Ruth Hogan-Poulsen Dressage

Ruth Hogan Poulsen Dressage with training facilities in Plainfield, Vermont and Loxahatchee, Florida.

Questions To Ask (or Be Prepared to Answer) Before A New Horse Arrives

When I get any horse in for training or boarding, the questions about his/her history starts before they arrive at the farm. I try to gather as much information from the owner or previous owner as possible. For everyone's safety (horse, rider, barn manager, farrier and vet) I need to find out the essentials to help make the new horses' transition to my barn as smooth and uneventful as possible. The first questions I might ask are these: 

  1. How old is he/she?

  2. Is he/she up to date on ALL vaccines and Coggins tests?

  3. What does he/she eat?

  4. How many times a day is he/she used to being fed.

  5. What kind of hay is he/she used to eating and how many lbs per feeding?

  6. When was he/she shod or trimmed last?

  7. When were his/her shots and Coggins test done? And what shots did he/she get exactly?

  8. What has his/her turn out routine been?

  9. Is he/she used to being on grass pasture and if so how many hours is he/she out on grass?

  10. Does he/she normally get turned out behind electric tape or wood fence only?

  11. Has he/she been turned out with other horses?

  12. Is he/she an escape artist?

  13. Does he/she have ANY vices such as kicking, biting, cribbing, weaving etc?

  14. Is he/she used to having his temperature taken?

  15. Is he/she good for the farrier?

  16. Does he/she cross-tie?

  17. Are there any known medical issues?

  18. Is he/she prone to colic or casting himself/herself in the stall?

  19. Is he/she on any medications? If so, what, how much and why?

  20. What kind of grain does he/she eat, how much and how often?

  21. When was he/she wormed last and with what product?

  22. Has he/she ever had his/her teeth floated, and if so when?

These are some of the basic questions that I like to know the answers to before starting a program for any new horse. Some of the questions should be asked even before the horse arrives, like the shots and Coggins tests. I never allow a horse that has not been vaccinated into the barn, or a horse that does not have a current negative Coggins test. The health and safety of the current horses in the barn is my first priority. 

If a horse is coming from the show circuit or has been at a barn with many other horses, I like to separate them from the rest of the horses in the barn as best I can for a week. Both in Florida and Vermont, I have a few stalls that I try to keep open for "newbies" or travelers that are separate from the main barn population. This protects everyone. Often times a horse may not show signs of an illness, yet is a carrier of one. By separating the new horses from the main barn, and monitoring the new horses temperature and behavior, I feel I am protecting all horses involved! 

I have these questions listed in a note book that my assistant Melissa is in charge of. That way we don't miss any of the really important things and we have some documentation. A release form and boarding contract is signed at this time which includes emergency contact info and permission to treat the horse if the owner is not reachable. 

Next month we will talk about the questions that I would ask BEFORE I (or one of my staff) would get on a new horse.