Moving with Horses: How To Relocate Your Horse
This is moving week for me. I'm moving my two small children and dog across two states, picking up our belongings from three different locations (one in South Carolina, one in south Georgia, and one in west central Georgia). Meanwhile, my husband will be back in our apartment for the next month and change living on a mattress and...not much else. We really aren't sure who drew the shortest stick this time. Needless to say, this is a stressful week.
That's why I'm posting this blog about a dozen or so hours earlier than usual.
But my relocation got me thinking about how in about a year I may be doing the same thing for a young horse as it travels from California to Georgia to join my family and I. And then I had a mini panic attack when my brain started going through the logistics involved with such a long journey.
For anyone who hasn't relocated a horse, there are several things to worry about. And they all deal with the horse's health. For starters, it's highly recommended that you wrap your equine buddy's legs in decent protection, like the Brushing Boot Neoprene Travel Boots or the Roma Deluxe Horse Shipping Boots. It's also a good idea to have the horse seen by a vet before and after the trip. While on the trip, make sure there is plenty of food and water available.
The big thing to look out for is shipping fever. This is also known as pleuropneumonia, and it can come on when a horse is stressed, dehydrated, and/or is tied with its head too high so as to prevent mucus being cleared. Something that will also prevent shipping fever is walking your horse every few hours if the road home is really long.
After the journey is over, it's time to get your horse accustomed to his or her new home. Herd integration can be stressful. The easiest way to do it is to put horses in adjoining stalls or paddocks. Your horse will find a buddy, and you'll know it because they will talk to each other a lot (sometimes like two teenagers with phones stuck to their ears). This is the buddy system.
Try turning your horse out with his or her buddy after that relationship has been established. It's not ever a good idea to put a new horse into a herd without at least one buddy in it. This can lead to the horse being picked on, bullied, and possibly injured. This is why this system is so valuable in new horses.
Relocating with a horse is stressful, but it doesn't have to be. Just do what I do. After six moves in about a decade, I've learned to just go with the flow. It's like ripping a band aid off; grip it, rip it, and breathe.
Happy trails, all! I'll just be over here unpacking boxes for the rest of my life.