I never like bringing more than one horse to the farm in the same week. I try and space the arrivals out so we can get acquainted and they can settle in a bit. A new horse has a lot to absorb when it gets to my farm. I don't need two horses at once panicked and worried about being away from everything they are used to.
Two weeks ago, in a snow storm, I brought home Chloe. She is an eight year old Morgan mare. Chloe has moved before, but always with her stable mates, Max and Willow. Chloe walked onto my trailer, frightened but willing to please. Once home, I kept her in a paddock where she could see my other horses but not touch noses. She was pretty good about settling in or so I thought.
The following week, Snickers came to my farm for training. She is also about 7 and has never been off her farm as far as I know. Again, she was scared but had enough good human interaction to trust her owner onto the trailer. I put Snickers in a stall that looks out to the other paddocks so she knew she wasn't alone. She ate her hay for about an hour and then I put her in her paddock.
Chloe and Snickers were now near each other. Over the fence they shared stories and instantly bonded into bosom buddies. Once in the ring and working they were pretty good and focused, but the time they spent separated (from the paddock to the stall) was nuts. These girls could not focus. They couldn't even be brushed in the cross ties with out a misshap. I am always amazed at how much mental build up goes into basic horse training. I knew a few days of a routine would break their bond, but it feels like forever when you are in the moment. By day 9, each one could stand in the cross ties with out diarrhea or whinnying, major milestones as far as I am concerned.
Like sending your child to camp, a traveling horse is learning more than boondoggle. Interaction with or with out others is a big deal. A well traveled horse walks off the trailer with confidence. This is what I am finally getting with Watson after two years into travel. It is a lot to ask of a horse for the first or second time off the farm. Patience with this aspect is why I enjoy starting horses and for some, bringing them to their first shows. It's not always about the ribbons.