Cross Country Adventures - The Saga of Moving Two Horses 3000 miles. (OH DEAR)
Many of you know that I lived in CA for a long, long time. Land of perfect weather, movie stars, and Olympians galore. (Cue the melodramatic music…) Several months ago I learned that my family and I would be moving to VA - This is a long, long way away. Because I am who I am (a neurotic planner, a worry wart, a list maker, a duck liner-upper) I started planning this move long ago.
So my ultimate plan was to divide the move up into manageable stages - deal with our home in CA, find a place to live in VA, and then move the horses, cats, and husband all the way across. Surprisingly, it went *almost* totally as planned. Because I had several back up plans in place, too - well, you get it.
Who doesn't love paperwork when they could be researching new yoga studios and restuarants and fun things to do around their new address?
First things first - what did I need to do for the horses NOW so that the transition to VA would be easy? Here’s a partial list of what I needed to do and figure out:
- Vaccinations for the landing destination. What types, how many doses, how many weeks apart, how many weeks needed before they get to VA? For me, this was the Potomac Horse Fever vaccine.
- The timing of the Coggins tests and Health Certificates for travel.
- Farriers and Vets in the new area. This is where I asked my horse friends that already live in VA what’s what and who's who!
- A barn in the new neighborhood. Luckily, I have loads of VA horse friends and happily landed at Sprieser Sporthorse in Northern VA. Seamless.
- A feed store. For Migs, my “special diet” horse that can only eat hay pellets, I needed to find a source for his food. Turns out, no one sold his type of hay as a pellet on the east coast, so I needed to switch him to a new type that I could find in VA. My ample planning time allowed me to make the switch over several weeks. Same goes for hay - I needed to make a plan to transition the “normal diet” horse to a new hay.
- Living conditions. Not many places are similar to CA for horses, and not many places resemble VA either. I was moving them from huge dry lot paddocks 24/7 to lush grass part of the time and a stall the rest of the time. I was also moving from no bugs and no wildlife, to loads of bugs and loads of wildlife. There’s also no humidity in CA, versus 1980’s perm like humidity. Did I need some sort of plan to transition them to this new lifestyle? Yes and no… more on that later.
- A tack shop. While this is not a necessity, it’s nice to get the feel for your tack shop options before you go!
- The additional stress of travel. A multiple day trip, overnighting at several barns, airline rides, and trips in strange trailers at all hours of the day is stressful. Additional dietary support with a probiotic (Grand Digest) and some ulcer medication before, during, and just after the trip.
So I had to figure out how to move the horse boys across. A few options - don’t move them, hire a van to drive, fly, drive them myself. I eventually chose to fly them for a few reasons - they are older and a long drive across the US in the heat would be very hard on them. I could have hired a van, but Migs is a senior and can’t eat any hay - could I part with them for a week or more and trust that he would be given his special bucket and meds three times a day? I hoped so - but I wasn’t willing to risk it. And - a van ride is LONG. And HOT.
So I booked a flight on “Air Horse One” that would put the horses and me in Lexington, KY. I started the long process of figuring out what I needed to pack to stay with the horses, what could go with the movers, and what my family would drive across, ensuring that any delays by the movers wouldn’t be a problem. In a nutshell - winter stuff and duplicates of stuff I had went with the movers. (Yes duplicates. Can you ever have too many grooming supplies??)
I was all smiles when Air Horse One told me to be at the airport by 3am. (Actually true - this meant that I could have all day when we landed to monitor them for signs of travel stress.)
What stayed with me to fly were special meds and supplements, Miggy’s special hay pellets, and the basics of tack. Saddle, bridle, one set of boots, one saddle pad, etc. The bare minimum. With the family I send extra Miggy food and meds and supplements, some extra tack stuff, feed bins, just a step above the minimum. The horse husband was driving the truck and trailer so the tack room was loaded with some horse stuff and some household goods, and also a flake of “CA hay” so that when we arrived I could switch the hay eating fool over to “VA hay”.
I loaded all of my essentials for the flight into two rolling trunks designed for construction site tools. (My favorite type of tack trunk - they have a great handle and wheels!!) One was super heavy as it contained 100 lbs of hay pellets, plus other stuff. Just to be on the safe side and have some cushion in case we got stranded somewhere. The other was tack, vet kit, miscellaneous items. I also had two giant hay nets stuffed with CA hay for the plane ride day.
Rolling trunks are the best! Makes easy work of heavy stuff.
So - it’s now moving day for the horses! Hubby and rig went one week ahead of me to have a leisurely drive from Cali to Texas to Virginia. Our original plan was to hire a shipper to do the drive from KY to VA for me and the horses- but that was going to be more dollars and no guaranteed date - only a week’s window!! One shipper also told me that I had to ride in the back of the rig with the horses - no seats up front. So we just adjusted the hubby’s trajectory to all meet in Lexington, KY.
And then the adventure REALLY began!! The scoop on flying the two goobers across the country can be found here!