Moving stables can be an overwhelming experience, both for the owners and the horses themselves. Horses thrive on routine and familiarity almost as much as we do! I moved stables recently and was surprised by the impact it had so wanted to share some tips and advice with you to make the transition easier.
Horses derive comfort from familiar surroundings, routines, and companionship. Moving stables disrupts their established routines, exposing them to unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells. Moving stables can be challenging for them, however you could consider:
- Familiarity in the New Environment: Keep whatever you can the same in their environment e.g. bedding, feed, rugs to create some sort of familiarity. It is also important to take your time on move day so you can see how your horse is settling. I found hand grazing a nice approach to help my boys settle and take in their surroundings whilst having me close by.
- Maintaining Routine: Keep the same feeding times, exercise routines, and turnout schedules as closely as possible to the previous stable if possible. This consistency will help your horse feel secure and adapt more quickly.
- New pony friends: Introduce your horse to their new equine friends gradually. The presence of friendly companions can significantly reduce anxiety and provide a sense of security. A calm horse in the field/stable next door can definitely help!
- Patience and Reassurance: Be patient with your horse during the transition period. There is a lot to take in so take your time. I didn’t ride for a few days and instead led the horses around the new area, stood with them watching a lesson in the school and did lots of grooming and chatting.
The fear of the unknown (as Elsa says!), unfamiliar surroundings, and meeting new people can be a lot to take in and shouldn’t be underestimated. However, there is a lot that can help:
- Acknowledge Your Feelings: It’s important to recognise that feeling anxious when starting somewhere new is completely normal. Many others have experienced similar feelings during transitions, and it’s absolutely normal to feel a bit uneasy.
- In the know: Hopefully you liked the stables when you chose to move there? But it’s understandable to have feelings of unfamiliarity. Ask lots of questions! Working out where your tack goes, what time horses go in and out, who goes hacking that you may be able to join, what rules the yard owner likes….. ask lots of questions!
- Set Realistic Expectations: Avoid putting undue pressure on yourself to have everything figured out immediately. Recognize that it takes time to adjust and become comfortable in a new environment. Set realistic expectations and be patient with yourself as you find your feet.
- Bonding with the new humans: As tough as it can be (I am the person that is often found talking to the dog at parties!), connecting with the people at the stables will feel a lot better. I was overwhelmed with so many feelings including an overwhelming urge to look good in front of people so I wasn’t judged negatively. I had to call myself on this A LOT!! Just do you. If someone judges you quickly and negatively then they aren’t worth bonding with in the first place!
Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when needed – people often reach out to me for coaching in these periods. But also talking to a trusted friend can help.
Starting somewhere new can be a challenging and anxiety-inducing experience, but it also holds the potential for growth, learning, and new opportunities. Remember, the next chapter may be the best yet!!
What things did you or are you struggling with? Share in the comments below.