First Time Owner: Settling in? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2016
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Question First Time Owner: Settling in?

Hi all, first time posting. My first horse will be arriving in a couple of weeks so I've been spending all my time preparing for his arrival. I've got all my supplies, feed, vet and farrier lined up but now I'm looking for advice on how to get him settled into his new home.

For example, what should I do with him or for him the first 10 minutes after he arrives? Put him in a pasture? put him in his stall? What about the first 24 hours? are things I should be doing to help him adjust. What about the first week?

My eventual plans is to get him back into training as he's been a couple months without work. He's a 6yr old gelding he's been trained to ride, drive, and dressage but dressage will be our primary focus from here out. I will be working with a professional trainer for this but how soon after he arrives should I re start his training.

Thanks in advance for all your wonderful advice and happy to finally be a participating memeber of this lovely forum.
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post #2 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 01:04 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Southern Indiana
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Welcome to the forum!

I always lead them around the fence line when I bring a new horse home. Corral fence line not the entire pasture since they're usually in quarantine at first. I'll show them where their water and salt is, maybe lead them in and out of the barn a few times and just give them time to look things over and settle down a bit. Then I'll throw them some hay and watch whether they're settled enough to eat and if they are leave them alone for an hour or two. It's been a long, long time since I've bought a riding horse but when I did I usually saddled up and rode later that day or at the most the next day. Don't want them getting spoiled and thinking they're on a permanent vacation.

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post #3 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 01:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Congrats on the new horse, you'll have to indulge us with pictures once you've got everything sorted out!

I bought mine about 6 weeks ago. When I brought him home, I mostly gave him his space for the first day. I put him in his stall, threw him some hay for him to munch on, and let him chill. The next morning I took him out and walked him around his turnout to show him the lay of the land (especially since I wasn't sure about his history with electric fencing, it turned out okay). I rode him later that afternoon (only for thirty minutes or so). The first few rides I hand walked him around the arena before I got on. After that we went straight to my normal riding routine (riding for an hour or so every day, lessons twice a week) and I let him just go with the flow. It took him a couple of weeks to be okay being left alone in the cross ties, but then he settled right in and now he's a champ.

My horse was also without work for a few months before I got him. I eased him into things (lighter work at first, shorter duration, etc.). If your horse is like mine, the change in work load will be the biggest thing for him to adjust to. Mine has had a nervous stomach for the past six weeks (combo of change of food/environment and a training schedule that's gotten pretty intense at this point), so if you encounter anything like that just make sure you keep him hydrated.

Personally, I got my horse mid-September, started taking lessons on him right away, and popped him into training at the beginning of October (after he'd adjusted to the activity at my stable for a couple of weeks, since he was coming from a tiny farm to a huge boarding barn and things were somewhat scary for him at first).

MY BIGGEST ADVICE: be patient! Don't expect to have the same horse you originally went out to see as soon as you get him home. Mine was probably about a 1 on the Dream Horse temperament scale when I first went to see him, about a 4 or a 5 when I brought him home, and has settled back into a 2 or so. On top of that, if you're like me you'll want to take some time periodically to remind yourself that it's okay to not feel a really strong bond right away and that love grows over time (it was hard for me to transition away from my lease pony :( ). Remember that it's not all about the training and that it's okay to take days where you take your new horse out and just enjoy his company!

Good luck, can't wait to hear how it goes!
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post #4 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 02:18 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2016
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Thanks for the advice so far!

It's good to know I shouldn't have to wait long before he can start working again. I think I will give him the day to chill and take him on a tour of the barn.

Also thanks for the heads up StephaniHren that he may be a bit different then when he first arrives. We had an instant connection when I met and rode him a few weeks, even his current owner was shocked at how quickly we bonded so it's good to be prepared that it may not be quite the same right away.
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post #5 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 08:21 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Northern Florida
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I would say just do what you would normally do. Expect delays as he may act out from being unfamiliar. All three of my horses took a little bit to settle down with the strange place, strange people and strange horses. They were in quarantine for three weeks. After that I put one horse in with them for a buddy for a week and then turned them out with the rest of the herd.

I have moved my girls a few times since then and they settled in right away so I think if they have something familiar they are ok but when they have nothing that they are used to it's different. Make sure to get his feed that he is used to and transition him to what you want over a couple of weeks if it's different feed.

I would just go for leisurely rides for the first week or two before any intense training so you both can get the feel for each other and he can get the feel of the place where he is living.
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post #6 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: SC
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What the other's said. My guys just moved with us from TN to SC and although lunging my red head in the paddock was just fine, he became a Pendragon when I took him on a walk about of the farm. :) New things can be scary so just give him some time. Personally, I would continue light work with him if possible. Mine have moved several times and they go right back to work ASAP. Same story guys, different scene. Good luck and welcome to horse ownership! :)
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post #7 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 10:40 AM
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Congrats on the horse!

I agree with what everyone else said- my tip of advice- remember, your new guy, is his own horse with his own personality. When riding, he may ride different than your other horses that you rode. I am saying this because I made that mistake with Zoe, and it just lead to both myself and the horse getting frustrated. Yes, I had to take a step back and relearn how to turn a horse...LOL. Zoe operates much different than Magic, the horse I leased before buying my own, but now that I realized that- she is so much more sensitive and responsive than any other horse I rode. Remember to listen to your new guy :)

It took my horse a little longer to settle. She started very ancy and was even kicky. My horse wa sa rescue horse- so I didn't know at first if it was bad behavior or if she was mistreated. I think she just has poor impulse control. Be patient with your new horse, be understanding, BUT if he does something dangerous/bad behavior ( My horse would do little kicks if I got her her hind end), he needs to be corrected. I didn't correct the best way in the beginning, so Zoe kept it up.

