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Introducing Your Horse to His New Home

Introducing your horse to his new home requires time and patience as well as some basic knowledge about horses in general and yours in particular. It is helpful to know as much as you can about the background of the horse, including things like what types of bedding and feed he is accustomed to, to make the transition as easy as possible. Plan to keep your horse separated from any other animals to allow him time to adjust slowly to both his new surroundings and to the others in the herd.

Before introducing your horse to his new home, be sure that home is completely safe and secure. Even a horse that has not demonstrated skittish behaviors in the past could become spooked and try to bolt. Plan to keep your new horse in his own small paddock for the first few days or even weeks, until he is ready to meet the other horses. Be sure that the fence line of the paddock is completely secure, with no loose or broken boards. Likewise, check his stall for any protruding nails, extraneous hardware, and the like.

When introducing your horse to his new home, try to find a quiet place to unload him. Lead him slowly out of the trailer and take him on a brief tour of his new home. Give him time to look around and check things out both by sight and by smell. Offer him some hay and give him a few minutes to adjust to the new locale. Lead him along the perimeter of the paddock so that he becomes aware of the boundaries. After he has had some time to walk around in the paddock, bring him in to his new stall. It is best to use the same type of bedding that your horse was already accustomed to, whenever possible. This will help ease his adjustment to his new stall. Lead him in for a few minutes, then back out again. Repeat this a few times, until he seems to feel comfortable moving into the stall.

Introducing your horse to his new home is stressful enough without also introducing him to a new diet. Find out as much as you can about the types of feed to which he has been accustomed in the past. If you do not plan to continue him on the same diet, there are two common options from which to choose. Option one is to gradually change his food prior to bringing him to his new home. The second option is to gradually make the change once he has adjusted to the new environment. In either case, make any changes slowly and gradually, mixing the old food with progressively larger proportions of the new food.

When you are ready to introduce your new horse to the rest of his herd mates, do so gradually. Start by placing them in adjoining paddocks, so that they can become acquainted over the fence. Wait until the horses are calm and quiet in each other’s presence to put them in a paddock together. If you have several horses in the existing herd, take a friendly horse that is around the middle of the social hierarchy (neither the most dominant nor most submissive, but somewhere in between), and allow them some time together first. Give the horses plenty of time to become acquainted, but never leave your horse unattended with the rest of the herd until you know how they will all react.