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Saddle-up Answers - Moving home

Kim wrote:  re moving home
Dear website readers,

I have been offered "grass keep" for my 2 Welsh Cob Sec D mares. The site is fenced securely and about 8 miles away. Water is available and there is plenty of long meadow grass. No stock have been kept on this site for years.

What sort of problems might I come up against? My mares have been on the same farm for 5yrs and I am nervous about moving them from familiar territory?

Can someone please advise me.


We really need to know a bit more to give sound advice.  Consider:

1.  Do you have to move them:  is the new place closer, cheaper or better than where they are now?
2.  Will they be easier or harder to supervise at the new place?
3.  Is the grass too good - is there provision to contain them in a smaller area if they start to get too fat - with the risk of laminitis?

As there are two of them they should settle down without too many problems but - if you don't HAVE to move, take a sheet of paper - divide it into two columns, and make a note of the advantages and disadvantages of each location.  Unless the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages - stay where you are.

Any other thoughts from readers?  Please complete the form HERE.

Reply from Cob Nut:
What you are offering sounds very much like the arrangement we have: our four horses, and three belonging to a friend, are kept in fields about 8 miles from our home.

Things to think about:

1. Are your ponies suited to living out 24/7, as you do not mention any stabling? (Being native types, they should be, but if they are getting older or have always been stabled, it's worth thinking about.) Is there sufficient shelter for them in the way of hedges and trees?

2. There is a whole host of things that you will need to keep at the fields: rugs, headcollars, ropes, grooming things, feed, buckets ...etc. etc. etc. Where is this going to be stored? Is it secure? (We bought a number of garden sheds and erected them at our fields for this purpose.)

3. Are you going to keep your tack at the fields? If so, you need a secure place for it. If not, you will be carting it up and down all the time: do you have a suitable car for lugging it all about?

4. Do you have a horsebox? If so, where is it going to be parked - at the fields, or at home? If at the fields, is it going to be secure? If at home, are you actually able to do so? (Not just from the point of view of having sufficient hardstanding, but also many modern houses have restrictive covenants in their title which would prevent you from doing this.)

5. Where is your hay going to be stacked for winter? How are you going to protect it from the elements if there is no barn?

6. How are you going to get water to your horses if the standpipe (or whatever supply is laid on) freezes?

7. Are there water troughs already there? If not, what are you going to use to hold water at the fields? (We use big plastic tubs with rope handles which you can buy at places like the Early Learning Centre: they're intended as toy boxes, but they fit the bill very well.) If this is at some distance from your stand pipe (as ours can be: we have several hundred metres of hosepipe) work out how you're going to move water when the hosepipe freezes up (which it will do long before the standpipe freezes). We use an "aquaroll", which you can buy at any good camping store.

8. Plan your winter paddocks carefully. Depending upon the soil type, expect them to get very muddy. Be prepared to have a "sacrificial paddock" which can get completely churned up. And take precautions against mud fever - such as feeding NAF "Mud Guard" starting very soon. And work out in advance what you are going to do if one or both of your ponies should come down with mud fever and need to be moved to dry ground for a while.

9. Is there anybody who lives near / overlooks the field? If so, MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM, shower them with gifts (if they're keen gardeners, they may be delighted with the offer of some of your muck!!) and give them your contact telephone number and that of your vet. They are your first line of defence in an emergency, and you REALLY REALLY REALLY need them on your side. If the horses should get out at 10.30 at night, it's far better to find out by having the people living next door ring up and say "I've just seen your horses walking down the road" rather than next morning , when you arrive to feed and find the fields empty!

I think that's all for now. It can be made to work, but it's not easy. Get it right, however, and it can be very rewarding. You are your own master, in control of your own destiny (and your horses' destinies), marching to nobody's tune except your own (and, of course, your horses').

Oh, and one last thing, if you decide to breed, be prepared for the expense of sending your mare to stud for the foaling. It's not fair on the vet to ask him to attend a foaling in the middle of a dark, muddy field!

Cob Nut


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