Your Foolproof Guide to Moving Horses To New Yards
We all know the stress that comes from moving house, but moving your horse to a different yard can be even more difficult. Whether you’ve bought a new horse and you’ve found the perfect yard to keep him, or you think your horse needs a change of scene, preparation is key when it comes to making the big move.
Worried your horse will struggle to settle in at his new home? Here’s our top tips for moving yards, and advice on how to keep your horse as happy, healthy and relaxed as possible.
Ensure you have everything ready before you move yards. This not only includes having a comfy bed made for them, complete with enough hay and water, it also means registering your horse with a new vet, farrier and dentist as soon as you can. A new yard can be stressful for both horse and owner, but getting organised and having the right contact details in event of an emergency is paramount and will help you feel more confident.
Likewise, make sure you have somewhere safe to store his passport and other paperwork, and if your horse is on full livery, tell your new yard manager when the horse last had his teeth, vaccinations and feet done.
Finally, make sure his new field is safe and secure. A mobile field shelter will give him his own space, while secure fencing is essential especially if he takes a little time to settle.
Stick to their Routine
Horses thrive off routine and just because you have moved yards doesn’t mean the routine needs to change completely. Moving home is stressful enough, but if you change his management from stabled to out in the field 24/7, it’s even more for your horse to handle.
If you are planning on changing your horse’s management at the new yard, it’s imperative that you do this gradually. If your horse was stabled at the old yard and you wish them to have 24/7 turnout at the new place, start with just putting him out a few hours during the day, building up over the course of a couple of weeks. Once he is adjusted, you will be able to leave him out at night, and provided he has a mobile field shelter, this shouldn’t be too hard for him to adapt to. Make small changes gradually, instead of big changes suddenly!
It’s important that any changes to your horse’s management are made slowly, and even more important that you stick to his routine as much as possible at a new yard. This will help him settle in and reduce stress. If you usually ride in the morning, continue to ride in the morning if you can. Give your horse stability and they will settle in far quicker.
Allow them Time to Settle
Horses react very differently to a change of yard. Some horses appear to not even notice, grazing happily within minutes, while others you’ll think will never, ever settle down. Remember that the vast majority of horses will eventually settle, they just need time!
Allow your horse time to settle by letting him be a horse! Do not expect too much from him at the start and remember that a horse’s behaviour can change drastically when they are unsettled. If you feel nervous, book some lessons in with a good instructor who can help you work through this change, and if it helps then you could lunge your horse before you ride.
If your horse likes being around others, try to ride in the school and hack with other liveries to start with. This will help your horse see that there is nothing to worry about.
But Don’t Tiptoe Around!
Having said that, it’s important not to mollycoddle your horse and tiptoe around them. Your horse will notice when you are on edge so try to be your usual confident self, and act as if very little has changed. It’s usually unhelpful to leave your horse out in the field to settle for 3 months, for example!
Instead, book some lessons, explore the new hacking routes and crack on! While horses can take a long time to settle, they need a confident leader to help them realise that everything is okay despite the change.
Get Stuck in
When moving to a new place, it’s very easy to feel on edge, especially if everyone else seems to know each other very well. Try not to get intimidated by others; don’t be afraid to ask if you need help and remember that most people are friendly if you only talk to them.
If you do struggle to make friends or find your feet at first, remember that your horse needs you to be strong and confident. If in doubt, just fake it til you make it!