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