Managing Your Horse at a New Facility: Transitioning and Feeding Tips

Moving your horse to a new facility can be an exciting but challenging experience for both you and your horses. Whether it's a new boarding stable, a change of residence, or a temporary location for training or competition, transitioning to a new environment requires careful planning and consideration. One of the most critical aspects of managing your horse at a new facility is the transition of their feed. There are key things horse owners should be aware of when moving their horse to a new location.

Things to Consider When Moving to a New Facility

Before moving your horse to a new facility, it's essential to conduct a thorough assessment of the location. The facility should be able to accommodate your intended purpose for you and your horse. However, there are other factors to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for your horse:

  • Safety and Security. Ensure that the facility is well-maintained, with safe fencing, properly built stalls, and secure access to prevent injuries or escape.
  • Pasture and Turnout. Assess the quality of pastures, paddocks, and turnout options. Ensure they provide adequate space for exercise and grazing.
  • Feeding and Watering Facilities. Check for clean, well-maintained water sources, hay storage, and feeding areas. Ensure the facility follows proper feeding schedules and guidelines.
  • Staff Expertise. Evaluate the competence of the facility's staff, particularly in handling and caring for horses. Communication with staff is vital to ensure your horse's needs are met.
  • Other Boarders. Interact with other horse owners at the facility to gain insights into their experiences and the general atmosphere of the place.

Again, be sure the facility is fit for your intended use. It might also be advisable to speak with other boarders or find reviews online. They can help you decide if the new facility is right for you.

How Should I Transition My Horse’s Feed?

Transitioning your horse's feed when moving to a new facility is a crucial process that should be executed with care. Sudden changes in diet can lead to digestive upset and discomfort. Thus, it is critical to remember that any changes to a horse’s diet should be slow and deliberate.

If you are transitioning your horse to a new diet, its is very worthwhile to review our Safely Transitioning Your Horse’s Diet article. Briefly, here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition:

  • Maintain Consistency. Whenever possible, maintain consistency in your horse's feed. Continue using the same brand and type of hay and grain your horse is accustomed to.
  • Gradual Changes. If you need to switch to a different feed or hay type due to availability or quality, make the transition gradually. Start by mixing the new feed with the old one, increasing the ratio of the new feed over a period of at least two weeks.
  • Monitor Behavior. Keep a close eye on your horse's behavior, appetite, and manure during the transition. Any sudden changes could indicate digestive issues, such as colic.
  • Hydration. Ensure your horse always has access to clean water. Proper hydration is crucial, especially during feed transitions. If using automatic waterers, ensure they are operating correctly.
  • Consult with an expert. If your horse has specific dietary requirements or health concerns, consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to develop a tailored feeding plan.

How To Safely Transition Your Horse with New Turnout Time and Exercise Routines

Other aspects that can change for your horse are when or where they are turned out and if they begin a new training regime. This means at a new facility, your horse's turnout and exercise routine may differ from what they were accustomed to. Thus, here are some tips for ensuring a smooth transition:

  • Gradual Adjustment. If your horse is used to a specific turnout schedule or intensity of exercise, try to adjust to the new facility's routine gradually to prevent stress.
  • Social Interaction. Assess the social dynamics in the new turnout environment. If your horse is used to specific turnout buddies, introduce them slowly to new companions to avoid potential conflicts.
  • Monitoring Health. Pay close attention to your horse's physical condition, particularly their hooves and body. Different footing and terrain may impact your horse's health.
  • Routine Exercise. If the new facility offers riding areas or trails, explore them with your horse. Introducing variety in your horse's exercise routine can be stimulating and enjoyable.

Give Horses Time to Adjust to New Stalls or Shelters

Another consideration is a sudden change in your horse’s personal space and environment. If your horse will be housed in a different type of stall or shelter, consider the following:

  • Stall Size and Ventilation. Ensure that the new stall provides adequate space for your horse to move comfortably. Proper ventilation is essential for their respiratory health.
  • Bedding Material. Familiarize yourself with the type of bedding used at the new facility. Some horses may have preferences, so be prepared to adjust.
  • Stress Reduction. Some horses may experience stress when transitioning to a new stall. To help them adjust, bring familiar items like stall toys.
  • Cleanliness. Maintain a clean environment by regularly mucking out the stall and providing fresh bedding.

Should I be Concerned with My Horse’s Social Interaction and Mental Well-Being?

Another aspect of transitioning to a new facility that induces anxiety in both horses and their owners is new social interactions with other horses. Because horses are social animals, their mental well-being is essential. Here are some tips to support your horse's emotional health at the new facility:

  • Socialization. Encourage interaction with other horses, whether in the pasture or over the fence. Socialization helps reduce stress and prevents feelings of isolation.
  • Mental Stimulation. Keep your horse mentally engaged with toys, turn out time, or ensuring they are receiving adequate exercise.
  • Consistent Handling. Consistency in your handling and care routines can provide comfort and security to your horse in a new environment.
  • Monitor behavior. Like the above, only you know your horse best. Watch their behavior and monitor for any abnormalities or stereotypies.

Take Home Message

Managing your horse at a new facility can be a rewarding experience with proper planning and attention to detail. The overriding goal should be to reduce your horse’s stress to ensure they stay healthy and happy. When it comes to transitioning your horse's feed, remember to proceed gradually and consult with professionals when necessary. Additionally, ensure the new facility meets your horse's safety and comfort needs, and adjust as needed. Help them adapt to their new surroundings. A successful transition will ultimately result in a content and healthy horse, ready to thrive in their new home.


Article By: Chris Mortensen, Ph.D.
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