February 20, 2012
Buying a new horse can be an arduous process – there are dozens of considerations to maintain during the selection process, not to mention all the time spent perusing horses for sale. Once you’ve made your choice and have purchased your new horse, the second part of the process begins – introduction of the new horse to your other horse or existing herd.
Whether you are introducing a newly bought horse to your existing herd or are placing one of your horses into a boarding scenario, the desired result should be the safe introduction of the horse into a new environment with other horses. There is no set time to attach to this process; all horses are different in terms of personality, temperament, etc. – it can take time and your goal should be to maintain the safety of each horse, and not how to achieve it as quickly as possible.
Prior to introducing a new horse to your existing herd, it is generally a good idea to ensure that any required medical requirements have been completed first – introducing a horse with an underlying condition or ailment into an established herd will always pose risks to the herd and many additional problems can arise. Rather than deal with quarantine process after the fact, make sure all health issues are noted and dealt with beforehand. When the horse’s physical integrity has been confirmed it is then safe to begin introduction.
When introduction is ready, it is best to keep the new addition in an area where they can see and smell the other horse but cannot establish physical contact yet. Observe the body language and behavior of the new horse with the others – signs of aggressiveness (rapid tail swishing, ears pinned) without any indications of submission are signs that the new horse is not ready for physical contact with the herd yet. In contrast, some owners may choose to simply turn the new horse loose with the herd and simply stand back and observe the results. While this method may work, it is not advisable and poses serious risks to the new horse as well as the herd – take your time and keep the new horse’s best interests in mind at all times.
When the horse is ready, the next phase should be physical contact. This is best done in an area which allows the horses room to move away from one another; they should never feel as though they must defend their food or water from one another. One easy way to introduce physical contact while still maintaining individual space, is by using adjoining stalls. When physical contact has been initiated and the new horse has become familiar with the other horses, it is then time to get the new horse acquainted with the area in which they will be able to run. Take the newcomer out on their own in this area so that they can get accustomed to the lay of the land and any ditches, trees, fences, boundaries, slopes, ruts, etc. Doing this will assist in making the new horse comfortable when it is in the area with the other horses.
When it is time for feeding it is a good idea, at least initially, to make sure the new horse has its own bucket of feed or hay (placed away from the common feeding area) and that it eats enough and is not nervous of the others. Sometimes it is necessary to separate the horses (even the ones that are familiar with one another) when feeding them. In this instance, it is still a good idea to establish a separate area for the newcomer.
You know your horses better than anyone, so you’ll be able to understand any behavioral issues by observation – aggression, submission, posture, respect, yielding, etc. – introducing a new horse will allow you to maintain and hone your knowledge and viewing skills while enabling safe introduction of your new horse.
Posted by admin @ 8:25 pm