September 15, 2021
Just like humans, horses can have difficulty adjusting to a new environment. Whether you're traveling to attend an away show, a clinic, or season in a different climate, a foreign environment can be a scary experience for your horse.
It's essential to know how to help your horse adjust so you can avoid any unnecessary stress. While shipping your horse is a huge factor when it comes to relocating for an extended period, the tips and considerations in this article will address how to care for your horse when you arrive at your new destination.
For tips on traveling with your horse, check out our blog post, What You Need To Know Before You Go: A Guide To Shipping Your Horse.
Hydration is key. Horses often become dehydrated when they're away from home, increasing the risk of colic and other digestive problems. Unfortunately, making sure your horse is hydrated away from home can be tricky.
The water can taste different, your horse may be too stressed to drink, or the temperature may not be what they are used to. With this in mind, you may want to consider adding either a mineral block to your horse’s stall or salt into his feed. There are many different electrolyte options available, so make sure you do your research and choose one that’s best suited for your horse.
In any new environment, it’s essential to take the time to observe your surroundings. Especially when it comes to horses, these animals are constantly finding new ways to injure themselves, and it’s better to take the time to eliminate that chance than to risk it.
Whether you're boarding your horse in a facility, temporary box stall, or in a paddock, there is always the potential for foreign objects that can be harmful to our horses. So take the time to search for any leftover nails sticking out in the stalls, dangerous clips, broken fence boards, the list goes on. Your horse will most certainly thank you later.
What’s comfier than an abundance of big fluffy shavings? Since you’re in a new environment and your horse may already be stressed, it’s a good idea to bulk up on the shavings to give them a feeling of a little extra comfort. This can also help prevent your horse from injuring himself in the stall.
Depending on where you’re traveling, bringing your own shavings is always your safest bet. However, most shows will provide them for you at a fixed cost. Whatever you decide, the more shavings, the better, even if you’re dreading the time spent picking the stalls in the morning.
We get it, packing your own hay while traveling can be a pain. However, sudden changes in hay can disrupt your horse's digestive system. If you don’t have the room to pack all of your hay, consider bringing a small amount with you to mix with the new hay gradually.
It’s also essential to remain consistent with your feeding schedule while you’re in a new place. While you may have to change it up a little bit to accommodate your show or event schedule, try to stay as close to normal as you can to prevent any unnecessary stress on your horse.
Leg protection is always a good idea if your horse is used to wearing boots or bandages, especially since horses can get stressed while adjusting to a new environment and inadvertently injure themselves.
Always make sure your horse’s bandages are wrapped correctly and securely before leaving them unattended. It is not advised to wrap your horse’s legs while they are turned out, as the wraps can come undone and get tangled.
A new environment comes with unfamiliar faces and individuals who are unfamiliar with you and your horse. Therefore, it's always a good idea to post a contact card on your stall with your emergency contact information. You can also add any trusted individual's contact information to the card, including your vet, farrier, or friend.
It may also be a good idea, no matter if you’re stabling at a show or boarding your horse in a paddock, to discuss who is on the grounds at all hours. This will give you peace of mind while you're away and let you know who to contact in an emergency.
If you’re familiar with boarding at a show with no turnout, you already know just how important getting your horse out to hand walk or graze is for their physical and mental health. Even if you are somewhere that offers turnout, hand walking allows you to spend time showing your horse the unfamiliar grounds while providing them with movement and healthy mental stimulation.
Taking the time to show your horse the lay of the land, introduce them to “spooky” objects, and give them a sense of where they are will eliminate a lot of stress for both you and your horse.
Wherever your travels take you, being away from home with your horse can be an exciting experience. Taking the time to make your surroundings feel more like “home” is a great way to have fun in a new place.
Try decorating your new space with chairs, tack trunks, and plants to allow room for people to lounge and spend time with their horses. You can even add safety hooks to hang halters, buckets, and any equipment to allow a more organized space. The more you feel at ease, the easier time your horse will have settling in, and the more you both can enjoy the experience together.
Keep Your Horse Hydrated Away From Home