Sending a horse away for training can be pretty stressful, especially if you don’t know what to send with him. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be all that bad. With some planning ahead, and smart packing, your horse will soon be off to school, and you can relax and know that he’s all packed.
If your horse is on a special feed, you may want to keep him on it while away. Ask the trainer what they usually feed, and ask if you can send your own. Some trainers will give a discount on their board if you supply your own feed, so be sure to ask up front.
Pack your feed in a large plastic garbage bin with a lid that seals. The ones with wheels work the best as they are easy to move around, even when full. You can use a permanent marker on the lid to write your horse’s name and how much feed he gets. Include a scoop so that the measurements will be accurate. Make sure your horse’s name is on the scoop too, so it won’t go missing.
Finally, if your horse requires any supplements or medications, you should include them with the feed. Once again, write the dosage and your horse’s name on the container.
Usually a trainer will use her own saddles and bridles. If your horse needs custom tack, you will probably want to send it along with him. You can get your name installed on the cantle of your saddle at your local tack shop so that it can’t be mistaken for someone else’s saddle. If you have a special bit or bridle you can send it along too, but always ask the trainer before sending any tack. Bridles can be labeled with a name plate over the crown.
Your horse will of course need a halter. The halter should be correctly fitted to your horse and should have his name clearly marked on it. It should be in good repair. Some trainers will insist on a leather halter, but most will leave it to the owner’s preference. Find out if the barn leaves halters on for turn-out or in the stall. If they do, consider a break-away crown piece made from leather or a leather halter.
While a leadrope might be necessary at some trainers’ facilities, most barns have their own leads. Yours will likely grow legs and walk, so it is better to leave it at home. Fly masks are a good addition in the summer, but once again should be clearly labeled with permanent marker. If your horse requires boots or bandages for turn-out or when working, include them, but make sure your horse’s name is on them.
Should your horse require blanketing, send along any blankets he wears. Make sure that they are in good repair and are labeled. The fewer blankets you send, the better. Many barns do not like complicated blanketing plans, so do your best to keep things simple.
Something many people may not think of is including paperwork with their horse. Make up a binder to hold this information and clearly mark it with both your name and your horse’s name. One page should include information about your horse: his barn name, his registered name, his age, his breed, his height, his color, any markings, any special needs he might have. Another page should have all of your information: your name, address, phone number, an emergency contact. This page should also include the contact information for your vet and farrier. While the trainer may prefer to use her own vet and farrier, she may need to contact yours in an emergency. A third page should include all your horse’s usual care routines. Discuss his turn-out routine, current training schedule, feed schedule, and any quirks he may have.
Sometimes a horse that goes to a trainer is for sale. If so, include in the binder information about your horse that would be suitable to give to a potential buyer. Make at least 10 copies of the sales sheet so the trainer does not have to worry about giving out the only copy. Include a photocopy of your horse’s papers if he is registered.
Another thing to consider is that your trainer may ask for a commission if she finds a buyer for your horse. Make sure that you have a clear contract for the sale ready and have your trainer sign it. You will also want to include a copy of the boarding/training agreement in the binder and some kind of a liability waiver that keeps the trainer or her staff from suing you should they be injured by your horse.
Generally, the less you send with your horse the better. Anything you send has the potential to get lost, so try not to send anything too valuable. Consumables like fly spray will likely be used on the other horses, so don’t expect it to be kept exclusively for your horse’s use. Label everything clearly with permanent marker to reduce the chance of losing it and to minimize illegitimate use. Find out how much space will be available to your horse for his equipment, and send along a safe container in which to store his things. An alternate idea is to get a cloth bag which could be hung from his halter hook, or from the blanket rack.