|« Ginger Kathrens, Nominated to National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board||Senior Canine Comfort Care »|
Help Your Horse With Relocation
by Nayana Morag
By the time you are reading this I may well be in the sky with a small herd of horses (6 of them), flying across the Mediterranean to a new home. Like me, horses are nomadic creatures, so moving is part of their genetic/energetic heritage. But they weren't designed to fly in a plane, or to be dropped suddenly into a new environment, so we must adequately prepare them in order to keep them healthy.
Not all moves are so dramatic, but any move holds potential stresses and challenges to a horse's well-being. As long as it is culturally acceptable to sell a horse when he can no longer fulfil a human's expectations, most horses will change homes in their lifetimes. Sometimes it is necessary -or kinder - to re-home a horse, even if it breaks your heart. Maybe a new horse will join your herd. There is no reason our horses should suffer from change if we pay attention to their needs during the transition.
Early preparation is the key to a smooth move. Preparations will vary depending on the life experience and character of the horse, and how big a move he is making, but a few things are a must in any move.
Most obviously, make sure he is comfortable loading -; do not leave this until the last minute. Also, if he has not been in a trailer for a while, do a refresher to make sure he is still happy with the concept.
If your horse is not accustomed to riding in a trailer, take him for fun trips, even if it is only going around the block a couple of times and unloading him at home. Riding in a trailer is physically demanding for a horse and, like any other exercise, the more he does it the more he will develop the necessary skills and fitness.
If there are going to be major changes in management style at his new home, start to introduce them a week or so before travel to avoid mental or digestive upsets. This may not be possible if he is coming to you from far away, in which case you will need to make the changes at your end. Give pro-biotics to reduce the chance of ulcers, starting a few days before travelling, and continuing until things normalise at the other end.
One of the most common mistakes people make when moving a horse is to rush his integration into his new life. Even the most seasoned traveller needs a couple of weeks to settle and start sleeping properly as he gets accustomed to the sounds and habits of his new home; he may be more nervous or bad-tempered until then. I always allow at least a month before I expect a horse to be able to concentrate and learn anything new. For horses who have never moved before, or those with issues, it can take much longer. Use this time to build a strong bond from the ground by hanging out and establishing boundaries, and using appropriate essential oils (see NHM V14I3, An Aromatic Bond). I also like to show a new horse around the neighbourhood on leisurely in-hand walks as a way of building trust.
Essential oils can be helpful physically, emotionally, and mentally when relocating your horse. They can reduce mental stress, stimulate immune function, relax tired muscles, and help a horse bond with a new human. Following are essential oils I commonly use when relocating horses:
Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) gives a strong, rooted center when all around is moving, so it is ideal for any life changes, especially for those who act unsettled or fearful after a move. It is also a pulmonary disinfectant and a circulatory stimulant.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. bigarade) steadies the nerves, making it especially helpful for nervous travellers, or those who suffer from nervous anticipation. It is also indicated if the horse is leaving close companions. Neroli also settles nervous disturbances of the digestive tract.
Violet leaf (Viola odorata) is another oil that helps horses settle into a new environment and build trust in others. It is especially good for those of a suspicious nature and veterans. It has a very mild analgesic action, so it is good for relieving/preventing stiffness.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) is the 'yin' companion to Cedarwood. It is especially beneficial for those who have withdrawn into themselves or become self-defensive after a move. Geranium gives a feeling of inner security and receptivity so that you can flow with the changes. It also supports genito-urinary function.
Lemon (Citrus limon) is a strong immune stimulant and anti-viral. It also helps the mind remain clear and assimilate new information. I recommend it be offered to any horse that is travelling.
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) deepens breathing and keeps the mind from worrying. This is one I use mostly if the traveller is fearful, feels claustrophobic, or is moving to a new home from a place where he has not been treated well.
Jasmine (Jasminum officinalis) helps settle hierarchical issues, especially for males. Offer it to those stressed by the introduction of a new horse to a herd, especially if the stress is expressed by bullying. It also helps horses who don't want to load.
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) is another oil that is good for the lungs, (which in TCM relate to the function of letting go), it deepens breathing, and is anti-asthmatic. It is also euphoric, ideally offered when horses come off the trailer to soothe sore muscles and relax the mind.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is one you hopefully won't need, but if a horse becomes distressed for any reason, Valerian is a sedative that can take the edge off hysteria, and calm the most nervous behaviour. I never travel without it.
Personal kit to send with horse
Finally, if you are sending a horse to a new home, pack him three of his favourite oils and explain to his new owner how to offer them. In this way, your horse will be able to start training his new person in the art of listening as soon as he arrives; nothing will help him settle better.
While most of us would like to keep all our horses with us forever, circumstances or temperament may mean that it is in the best interest of a horse to move to another home. This is true even in the wild - mares move between stallion bands and bachelor colts get sent away from the family group - so horses are hard-wired to move on and adjust. If we help them make the transition with thought and sensitivity, it can be a time of happy new beginnings for all.
About the author:
Nayana Morag, author of Essential Oils for Animals, is one of the world's foremost experts in the use of essential oils and aromatic extracts for animals. She has developed a system of animal wellness she calls Animal PsychAromatica, founded on the use of essential oils, understanding animal behaviour and the reduction of physical, environmental and psychological stress. Nayana also works with horses and owners to help them develop a positive, creative relationship based on trust and understanding. She teaches worldwide and also offers distance or on-site consultations, workshops and a professional standard Certificate in Animal PsychAromatica.
Form is loading...