Whether bringing a new horse to your farm, or moving your horse to a new location, you can integrate holistic alternatives for a successful transition. Before the move, talk to your horse. Tell your horse that you’re moving him to a new home and picture the location in your head. Show him the barn, the pastures, the riding arena, etc. Horses think in pictures and can understand your intent.
On the day of the move, provide your horse with safe travel to the new location. Move your horse in daylight to guarantee he will see all the new fence lines. Hang out with him for at least 20 minutes so he doesn’t feel abandoned. Make sure he has clean water and offer food. Show him around the new digs, and walk the fence line. Watch as he meets the new horses.
INTEGRATING INTO AN EXISTING HERD
The best way to integrate a new horse into a group of horses is to start with a fence between the existing herd and the new horse. If you have a paddock or pen that borders the group area, the horses can introduce themselves over the fence. If you have movable panels, you can create a pen/paddock to border your group area or a round pen in the middle of your group area.
Integration time will vary for each herd, but a good rule is a couple of weeks. When you are ready to remove the barrier between the new horse and the existing group, do so in a large turnout area and not during feeding time.
Once you feel all the horses are getting along well during turnout time (this could be one day or a couple of weeks), put them together during the day so you can watch the entire herd and check on them periodically to ensure all is going well.
IF THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL...
Sometimes dominant personalities just need additional time to work out the hierarchy order. If this is the case, separation will not help solve the issue, but more time will. If the new horse does not have any social skills, create a larger area for the unsocialized horse and put her with a gentle older horse willing to teach your new horse the social skills necessary to survive in a herd environment. Once the new horse has better social skills, then turning her back into the herd will go more smoothly.
FROM YOUR HORSE’S PERSPECTIVE
Whether your new horse is a well adjusted horse, comes from an abused or neglected background, or is wild and coming off the range, a new home can be stressful. Be gentle with your new horse and keep your expectations to a minimum. For abused, neglected, and wild horses, learning to trust a human is no small undertaking. Trust takes time and patience to build, and if your expectations are too high you’re only going to make the adjustment harder. Be compassionate and allow your new horse to accept her new home in her own time.
HOLISTIC WAYS TO MAKE THE NEW HORSE COMFORTABLE
- Before the move, hiring a professional Animal Communicator is a great way to connect with your new horse and make the transition to the new home go more smoothly and reduce overall stress.
- Many forms of Energy Healing (Reiki, Acupressure, Photonic Light Therapy, etc.) can assist your horse in reducing overall stress in preparation for the transition to a new home.
- Understand your new horse’s current diet and bring 3-5 days worth of his current diet to the new home to integrate with the new feed he will be receiving.
- TTouch can help calm and reduce stress for your new horse. Try the following exercises: Ear, Lying Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Belly Lift, and the Python Lift right before trailering.
According to Frances Cleveland of Frogworks (ffrogworks.com) essential oils, flower essences and herbs will assist your horse before, during, and after the move. “If I were welcoming a new horse to my home,” Cleveland says, “these are the essential oils I would have available to help them: neroli (for separation from a companion/special friend), violet leaf to comfort the heart, vetiver to help ground them, roman chamomile for its calming ways, rose to help heal the heart, and yarrow to help heal physical and emotional wounds. Yarrow is considered the Rescue Remedy of the essential oil world.”
Cleveland adds, “Remember when working with the plant/essential oils let the horse pick what she wants. It is only fair to give her a choice to indicate what is needed, when and how. Herbs I would use would be holy basil, german chamomile, nettles, oat straw, calendula, milk thistle, and dandelion root.”
DURING AND AFTER THE MOVE
Continue with the therapy you provided prior to the move. It’s important to continue to support the transition process as stress levels are still high with new surroundings and a new herd structure.
Do not make any drastic changes where diet is concerned. Mix the old diet with the new diet to further ease the transition and not upset the digestive system. According to equine nutritionist Lizzy Meyer, fiber, water, free choice salt and minerals are the most important ingredients to provide your horse. “I would add live, active probiotics, too,” Meyer suggests, “such as Tract Bios from Biostar EQ or a good prebiotic such as ABC Pro-Bi.” Meyer also recommends slow feeders to optimize the digestive system and reduce stress.
Additional ways to support your horse during and after the transition prior to going to work are: natural dentistry, parasite testing (fecals), craniosacral, chiropractic, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, and TTouches. This list is not meant to be inclusive, but offer ideas to help you support your new horse in his/her new home. Go with what feels right for you and your new horse, and allow as much time as he needs to become well adjusted in the new home.
Kim Baker is the founder of KB Natural Horsemanship, www.kbnaturalhorsemanship.com in Elizabeth CO. Her training philosophy is “Building quality partnerships and lasting relationships from the ground up.” Kim also offers KB Equine Solutions, encompassing holistic healing, pet communication, lessons, horse clinics, natural horse training and more. 303-981-2127, firstname.lastname@example.org