Moving day is stressful for everyone. Packing all your stuff, moving it, and getting used to a new environment can be a very nerve-wracking situation. Moving can be even more stressful for your horse. They most likely will not understand what is going on, just that everything is new and potentially scary. It’s up to you to help your horse adjust to their new home. Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you and your horse get settled into your new barn!
Get organized before you get moving. Moving day can be extra stressful if you are running around at the last minute putting everything together. Get everything sorted ahead of time. Schedule vet visits before moving day to get your horse up to date on all health issues. You want to have enough time between the vet visit and moving so your horse is not doubly stressed by back-to-back trips. Make sure to pack up everything you can before moving. If you’re rushing around trying to find things to pack, your horse will sense your stress and become nervous themselves.
At the new barn, check the pasture, the fences, gates, and stall walls to make sure there are no hazards or weak points. You want to make sure there are no spots that could injure your horse. Prepare your horse’s new stall before they get there. Set up bedding in the stall (try to use the same bedding as their old home if you can). Set up water and hay in the stall. Even include some salt for your horse. You’ll want to make sure the stall is fully stocked as your horse gets used to it. Give your horse enough food and water so they can be comfortable as they take in the new sights and smells of their new home.
If you need to transition your horse to new feed and water, it should be done gradually. For the first few days, add only a small amount of the new feed with the old feed. After a few days increase the amount of new feed you mix in. Over the next week or two, transition to just the new food. Making the change gradually will allow your horse’s gut to acclimate to the new feed and lessen the chance of colic. Your horse may also be adverse to drinking strange new water. This can be a problem as dehydration can also cause colic. A trick to help is, a few weeks before you move, start adding sugar to their water. Add the flavoring to the new water once you move. Your horse won’t notice the difference in the new water. Gradually reduce the sugar or other flavoring once your horse is settled.
To help ease the transition for your horse, maintain their usual routine. Make their feeding, grooming, and exercise schedule as similar as possible to their old one. This familiarity will help your horse adjust to their new surroundings. If you need to make changes to their schedule, do so gradually. Too many changes at once may upset your horse.
Give your horse lots of affection during the transition to a new home. Once your horse is settled, take them out to walk around and let them explore the new places. Let your horse explore at its own pace. Show them lots of affection and give them lots of grooming sessions to help keep them calm and relaxed.
The most important thing is to give your horse time to adjust to their new surroundings. Gradually make any changes to schedules and feed. If there are other horses, be sure to introduce them slowly. Pay attention to your horse. Make sure they are eating and drinking regularly. Check for any signs of excessive stress or nervousness. Monitor your horse’s weight. If there are any problems with your horse adjusting be sure to contact your vet.
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