or purchase surveyor’s tape and tie them to each strand of the fence at consistently spaced intervals to provide a more visible barrier until your horse becomes more  accustomed to the new fence. There are many differing opinions about the safety of electric fencing for horses but I have personally had good success with high tensile electric fencing.
  • Check for safety issues. Horses are notoriously accident prone. Because your horse’s new home will be new to you both, look for things like protruding nails in the barn or holes in the pasture which could potentially lead to an accident.
  • Prepare for a change in drinking water. If possible, begin this process in advance of the move. Some options include mixing certain powdered drink mixes or sports drinks to the water at home then doing the same with the unfamiliar water. Dropping mints, apple, or carrot slices into unfamiliar water can also encourage your horse to drink. Another option might be hauling water from your horse’s old home until he or she becomes more familiar with the new water source.
  • Try to keep to a familiar routine. Because stress can lead to a variety of health conditions, try to lessen your horse’s stress over the move by keeping to a routine he or she is familiar with.
  • Don’t make abrupt changes to a new feed. Whether moving to a new home or not, it’s always best to make any anticipated changes to feed or hay slowly.
  • Monitor closely in the following days and weeks. Some horses are more stoic than others. Be sure to watch for signs that your horse might not be acclimating well and head off issues before they develop into true problems.

By following these steps as I plan to, you’ll be sure to make your horse’s move as easy as stress free as possible.

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