For the first time in 7 years I can sit at my kitchen table and relax with my beverage of choice(Okay lets not lie it’s either coffee or wine) and watch my horses graze in my back yard! That is right the boys are home and are settling in just fine! 😀
I can say I moved into the right neighborhood. What is it about horse women that we seem to literally just know when someone new is in the area? I was hooking up my horse trailer to go get the boys and as I turned around a horse and rider were walking down the road. It turned into a fateful meeting of new friends. And funny enough her horse is named Cash as well but he was an older grey gelding. Though I think there must be something in the name because he instantly began nuzzling my hoodie pocket and licking my hand for treats….My Cash does the same thing…..hummmmmmmm…But back to my new horse friend. She even introduced me to two other riders and explained how the trails work around the area and who the neighbors were, and even who the guy is that used to hay my pasture! Talk about awesome friends!
Horse women can either be the nicest or frankly the bitchest of people you meet. Thankfully those I met are distinctly of the former variety. They are even being so kind as to ride with me to show me all the local bridle paths and trails tomorrow! (stand by for a post on how this adventure is gonna go) Cash better mind his manners!Needless to say I have a fantastic feeling about the local horsewoman here and for once in a very long time I truly feel at home and at peace here.
So on the topic of settling in horses I thought I’d do a little info post. Some standard things when you bring horses to a new environment whether it be at shows or moving to a new barn.
1.) Check the area your horses will be living and working in. Make sure there are no sharp objects or anything that your horse could get caught up in and hurt. If there is fix it before you put a horse in there because, Murphy’s law, they will find it within 2 seconds.
2.) Some horses get really nervous and anxious, especially where they are by themselves or have very limited views of other horses. I have found having their food in their stall really helps. Food quite literally calms horses down, so if you can coax them to eat it will help settle them in much more quickly.
3.) Take the horse for a walk around the area. Let him see the scary sights. Keep everything positive. Let him take his time looking at stuff that looks odd to him. It’s a new place and any prey animal is gonna be nervous to start until they can check their surroundings. If you can ride it do so, if not put on those walking shoes and bring some treats.
4.) Try to keep what ever routines your horses have had before (such as feeding times). Whether by you or the staff at his last barn. Normal routines will help to settle them in. Once they are used to the area then you can mix it up if needed, until the horse gets used to moving (ie. to shows and back)
5.) Be ready for them to need a day or two to fully relax. If going to a show and it’s possible try to coordinate before hand to get there a day or two early IF your horse needs it. If it is not possible(cause we all know it costs that illusive thing called money) then long before the show start to trailer you horse out to different locations and get them used to new areas and going riding soon after you get there. It will make going to the shows a tad less stressful on you and the horse if you’re used to going new places.
-*note*I try to make my trailer a safe place that they know they are ok. If they are tied to the trailer they understand there is treats and goodies in the tackroom, and while they may be nervous they seem to be more interested in begging for a treats then bolting or pulling back.
6)Take it slow. If it’s their first time out and about be ready for a lot of slow walking or trotting or stopping and staring.
-*note* If at all possible(and really its best safety wise in general to ride with someone else) take a “steady eddy” with you. A good horse that is not prone to spooking and who can act as a guide horse for the inexperienced one. Horses will feed off each other and if one horse isn’t scared the nervous one will calm down a lot more than they would on their own. It also helps to have that horse that will cross streams or ditches that an inexperienced horse would put up a fight over.
7)DO NOT beat a horse with a whip or kick it like crazy to make them go towards something they think is scary. A horse is a prey animal. If you start adding pain to a situation where they are scared that’s when you can induce their “fight of flight” response and create an accident where you and the horse can get hurt. Give the horse some time to reason out the situation. There are often times where an unsure horse will willingly go forward with just little encouragements and it will be an overall very positive situation. (Check out my post Conquering Ditches to see what I mean about keeping it positive)
Have you ever met unexpected friends? Or had some crazy experiences moving your horses? Let me know in a comment below or on Facebook!
Until next time.