I started out with a lot of grooming and hand walking. I did it slow and steady. I am sure some other people here would have gone a little faster and be further along with Zoe than I, but it is ok to move at your own pace. Its good to build your confidence and the horses, but only go as fast as you and your horse is comfortable with. I had lost my confidence a bit with Zoe because I was expecting too much ( accidentally, I didn't realize I was doing it), but once I took that step back, listened to the horse better and rebuilt my confidence, things clicked so much better.

Congrats once again! It sure is exciting getting your first horse!!
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post #8 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 10:50 AM
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Location: Palmyra, NJ
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Don't forget, we'll need to see some pictures of him when he arrives!
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post #9 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 11:21 AM
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Location: Western Massachusetts
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I hope he will be living with other horses.

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post #10 of 19 Old 10-24-2016, 11:33 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2016
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DISCLAIMER: I have only owned horses for a year. I have, however, grown up around them, but my personal experience as an owner, such that is is, is only a year's worth, so take this for what its worth. Additionally, we ride western, use roping saddles (its a buyers market for really good used roping saddles btw) but we are more trail rider type people. Rodeos are just not our gig.

A. Horses are like toddlers... that learn 8xs faster than an average human. Just like when you become a new parent, suddenly everyone you know that already has or horse or has owned a horse, is an expert, you are doing it all wrong, and they will tell you all manner of nonsense without knowing your horse. Some will tell you to be the aggressive/dominant human, MAKE them respect you (aka beat the tar out of them when they act up) others will tell you just the opposite, and you'll get run roughshod over by your horse. THOSE SAME EXPERTS will rarely ever come help you in person. They are always much too busy.

Just think of that horse like they're a 1000 lb 4 or 5 year old child. Be the grown up. Love them but be the adult. Don't be afraid to tell your horse no. (recent example, my 19 year old daughter LET her smaller, heavier, shorter legged, older mare Nope try to keep up with Gina, our long legged 4yr quarter horse with heavy Thoroughbred breeding in a lope for almost a full mile. On a humid, sunny day. Nope has her winter coat in, plus had a sweat pad and a new fleece lined saddle pad on. She overheated. When I chewed my daughter out she said: Well? She WANTED to do it. Me: Well. Yeah. You &$*% near killed her. YOU wanted to play in the street when you were 4. I told you no. You have to be the grown up and say no. You have to know her limits.)

B. Get to know your horse. Their language is different than a dog or a cat's (predators both) YOU are a predator. They have spent thousands of years thinking ALL TEH THINGS want to eat them. I learned early its not like having a dog or cat - a stare down eye to eye only makes them nervous... that's what predators do before pouncing. Things like slapping them on the neck when you ride them to tell them Good Job can sometimes spook them... try scratching and an easy pat instead (some don't mind, but I have one though that will do anything in the world for you... so long as you do nothing that can be interpreted as a predatory motion. He's a nervous wreck but loving and willing. He is what he is.)

C. All horses are different. Someone already mentioned that. And its not just their personality. Some may have a rough trot, and a slow lope that's smooth as glass. Others may have a weird in between gait that looks fabulous but feels like your spine is going into your brain. Each one feels different, rides different. Reacts differently, has their own 'scratchy' spot. Their own HUH UH! NOT GONNA! moments. One of mine loves Skittles, one adores celery, others will fight you for an apple (Not really, but boy do they perk up if you have one). All of them seem to love a little bit of strawberry Twizzlers and a little 7up soda.

D. Learn to listen to them. They tell you when they're scared, tired, impatient, aggravated, feeling lazy, etc. Spend a lot of time with your horse to get to know what his/her body language means.

E. Google, Google, Google. You have the answers to the known universe available on your smart phone. Don't hesitate to google something, but then, double check with other sites. Read all you can when you have a question.

Now, personally, when we've gotten new horses home, I prefer to untrailer them, lead them to the tie up areas by our tack room, let them calm down and get familiar with me. I offer them feed, water, talk soothingly, groom them if they're calm enough. A younger horse, like a colt that's scared to death? We just turn them out in the small pasture with our 9 month old filly and our shy paint horse. No one feels threatened or pressured that way. Older horses, after we've been introduced over by the tack room, I put them out with weanling and the paint. Everyone gets along that way, then I gradually introduce the older horse to our other older horses. Then if I see a problem, like getting whupped off their feed, I move every one around until we find a good pasture match. I have no idea if that's the right way to do it, but it seems to keep the peace and everyone getting along and getting fed.

One other thing I've learned to ask: What bit has this horse been ridden in most? Its a massive PITA (and can be expensive) to have no way to find out, no idea, and to have to try to find out by trial and error. It can also cause your horse to act a fool if they hate a certain type of bit, and that can get you hurt. Its gotten two of ours in the dangerous habit of rearing up in an attempt to get away from the bit. Its taken a LOT of work to get them back out of the habit. SNAFFLE BITS! D RING SNAFFLES FOR EVERYONE!

I'm learning to speak horse in a crash course, and this is based entirely on what I've learned in a year through trial and sometimes very bad error. This was much longer than I intended, and every bit of it may be utter rubbish. I hope it helps but I acknowledge it may not be helpful at all.
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Last edited by AtokaGhosthorse; 10-24-2016 at 11:39 AM.
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