Friday

Can a barn change boost the horse-human relationship?




Sometimes things really do work out for the best, even when they seem to start out a little rocky.

We just spent several super years in a wonderful equestrian community of horses and humans. The facility was beautiful and well-managed. The clientele was pleasant and fun. And the barn offered on-site horse shows and training clinics, in which we happily participated. We made lots of fine friends and merry memories.

Moving to a new barn means leaving the familiar herd.

It was all good.

Overnight, our horsey world turned upside-down. The barn owners sent an email to all of the boarders, announcing that the facility would be offered for sale immediately and that they would be closing their business within a few months.

With winter just over the horizon, dozens of horse owners began searching for stalls in other barns. We asked around in our horsey network of friends and contacts. We visited lots of equestrian facilities.

Stepping into new stables can be a horse-human adventure.
We packed up the ponies and moved.

Fairly quickly, we were able to find a suitable and reasonably affordable spot for our own herd. We acted promptly, as stables with indoor arenas tend to fill fairly fast in this region in the fall.

Heck, we had four horses to place.

Although we already miss many friends from the old barn, we are happy to report that our horses are settling in nicely in their new home. We are making lots of new horse-world friends and reuniting with some long-time pals as well.

We are even saving a few hundred dollars a month, while enjoying excellent horse care and fine facilities.

But here’s the best part.
LAN photo by L. Davis. Used by permission.

I am re-discovering the preciousness of the horse-human bond, which seems only to be enhanced by settling in together in unfamiliar surroundings.

As horse owners, we know that our equine companions look to us for their care and advocacy. When we move them to new, unknown spots, they depend on us more than ever for consistency and assurance.

My young sport horse mare and older Thoroughbred gelding (along with my daughter’s Morgan mare and Quarter Horse gelding) had to leave the herds they knew. They were loaded onto trailers, carted several miles away, and led off into strange stalls and pastures. Horses they’d never seen gaped at them.

I don’t want to personify my equines, but I could swear each of my horses gave me the same look, as if to ask:

Where are we?
Will I be fed and watered in this strange place?
Will you still spend time with me?
How will my life change?
Is everything gonna be OK?

Within a few days, after experiencing their new care, turnout, grooming, and schooling routines, our horses quickly grew accustomed to their new residence.

Here’s another intriguing development we have noticed.

Sometimes sharing a new spot brings familiar equines closer.
Although our horses were never pastured together at the former location, and they did not occupy adjacent stalls, they surely knew one another. Now, in their new home, they get along famously. We even placed my daughter’s mare with the two geldings for the first few days, until they settled in enough to assimilate into other turnout groups.

And my mare has grown very fond of a two-year-old Quarter Horse filly, pastured next to her. She even tosses hay over the fence to share with the youngster.

I’m not a barn-hopper, and I do not recommend relocating horses often.

But, when the need becomes pressing, it can turn out to be an opportunity to build an even deeper relationship between horse and human.

You don’t belong to the herd. 
You belong to me.
And that's magic.

Image/s
Unless specified otherwise, 
all photos by LAN/The Mane Point
All rights reserved.

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