Uprooting and moving house can be stressful enough for a human who can quantify the reasons for doing it, but moving your horse can be a whole different ball game and even more stressful.
So, how do you introduce your horse to a new yard and a new set of friends successfully? Trainer Melanie Watson has some helpful advice.
“I think in this scenario, it’s important to give your horse the chance to explore his new surroundings at his own free will,” says Melanie. “Rather than putting him in places, such as a stable or field, either let him loose on his new yard (if it’s safe to do so), or if that’s not possible, walk him around on a loose rope and allow him to investigate at his own pace and talk to potential field buddies over the stable doors.
“Keep a close eye on his movements and see if he takes a particular liking to a certain horse. When the time comes to turn him out, make sure he has a few buddies, more than two is preferable so that he can’t become too attached or obsessed with just one friend. Try also to turn out and bring in in groups or pairs to avoid separation anxiety. If you’re worried about turning them all out together at first, introduce them over the fence at first, before allowing them into the field together.
“Also take your horse around to the school and let him explore there too, it’s important not to work him in there at first, just let him have a good look. By giving him the freedom in a relaxed unpressured environment, he should find it easier to accept new places in the future.”
Keep him calm throughout a change
With any change of routine it’s important to help your hors e to stay calm and relaxed. Here are six top tips to remember:
- Introduce any sort of change to your horse’s routine gradually
- Be vigilant about new people and horses who come into your horse’s life
- Be flexible – make sure you’re willing to change your goals or time scales to suit your horse
- Make sure your horse is never alone through periods of change – allow him to retain his herd mentality
- Seek advice from your vet and physio if you’re thinking of changing his riding routine
- Invest in some good quality horse toys to keep his mind active and occupied
More about our expert
Instinctive Horse Trainer, Melanie Watson was trained by the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, where she was in charge of dressage horses, training riders in riding schools, breaking horses, caring for broodmares and learning herd and infant psychology and behaviour. In 1985 she started her own business in Skidby and now works hand with equine vets, physiotherapists, chiropractors and horse insurance companies to assess horses with problems. For more information visit: www.instinctivehorsetraining.co.uk