Managing the Stresses of Moving

I was wondering if you could help guide me with what might be good to give my horse. I have moved her from my house in Maine were she was living the good life: grass pastures and low stress environment. She is now in Massachusetts in a stall that is smaller with bars, (she is used to having an opened half door set up), with little grass in the pasture it is mostly dirt. The hay is poorer quality but she is still on her SP and grain from home. I am moving her tomorrow to another stable in Massachusetts so that she will be closer to me here. The stall is around the same size that she is in now and with bars, and no grass turnouts they are all dirt. I can tell that she is not happy where she is now, and that moving so much within a month’s time is probably stressful for her. She is a draft thoroughbred cross mare, 15 years old. Is there anything that you would recommend that I give her to help with the transitions? Thank you so much for your help and time. MO, Maine

Dear MO,

Bad news first: the biggest changes in your mare’s life (long distance travel, removal from friends, transition from pasture to stall life) are over, and without the help of a digestive conditioner such as Succeed. I like to start horses on a product like this about two weeks before major upheaval in their lives to help them cope with the stress of it all. And I leave them on this supplement for at least two weeks afterwards. Of course, you may really like how your mare does on it and decide to keep her on it long-term!

Now for the good news: there’s still plenty you can do to keep her healthy and happy. Make sure she gets as much turnout as possible and hand graze her as much as you can. Since she’ll be spending more time in a stall, consider getting her a toy, an entertaining treat or a Himalayan Salt Lick to give her something to do. She’ll be missing out on some vital nutrients by moving to hay from pasture, so make sure you provide additional Vitamin E and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, at a minimum. You mention she’s still on her SmartPak and grain from home—what’s in your SmartPak and how much grain is she getting? If you’re already providing these two nutrients via supplements or by feeding the full recommended amount of a fortified grain, then she’s in great shape!

You don’t mention that she’s prone to any conditions like gastric ulcers, weight loss, or muscle disorders, so I assume you’re lucky in this regard. One final piece of advice: it’s not too late to think about using APF or another product with adaptogenic herbs to help her respond appropriately to the stressors in her life which will in turn help support her immune system. She’s been introduced to new horses and new facilities that are bound to have new bugs (think: first day of grade school).

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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