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Adjusting to a New Barn

16 August 2011 No Comment

Adjusting to a New Barn
Laura Phelps-Bell has over 25 years experience in the equine industry as a trainer and instructor. Her background includes successfully competing in dressage, on the “A” Open circuit in hunter/jumpers, showing in many western events, management of several large training/boarding facilities and teaching equine management courses at the college level. More about Laura

I am moving my new horse to a new really big barn. I am wondering how long it usually takes horses to adjust to new environments? My pony is nine.
Thank you. Krisitna Shafer
Hi Kristina, I usually allow horses at least a week or two to settle in at a new facility. Many very seasoned show horses, or horses used to traveling quite a bit, can adjust to new surroundings and stabling conditions in a very short period of time. It can be just a matter of a few hours with some horses, but I try to be understanding of the situation and realize that when there are changes made, the horse or pony may be feeling insecure, nervous, anxious or scared. They need time to focus on acclimating to their new surroundings. I make it a point to spend as much time as possible with the horse when I move them someplace new and offer them security in the form of just hanging-out with them, taking them out for hand-walks around their new home, turning them out in the arena, etc. If the horse or pony is not used to being moved, then I don’t place much focus on training for at least a week, sometimes two. If they are feeling displaced, they may have a hard time focusing on actual training and trying to train may cause agitation and combative behavior between you and your pony.

My advice is to forget about any heavy-duty training for at least a week, spend as much “quality time” as you can up at the barn with your pony and when you do begin riding, work back into it slowly and patiently. The key here is to keep your pony feeling as relaxed, calm and secure as possible because since its a new facility that she is living in, you are the only familiar thing that she has to hang on to. Set an example for her by being relaxed and calm yourself and don’t ask too much, too soon, and your pony will settle in to her new surroundings just fine.

Good Luck!

Laura Phelps-Bell

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