Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bringing The New Horse Home

     When you purchase your new horse and bring him home, there are some things to remember....
Firstly, horses figure out pretty quickly that they have a new home.  Even horses that are seasoned haulers and are used to being put up in different stalls at shows seem to realize that this place is different - is more permanent.  These seasoned guys know the show routine but a new "home" is not the norm.  The young or unseasoned horse just goes "wow, where am I now??".
     So, this sets up responses and reactions you need to be prepared to deal with.   Everything from a scared horse to one that must show off to all his new buddies.  Most show horses just take it all in stride but even these troopers are probably a little tense though you wouldn't know it by looking at them.
     I try to make everything relaxed and calm for any new horse coming to its new home.  I create an easy environment for them to adjust to. 
     Many horses are not worked for two or three days which I think helps them settle in during this new period.  I always have hay in their stall and give them lots of it.  Then I ease them into their grain and supplements slowly.  Remember that horses won't colic from hay but they can colic from the combination of stress and grain.  I probably won't give a new horse grain for another two or three days after a move.
     When I turn them out, it's in a secure fenced area (no hot wire) and preferably with a calm horse in the nearby paddock or corral.  I also put geldings near geldings and mares near mares.
     When I work the new horse for the first time, I like to longe them for a while - just an easy exercise to get the kinks out.  No bitting up or expectations, just an easy work with time to look around.  Then, when I get up on them for the first time, I make sure to take plenty of time with them and ask them to softly bend around, giving and relaxing to the bridle.  I make sure the first few sessions are nice and easy, not adding to their stress.
     I find that this all makes for a very successful and easy transition.  We humans need to remember that not every barn or trainer or owner is the same.  When everything's different, a little time and patience can make for a much better transition!  See you next week!  JD

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