I have a new horse! What do I need to do?
I’ll never forget the first few months of owning my very own horse. Despite having worked, ridden, and been around horses for over TWO DECADES… we still managed to rack up vet bills, fall off, and learn some valuable lessons in how to be prepared. NOTE: The lessons in how to be prepared happened because I was most definitely not prepared, in any way, shape, or form. It was all worth it… because over time I was able to learn enough to fill this website with all sorts of useful (and sometimes not useful) information.
So for the new horse owners out there, here’s a list of things to gather before you bring your new horse home. Many of these items require some shopping - so remember that old saying about construction - it will likely take twice as long and cost twice as much. Pad your budget well!
PEOPLE TO LINE UP BEFORE YOUR NEW BUDDY ARRIVES:
- Where is your horse going to live? So many factors are involved here, and so many questions to ask potential boarding barns. If you need to look for a boarding barn, this article has a few questions to start asking.
- Finding your horse a new home goes hand in hand with finding the right trainer and/or barn manager. I have heard it said that it can take months or even a year to really feel like you know your horse. Having a good team to help you learn about your horse’s habits, dislikes, and spook triggers will help you a great deal - especially if you can’t spend 12 hours a day at the barn. I still love to hear stories from the barn peeps telling me that “Migs did this…or did that….”.
Find a Veterinarian you like and then get all of the deets about how they operate!
- Who is his Veterinarian? Set up an account and learn office hours, who to call after hours, payment policies, etc. before you need the Vet. You might also be able to have your new horse’s records transferred over from his previous owner.
- Who is your new horse’s Farrier? New horse lesson #1 - Murphy’s law applies to everything - including removing shoes that were put on the day before you picked him up.
- Insurance Agent! Insurance is definitely an option and in many cases a very wise one. A few Vet bills without insurance will give you an idea of how helpful it can be.
Shopping for grooming supplies is probably my favorite thing to do!
INFORMATION TO LINE UP BEFORE MR. UNICORN COMES HOME:
- His medical history. You may (or may not) have been given his medical history upon purchase, but at the very least you need some valuable information such as his most recent:
- Vaccines - which vaccines and when they were given!
- Fecal Egg Count - results and any deworming medications and when they were dosed.
- Last farrier visit - know when he’s due again and how many weeks (typically) in between visits.
- Last doses of medications/supportive care - many horses receive joint injections or regular injections of joint support meds - when is your horse due again?
- Membership numbers. If Mr. Fancy Pants is your new show horse, time to start registering him (or moving registration) to your show organizations of choice. Nothing like showing up to the first show without all of your numbers!
- His eating routine. Chances are that his new barn and his previous barn are not going to feed on the exact same schedule, or have the exact same feed. Knowing the old routine can help you transition into the new one. You may find that the new barn is willing to create a smooth transition for him!
- His exercise and turn out routine. Many, many horses have a routine, some horses seem to know exactly what time it is, and how many minutes you are early or late! Other horses are more adaptable, perhaps because they live on the road from show to show. Either way, having a general idea of your horse’s typical day will help him be comfortable with his new surroundings and people.
THINGS TO SPEND ALL OF YOUR CURRENT AND FUTURE MONEY ON:
- Basic Grooming supplies. Must haves include grooming gloves, soft and hard brushes, a very tough hoof pick, mane and tail brush. Bonus items include some mild shampoo, detangler, a cactus cloth, and perhaps some spot remover or shine maker. List of items to collect can be found here!
- Basic Vet Kit supplies. While not used as often (hopefully) as grooming kit stuff, perhaps more important. You can’t go wrong with a thermometer, stethoscope, wound cleaners, diapers or maxi pads, elastic medical tape, and wound ointment. You can fill in some of the other items as you can, but these will get you thorough daily TPR checks and help you with nicks, cuts, etc. Work on completing your Vet Kit over time. (For ideas on what you need, read this.)
A must for every horse owner!
- Start to build your new horse’s blanket collection by just purchasing what he needs now or a few weeks from now. Fly sheets, scrim sheets, cotton sheets, rain sheet for spring and summer. Rain sheet, light blanket, medium blanket, heavy blanket (depending on your distance from the equator) for fall and winter. Fly masks for year round! For shopping tips, read this.
- Tack - saddle and bridle and all of that stuff! If you are lucky enough to have some of his existing tack included in the purchase, you are well on your way to allowing him to be comfortable (hopefully) as this stuff should fit him! I encourage you to find an independent saddle fitter to help you find the perfect new or used saddle for your new horse. Many saddle fitters work with all brands and all styles.
- Saddle pads. I’m of the theory that saddle pads are just as tricky to fit as saddles - so you may find yourself buying a few styles until the right one appears. Contoured towlines are a must, and you will need to find the one that has the gullet strap in just the right place. You may also find that your favorite purple sparkling saddle pad doesn’t work with your new saddle, so here’s an opportunity to find another style and color that does work. For more on saddle pads, this article is for you.
- Leg protection. No leg, no horse. Before you even load him up to come home - he gets a new set of shipping boots or standing wraps with bell boots! You only have to see a horse shred his entire lower leg sliding off the side of a ramp once before you are convinced that shipping protection is needed.
This is where we live now? AWESOME!
What other things do you need to have before your Mr. Dreamy comes home?