Moving from Southern California to Northern Virginia -- transition tips?
It looks like I'll be moving myself and my horse across the country within the next month or two and am preparing for a huge adjustment for both of us.
Right now he is boarded in Southern California where grass pastures simply don't exist. He has a 12x24 indoor stall where he is all day and all night. I do turn him out in the arena but this isn't a service provided by the barn and is only done when myself or a friend is there to babysit him.
He's fed flakes twice a day and I supplement him with grain at night. There is no grazing. The weather is mostly warm and he's clipped in the winter with a light sheet.
After we move he'll get turned out in a grass pasture during the day to graze and brought into a stall at night. There will be a wide variety of weather and it will be much colder than he is used to.
I think he will be much happier in horse country and have a significantly better quality of life but I am worried about the adjustment.
Do you have any tips for transitioning him safely into spending the day in the pasture and grazing? Any special considerations for the very different weather? I'm also contacting SmartPak to see if they have suggestions for changes to make to his supplements.
He's a pretty amiable guy and (knock on wood) a very easy keeper. I just want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to keep him from getting sick as he adjusts to a very different life!
Get a really nice, waterproof, Rambo or similar, blanket or two. Make sure he is fed lots of hay to help keep warm and has good shelter with water that does not freeze. Make sure he gets his vaccines this spring. We have West Nile, Potomac Fever, Rabies, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, in Virginia. I don't know if you have the same prevalence of these diseases in California, and if everyone gets the vaccines.
Any reputable facility will do this anyway but make sure his transition to grass is slow. An hour or two per day the first week increasing slowly to full length. If he is that much of an easy keeper you may want to consider a grazing muzzzle.
I'm in NoVA and I bet you and your guy will love being in horse country! Good luck with your move. And definitely you'll want a nice supply of horse clothing for the winter months. I just added the Smartpak Newmarket fleece to my boy's wardrobe for warmup time before we start working.
I moved horses from SoCal to Washington state and I also say transition slowly to the grass, even winter grass, and make sure you have a variety of blankets. It took two winters before my gelding stopped shivering. Also try to take a small supply of your own hay since California hay is probably different from what he may get on the eastern side of the country and he may need a transition period.
Most hay in Ca is very different from Va. I would see if there is a packaged hay type that you can get now in CA and will be available in VA. Oat hay is not easily found and the alfalfa is different than what you get. If you can change his gut flora now for the hay, then you can continue the hay while you change the gut flora for VA grass. I know that tractor supply is in both states and it might be a good source of something to use for the move before you transition onto the grass.
good luck. It sounds like an exciting move.
Thank you for your advice everyone! I'm going to be providing some hay to the company who is moving him but I'm not sure how much in addition to bring. What would be the typical transition period? I know when moving local barns I was always told to bring a few days worth of hay ... is that enough? How would I transport that much hay -- stuff it in a cardboard box and UPS? I'm sorry if that is a silly question
I'm hoping there are some good black Friday deals for horse blankets coming up before we move. I have to admit I'm excited to have excuses to "accessorize" more and buy my gelding more goodies!
Welcome ahead to NOVA!!! Did you mention grain, can you get the same here, I'm sure you can. I would also say 1 hour of grass here is too much to start with. If the pastures are really well cared for maybe 15 minutes is enough to start with. My big pasture stays rich until the snow doth fly. Remember Fall and Winter is when the grass stores carbs and sugar.
You will get use to putting on blankets, taking off blankets, putting on different blankets and rushing home because when you left the house it was sub zero and at noon it's 70 degrees
What do you do for riding, Virginia in general is the most versatile state I've ever lived in. I'm in eventing heaven here, but a friend of mine does western pleasure and breeds Arabs, another guy near us does trail riding with a large group that just goes to the parks and ride. Jumpers, hunters and the real hunting is all at your disposal. You have everything here.
RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"
"To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."
Welcome soon to NoVa! With an easy keeper, I would recommend a grazing muzzle. My guy, while not a hard keeper, is very sensitive to sugars and will probably be in a grazing muzzle until the grass is under snow, like Eventer55 says.
For blankets, I have had good luck with my mix of a very light T/O sheet, one normal T/O sheet with a hood, and two mediums (one high neck, one with a hood). An insulator bottom layer is helpful, but I haven't needed to use it the last couple of winters. Layering is your friend here. Even clipped, two mediums have kept my field boarded TB comfy even in out in the Snowmageddon we had a couple years ago.
Failure is always an option*
*As long as you figure out what you f'ed up and fix it! -Me
Last year, a friend purchased a horse who had been living in LA. He, unlike most horses in SoCal, was used to being out 24/7 but obviously not on grass! We took our time and slowly introduced him to pasture, gradually building him up until we felt comfortable leaving him out overnight with his new friends. He is a big, rangy TB, so I wasn't too worried about founder or blimping up, but we still took careful consideration.
About the same time, we also got in a little Morgan from the desert of Arizona...so, at least they both had someone to suffer with! I was more careful with the Morgan, since they are prone to the chubs.
Since both guys arrived in late summer/early fall, there was no extreme shock to their system regarding the weather, but we monitored them both carefully and made sure they were blanketed appropriately.
I did, however, have a NZ horse import from NZ to NOVA a few years ago in February! It's summer in NZ, and the poor guy arrived in an ice storm He had NO winter fuzz, obviously, and was a little shell shocked, to say the least. Lots of really warm rugs, complete with hoods, and careful monitoring that he was warm enough. I don't think a SoCal horse will feel the shock quite like that guy did!
Both my desert boys did not get grain before they came east. The TB lived on alfalfa, and since I had it in my barn, I kept it up, also introducing him to more typical east coast hay, and added in a ration balancer, and, eventually, some high quality feed. The Morgan was just used to hay, so I gave him some RB, and let him have as much hay as he liked.
Both guys adjusted just fine and lived to tell the tale! I think the biggest consideration is adjusting to the winter weather (which isn't horrible in NOVA, but is nothing like SoCal!!!) and feeding. Sounds like you are on top of things! May want to check availability of your grain (I don't THINK it is sold here), and either switch him now to something that is, or plan to ship a bag of his stuff with him so you can switch him once he's here.