In psychology A-level we studied stress, and more particularly the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. It was developed to measure the effect of life stressors on health, with each stressor being given a value. The top one is obviously the death of a spouse, but I remember being surprised at how high the value of moving house was. Now in my experience, moving house hasn’t been stressful as we moved into our first home from our childhood homes so could do it over a number of weeks and had few belongings. Now I look around and realise it would be quite stressful trying to move all of our belongings to a new house in one day, which frequently happens in estate chains.
I digress. Recently a couple of people have told me that they’re moving out of the area, and moving their horse too. Then I realised that moving region with a horse must rank pretty highly on the Stress Scale. Probably as highly as moving house…
I started making a list in my head of all the things you would need to consider.
- Somewhere to keep your horse. You need to consider livery packages, facilities, cost, location…
- Farrier. What services do they provide, which areas do they cover and how much do they cost? I think I would make sure my horse was shod just before the move to give me time to do some research.
- Vet. The internet is probably the best source for comparing vets and seeing the areas that they cover.
- Feed. Where are the local feed merchants, what do they stock, and what deals do they do? Does the new yard supply forage, or do you have to source it yourself? Where can you store your feed?
- Dentist, chiropractor, saddlers and all other regular check ups that you need.
- Local hacking routes, people to ride with, nearby competition venues.
- Instructors, places to train, local riding clubs.
All of these things would need to be planned in advance, or if not then almost immediately after you have moved; whilst simultaneously settling in to your new job, home and lifestyle.
Then of course is the physical moving of your horse and all your equipment. Just think of all those rugs, tack, tools, grooming supplies, your own riding gear, first aid kit, feed bins, any unused feed, buckets, boots, bandages, haynets, lunging equipment, whips …
Honestly, I can’t imagine doing it. I think I’d need the trailer to transport Otis, and then another trailer for all of his belongings!
Like people, horses take different amounts of time to adjust to their new surroundings, and whilst some can be naughty when settling in, others can be quiet and depressed with the stress of a new home. I think it’s important to keep some semblance of their old routine; exercise, handler, daily routine etc to help them adjust. Hopefully with a couple of consistencies in their life a horse won’t take long to feel at home at a new yard, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a horse didn’t seem to settle for a couple of months, particularly if they weren’t the most confident and stable horse initially.
Can anyone shed some light on the joys of moving yards and house at the same time and if these life events were as stressful as I envisage.