Bringing a New Horse Home
Bringing a New Horse Home
Getting a new horse is an exciting time, but it can also bedaunting, particularly for your new horse. Throughout the process his healthand well-being are paramount, so following certain procedures to help this iscrucial. For horses, the move is stressful and tiring, which places extrademands on his immune system. However, with a little careful planning, it ispossible to limit the horse’sstress and help him to settle in as easily as possible.
Stress makes a horse more susceptible to illness, so it isessential that the environment you are bringing them into is scrupulouslyclean. Use a disinfectant such as Aqueosin the stable, and make sure all water buckets, feed buckets, utensils,grooming kit and rugs are also disinfected – infact, anything that you are going to be using on your new horse should bedisinfected (unless it is brand new of course).
Horses can also bring infections into the yard that canspread if not contained. Keep the new horse isolated for two weeks and followbarrier nursing advice, such as only one person dealing with the horse,changing clothes before dealing with different horses and disinfectingfootwear. It may seem excessive, but it can make a huge difference to thewell-being of all the horses on the yard.
Find out from his previous carer what his management systemswere and follow them as closely as possible to start with. Make any changesgradually to allow him to adjust without stressing him further. Within a fewweeks you should be able to incorporate him into your own management methods.
Feeding and bedding
Changing feed too soon is a big cause of colic. Stick to hisold brands to start with and introduce new feed types gradually. If possible,get a couple of bales of hay from the old suppliers and then mix your own hayor haylage in with it. The same holds true for bedding; try and use the type heis used to in the short term until he is settled.
Yes, you’veguessed it – follow his old routine tobegin with. If you horses live out but he is used to coming in at night, hewill find it a bit of a shock to be left out 24 hours when he first arrives.Instead, leave him out for longer periods over time.
To start with, turn him out on his own, but in sight ofother horses. Horses are herd animals and have not evolved to be alone.However, turning a new horse into an established herd without takingprecautions can lead to injuries as a new pecking order is determined. It’s also important he remains out oftouch of other horses while he is in isolation.
When the time is right, introduce a less dominant horse tothe new horse, and allow them to become used to each other. You can then startintroducing him to the other horses – justremember to keep it as stress-free as possible.
It’stempting to jump on your new horse as soon as he arrives – but resist! He needs time to settleand become used to his new surroundings. Some horses have a more laid backtemperament and will tolerate being ridden straightway, but others will bestressed and may react badly. For the sake of safety leave it a couple of days,then ride out with a calm horse.
So the takeaway messagehere is to keep everything clean, clean, clean (with Aqueosdisinfectant of course!), and make changes gradually. Hopefully you andyour horse will have years ahead together so no need to rush this stage – you’ll geta better bond if you help him deal with the stress as best as you can.