Why is this even important? I have had horses before, I know what to do!
Welcome everyone! First of all, how cool is it to adopt a horse from a rescue? Looking to rescues when you want to own a horse is such a tremendous gift to that horse, and the next horse that can come in because there is a spot open! Theres a lot more to it then you might think though! Through the adoption process we do talk extensively about the horses and their backgrounds and what would suit them – both physically and mentally. It’s really good not to just listen to this, but HEAR this.
Horses coming into our facility from private owners, or coming back from adopters are often with people who consider themselves experienced. But time and time again, we see people who have had horses for years, trained and competed, and cared for or worked in professional barns, struggling with their new horse. On the horses part could it have something to do with change of place, change of feed and hay, change in turn out, change of horse friends (or no horse friends) change in handling, change in stabling – or maybe all of the above? Well then YES!
And what about the new owner, could it have something to do with them? YES! This too! It’s a package deal, for both you and the horse. But the owner is the only one that can make decisions, make choices, the horse has no option other than to react to a situation. How they react, shows you if you have made the right choices, or maybe need to reconsider a few things.
So if it’s hard for those that have had some formal training, how about those who have not? Those that had horses as kids and remember fondly galloping thru fields, maybe bareback, long days spent w the horse and that special bond. But being a kid and riding a horse, is really different than bringing up a young horse. Knowing how to formulate a diet that is appropriate for the horses breed, age, and work load. Knowing how to spot and treat an abscess, knowing how to have boundaries w your horse, ensuring they have good manners that maybe were not so important as a kid. Understanding you don’t bounce like you used to. The fact that we did something, 10, 15, or 20 years ago doesn’t mean we can do it now, at least not well. But if you have an OPEN MIND and are willing to learn and see that is part of the horsemanship experience it’s really a pleasure.
What exactly does that mean?
Quote from Milestone Equestrian FB page
“Horses are very much an “exotic” type pet, not like a dog or a cat, and require a lot of experience to properly manage and care for, or at least a lot of monetary output to pay someone with experience to do this for you. I’ve been around horses 20+ years and still don’t know everything, and the amount of education the general public lacks on horses is huge. There are so many common misconceptions about horse care that don’t happen to the same extent with more popular pets such as dogs or cats. I wish it was more mainstream for proper care of horses to be discussed along with their behaviours and how to read them. Anyone whose experience with horses stems from mostly watching movies or seeing them in passing is missing out on so much about them.”
We offer all kinds of support to adopters, but what if they never ask? Being able to ask for help is really important for life in general. When you are responsible for a horse, and you notice a behavior change, a loss of weight, change under saddle, its important to figure out what is going on quick. The most common issue we see is folks waiting too long, letting a behavior or medical issue fester, and something small becomes a major problem. Then the horse is turned into a rescue, or if adopted, returned to the rescue w a host of problems.
WAYS TO HELP YOUR HORSE TRANSITION
DIET– Keep your new horse on a diet as close as possible to what they had here. Changes in feed or hay along w stress of a new environment can lead to colic. Especially a change in water, they may not. like the taste, its important to monitor water intake, make sure he is eating and pooping and peeing properly. Keep an eye especially that first week. That doesn’t mean you can’t make changes to their diet , but keep him consistent for a while, make changes gradually, if you change something up and you are seeing it’s not working, change it back.
STABLING – often our horses are out 24/7 w a few hours of stall time a day for vet, farrier, or just to be under a fan. Horses do better when they are turned out, w a group and have free choice access to quality hay. If you keep your horse primarily stalled, you will end up a a horse different than the one you adopted. We require that all adopters keep horses out at least 12 hours or more a day unless there is a medical reason that precludes this.
Ground work– start going for walks, doing some groundwork, simple lunging sessions, work on bending, backing, going over poles, its important to start to work on your partnership and keep their mind busy with activity! Desensitize them using tarps, flags, wands, anything that helps them learn that its ok to see new objects, but they are absolutely safe with you! This often sparks their curiosity, and helps them gain confidence. Boundaries are so important, we can’t emphasize this enough.
RIDING– Start slow. Your first ride should not be out on trail galloping thru the forest. Get to know them at home. Be sure that they stand for mounting, that they walk off only once you have asked for that, that they have a great whoa. Be subtle with your cues, have light hands, be a balanced rider, give praise. Be kind.
ISSUES – Behavior or medical, please reach out so we can help! Most of the horses, because they come w injuries are with us a long time. We know them well and know their past histories, we can help or find you someone that can!
Getting your horse off property, desensitization exercises and healthy boundaries!