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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 F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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