Importing a horse is a very exciting time and many questions can come up about how to care for your new import to help them adjust to their new life.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are some things that your new horse may not be use to:
Spray (fly spray and coat polish are often wiped on in Europe)
Clipping of the ears
Automatic Waterers: Until you are sure your horse is drinking plenty out of the automatic waterer, please provide buckets!!
ENGLISH! Your horse will not know English commands on the ground, this includes vocals like “whoa” and “calm down”, etc. So, be patient…they pick up English really fast!
When your new horse first arrives, he will most likely be very tired and a bit drawn up. He may have lost some weight.
**IMPORTANT: Please understand that your new horse has undergone a major transition by being shipped internationally, it may take 2 or 3 weeks before he has settled down. During this time, he may look at things and seem afraid of everyday objects. Just take your time and help him adjust, he will soon be back to his normal self!
**Monitor the amount your horse drinks during the first 24 hours very carefully, if he is not drinking or is not drinking enough…call your vet immediately!**
The First 24 Hours:
Hand walk your horse for 15 or 20 minutes to stretch his legs and get the circulation going after the trailer ride. Give him a bath, we suggest using Tea Tree Oil or anti-itch shampoo because the horses are usually very itchy when they arrive. Take this opportunity to carefully check the horse over for any cuts or scrapes from transport that might need attention. It is also a good idea to disinfect the soles of the hooves, many people use bleach or bleach and water.
Once your horse has been cleaned up, get him settled in his stall with plenty of water in buckets, in case he is not used to the automatic waterers. Give him plenty of hay to eat and let him get some rest. Try to keep well-meaning visitors from disturbing him. Check on him every few hours to make sure he is drinking. If he is not drinking normally, call your vet! Dehydration is common in a newly imported horse and this can lead to colic. Also, make sure you check for normal bowel movements and urination.
The First Week:
Even though you are really excited, it is best to use this time to get your horse use to his new routine and to do some groundwork to teach him English commands without riding.
To teach your horse basic English commands, put him on the longe line and start line you would with a young horse. Give the body language signal and say “walk”. Once he starts walking, let him know he is a good boy. Work on whoa and walk at the same time until he is listening to both. Then start on “Trot” and repeat the transitions “Walk-Trot-Whoa” until he is listening and doing this with ease. Then introduce canter. It may take several days until he is relaxed and doing all of these things well.
Please do not attempt to ride your horse before he is calm in his new surroundings and responding to his English commands well. Even if this takes longer than a week. Each horse is different and taking your time will help ensure a good experience for both you and your new horse.
At this time, it is usually ok to start riding your new horse. If they are relaxed, settled in, and responding well to English commands. Before you do start riding, make sure your saddle fits your new horse properly. It is also a good idea to have a chiropractor check your horse to make sure his back is not out from all of the travel (horses get turbulence too!) No matter your experience level DO NOT attempt to ride any new horse alone!! Make sure you have someone with you and wear your helmet. Start slow and soon you will be up to speed with your new horse. It is a good idea to put your horse through a fitness program to make sure he is fit to do the “at level” work before you start active training.
If you have any questions about your new horse, please feel free to call us anytime. We will work with you and the horse’s previous trainer to get your questions answered. Remember, we are here for you every step of the way!
Please remember that every horse is different and this is just a general guide to helping a newly imported horse adjust.