Sally’s guide to preparing for the arrival of a new horse
Buying a new horse is both scary and exciting. You will no doubt been to see quite a few and some were probably very different to what you expected.
Having made your decision, you will need to make the necessary preparations for its arrival. If you are keeping your horse at livery it will be a simple matter of making arrangements with the yard according to their guidelines. They will be able to advise you accordingly. Should you be bringing your new horse to your own premises, there is lots of planning to do. Begin by checking with the current owner how the horse has been looked after to date.
Here are some questions you could ask:-
- Does the horse live in or out? (In other words, is it stabled or does it stay in a paddock)
- If the horse is stabled, is this full-time or part-time? If part-time, is it turned out during the day or at night? What bedding do you use?
- If the horse lives out, does this apply in the winter months also? Should circumstances require the horse to be stabled (if it were unwell etc), is it relaxed in a stable?
- Are there any health issues or allergies to be aware of?
- What do you currently feed? Do you steam or soak the hay?
- Is the horse shod and if so, how often?
- Would you describe the horse as dominant or subservient?
- How comfortable is the horse travelling in a trailer/lorry? Does it load easily and travel quietly?
- Do you rug the horse in the winter?
- Is it necessary to restrict grazing in the Spring?
- Does the horse respect electric fencing?
- Can the horse stay on its own or does it need constant company? (Some horses get very distressed if they don’t have a companion or if their companion is taken for a ride leaving them alone)
- How is the horse with clippers?
- When did you last do a worm-count? (This involves sending a dung sample off for a lab test)
- Are the vaccinations up to date? Every horse is legally required to hold a passport. Vaccinations should be entered in this document. You take ownership of the passport when you buy the horse.
Having understood the requirements of your new horse, you can put everything in place ready for his/her arrival
If you are introducing the horse to an existing animal or herd, care needs to be taken to avoid fights and potential injuries. Horses can be territorial and are vicious when protecting either their field or their herd members.
Assuming you plan to integrate your new animal with your other horse/horses in the same field, the situation needs to be managed carefully.
Should you have two fields side-by-side, separated by strong fencing, you could consider turning your new horse into the adjoining paddock. This way the horses can ‘meet’ and ‘talk to each other’ over the fence but the chances of injury are minimised.
Ensure there is no barbed wire or sheep fencing etc. in which hooves could get stuck should they paw or kick the fencing. To start with there is likely to be much galloping up and down the fence line and probably some shows of aggression by the dominant horse.
Hopefully, over the course of 7-10 days, the animals should settle down and start to ignore one another.
When you judge it safe to introduce them into the same paddock, it might work best to introduce the more dominant horse/s into the paddock of the less dominant animal, rather than the other way around.
Certainly, to start with, try to avoid feeding the horses near each other. If necessary, remove the new horse from the paddock and feed separately as this can be a common cause of ‘punch-ups’.
If you are feeding hay, ensure there are plentiful piles or haynets spread well apart to avoid issues. If you have 3 horses, try to put out 5 piles of hay.
With careful handling, your new horse should settle in happily and become a well-integrated member of your herd or a good companion to an existing horse/pony.