Location, Location, Location

moving a horse to a new barn, april d. ray, how to help a spooking horse
The Relatable Rider

In my last blog, (Struggle Bus), I talked about the challenges I was having with my mare, Fire. Looking back, I recall just how frustrated I was. I hate to admit it, but riding was becoming a chore, and I was no longer enjoying it. I pride myself on being a problem solver, not just with riding, but in general, and I was frustrated about not being able to fix whatever issues were plaguing my horse. I take my job as her caretaker very seriously, and all I want in the world, outside of any performance goals and aspirations, is for her to be happy. 

Well, I am thrilled to report that nearly all the problems have been resolved since I wrote that post. How? Well, after exhausting almost every other possibility, scoping her for ulcers, checking her teeth, back, hocks, and otherwise eliminating pain from being a factor, the magic solution was something unexpected: A change of scenery. 

Although we loved the barn we were at, an opportunity came up that was too good to pass up and aligned well with other changes in my personal life. I made the tough decision to move Fire in the hope that a new environment would do her good. What I didn’t anticipate was how quickly and dramatically she would change. 

She has never been a good loader so I was nervous about trailering her, which is not helpful. I stressed so much the week leading up to moving day, worried that I wouldn’t be able to get her to the bottom of the property, let alone actually inside the trailer. But when it came time to load, she marched down to the trailer, took one look inside, and willingly hopped on. I felt an immense sense of relief when those trailer doors closed.

Photo: Stefanie Fournier Photography

At the new farm, she unloaded like a dream, looked around, walked into her new stall, and started to eat like she had been living there her whole life. It was the smoothest transition I have ever witnessed. I rode her the next day and she was great, although I would be remiss to mention that it did take a few weeks to get used to the new cross-ties; in typical Fire fashion she had some strong opinions about them. 

Now don’t get me wrong, Fire is still Fire, and she reminded me of this last week when I let my guard down and she unceremoniously deposited me in the dirt. But the drama is minimal, and I am left with a horse who is happy to do her job, and I am thrilled to be doing it alongside her.  

We have been at our new home for just over two months, and the changes in Fire are almost unbelievable. Having more room to run, buck, and play has made such a difference in her behaviour and attitude. A quieter environment and a super supportive barn are precisely what she needed, and what I needed too. We have also slightly changed gears, and changed saddles too! Turns out the one I was riding in wasn’t an excellent fit for her after all. 

I have no idea what this year holds for Fire and me; I just know that riding and owning a horse is fun again, and I am incredibly hopeful and excited for the future.  

Don’t be afraid of change, because it is leading you to a new beginning. — Joyce Meyer

moving a horse to a new barn, april d. ray, how to help a spooking horse