“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
“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.