If You Plan to Mi­grate:

Dressage Today - - Book Excerpt -

F or those who move horses to Florida for winter train­ing and com­pe­ti­tion, fall is the time to pre­pare for a big tem­po­rary move. Lisa Gruen has mi­grated from Mary­land to Welling­ton many times, both ship­ping horses her­self and work­ing with com­mer­cial ship­pers. Here, Gruen shares key el­e­ments of the plan­ning time­line that help en­sure she and her horses ar­rive in Florida by the first of Jan­uary:

SEPTEM­BER: Se­cure Florida ac­com­mo­da­tions for horse and rider OC­TO­BER: Al­low horses brief down­time af­ter re­gional com­pe­ti­tions, then re­sume con­di­tion­ing for winter sea­son

NOVEM­BER: Con­sult with far­rier and ad­just shoe­ing sched­ule as needed. Gruen ex­plains: “Ideally, we try to plan it so they get their feet done in late De­cem­ber, about a week be­fore they go. This way, they have a fresh shoe­ing for travel and are ready to hit the ground run­ning when they ar­rive.” Like­wise, con­sider when and how the horse is clipped. Ac­cord­ing to Gruen: “I typ­i­cally clip horses around Thanks­giv­ing, know­ing I will likely need to clip again in Florida. I want them to al­ready be clipped well be­fore they go. I don’t want to do it too close to ship­ping, as that would an­other el­e­ment of ad­just­ment for the horse, which can af­fect his im­mune sys­tem and how well he copes gen­er­ally.” Fi­nally, re­serve a com­mer­cial ship­per for de­sired dates. If ship­ping your­self, now is a good time to get truck and trailer main­tained for the trip and also book ac­com­mo­da­tions at a halfway point where you and your horse can overnight com­fort­ably to break up the drive.

DE­CEM­BER: Con­sider the horse’s sup­ple­ments. Gruen ex­plains travel and in­tense train­ing are in­her­ently stress­ful for horses and sup­port­ing di­ges­tive health is a top pri­or­ity: “I al­ways start the horse on ul­cer pre­ven­tives at least four or five days be­fore the trip, with a full dose, and I plan to con­tinue it in Florida while he’s ac­cli­mat­ing or for the whole time he is down there, de­pend­ing on the horse.” Gruen also adds im­mune-sys­tem sup­ple­ments (dif­fer­ent op­tions are ad­min­is­tered in the feed or as an in­jec­tion by the vet­eri­nar­ian) to help pre­vent res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness that can oc­cur as a re­sult of long travel. Be­cause many horses will not drink suf­fi­cient amounts of water dur­ing ship­ping, Gruen plans to “pre-hy­drate” the horse by adding elec­trolytes to his water and “soupy,” wa­tery beet pulp to feed, be­gin­ning a week ahead of the trip. Upon ar­rival, closely mon­i­tor­ing the horse’s be­hav­ior and vi­tal signs for sev­eral days is cru­cial. Of course, in the last week or so be­fore de­par­ture, there is al­ways the chal­lenge of pack­ing equip­ment, ap­parel and necessities for a three-month jour­ney for horse and hu­man.

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