Whether you’re a first-time horse owner or a lifelong equestrian, there’s nothing more exciting than bringing home a new horse. You may spend the days leading up to their arrival browsing tack catalogs or coming up with new “show names.” These activities are fun, but there are also some more functional things you should do to prepare for a new horse. Take a look.
Prepare the Stall and Pasture
Horses can get a bit nervous when they first move to a new barn. Prepare their stall and pasture with this in mind. Make sure there are no exposed nails or loose boards in the stall; nervous horses have a habit of finding these hazards! Check that all pasture fencing is secure and that all gates latch completely.
Put a generous amount of bedding down in the stall. This will keep your horse more comfortable if they pace or roll a bit. Invest in a new set of buckets for your new horse. Or, if you are reusing old buckets, scrub and sanitize them to avoid spreading germs.
Talk to the current horse owner, and ask what the horse is currently being fed. Even if you plan on changing the horse over to a different feed, you’ll want to buy a bag or two of their current feed so you can make the transition slowly. Some owners will send a bag or two of feed along when they sell a horse. Ask the old owner if they plan on doing this so you can plan accordingly.
If you buy your own hay, make sure you have enough in storage to feed one more horse. Hay can be hard to find in some regions, so if you’ll need more hay, start shopping early.
Check Vaccination Records
Ask the horse’s current owner for their vaccination records. Make sure they are up-to-date on their rabies, tetanus, EEE, WEE, and influenza vaccines. If the horse is past due for a vaccination, make plans with the current owner and vet to bring them up to date before they travel to your property. Also, make sure all of your other horses are up-to-date on their vaccines so they’re safe from any pathogens the new horse may be carrying.
If you have any reason to believe the horse you’re buying may be ill or has been exposed to infectious diseases, make plans to quarantine them before introducing them to your herd. If you do not have a way to quarantine a horse at your own stable, contact a stable in your area with a quarantine facility. Horses coming from an auction, for example, should be quarantined under a vet’s guidance.
Gather Basic Tack and Equipment
You generally don’t want to buy a saddle or bridle until you have the horse home and can fit them properly. However, you should gather basic tack and equipment prior to your new horse’s arrival. Here are some key items to have on hand:
- A lead rope
- Wraps or boots for shipping
- Brushes and a hoof pick
- Fly spray and a fly mask, if needed
Ask for Help
If you haven’t already done so, tell a few of your horse friends about your new horse. Ask them if they’re willing to be on standby in case you need any help during the transition. Horses can be a bit nervous and hard to handle when they first arrive at a new facility. So, even if you’re an experienced horse owner, it is a good idea to have someone else around when you’re turning your new horse out for the first time, unloading them off the trailer, and so forth.
Inform Your Farrier
If you already have horses, let your farrier know that you’re bringing another one home. You may want to set up a separate farrier appointment for your new horse so your farrier has time to thoroughly look over and evaluate their feet.
If this is your first horse, ask friends for farrier recommendations, and make an appointment with someone reputable. Good farriers book up quickly, and you don’t want your new horse to go without farrier care for more than a few weeks.
Bringing home a new horse is a special experience. Before long, the two of you will form a bond and fall into a comfortable routine. If you need any help or guidance in training your new horse, the training videos from Easy Horse Fix can be a helpful resource. Good luck, and enjoy the ride!