“We moved yards twice in two weeks”

Gemma Shanks made the de­ci­sion to move her horses a sec­ond time when it be­came clear they hadn’t set­tled

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“THE FIRST YARD was a tra­di­tional liv­ery where the horses were sta­bled overnight and turned out dur­ing the day. I was feel­ing guilty as they’d lived out all win­ter in a field that was lit­tle bet­ter than a swamp and I thought they’d ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­tra com­fort. “I de­cided to take them both cross­coun­try school­ing on the day to take the edge off them as my Thor­ough­bred can be stressy. The beds were ready for our ar­rival and they set­tled straight­away. All seemed well. “How­ever, after a few days they be­came bol­shy, spooky and off their hay and alarm bells started ring­ing. I feared ul­cers and colic so in­creased their Speedi Beet and fed three or four times a day to keep things set­tled stom­ach-wise. “It turns out the rea­son for their be­hav­iour was that they never saw any turnout, and leg stretches in the arena had to be su­per­vised by the own­ers. I work shifts and found it was al­most im­pos­si­ble to keep them happy. “This led to the de­ci­sion to move again, just two weeks later, to a yard fur­ther away but with 24/7 turnout. I knew they were al­ready stressed and thought an­other move in such a short space of time could be dis­as­trous, but I felt I had no choice. Move morn­ing ar­rived and when the boys spot­ted the box they im­me­di­ately started shout­ing to each other. “Ever the op­ti­mist, I de­cided to pop them on the box and head to a nearby beach so they could let off steam. The boys were some­what be­mused but they en­joyed a swim, which seemed to do the job. “Their faces were an ab­so­lute picture com­ing off the box into a field of grass up to their knees, and they im­me­di­ately be­gan eat­ing and set­tled straight away. “OK, we don’t have sta­bles or an arena, but I have happy, stress-free horses and a won­der­ful yard owner. That’s so much more im­por­tant to me than fa­cil­i­ties.”

“THEY WERE OFF THEIR HAY AND ALARM BELLS STARTED RING­ING”

Odin set­tled re­ally well s econd time around, says Gemma Find out more about Sue Palmer and her work at the­horse­physio.co.uk. Thanks also to for­mer BYRDS rider Lizzie Hop­kin­son, a part­ner in Eth­i­cal Horse Prod­ucts (eth­i­cal­horse­prod­ucts.co.uk) for help with this fea­ture.

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