This winter I've made the tough decision not to show my hunter, Lily, at Florida's 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival. Okay, realistically it wasn't too difficult to decide--my bank account, day job, and other priorities made that choice for me. But it will be bittersweet when my trainer, riding buddies, and the rest of the farm family pick up and relocate next week to sunny West Palm Beach.

Lily won't be joining the rest of my barn this winter at this Florida farm. Instead, I'll be moving her to a new farm where I'll need to be more hands-on in her care.

Photo: Alexandra Beckstett

At that point I will move Lily across town to the barn where I board Hannah--a well-maintained 250-acre property with a heated indoor arena for training during colder months. This will be the first time I've had Lily anywhere but in the full-service care of my current trainer and his skilled staff. I'm nervous that I'll miss some important detail or fail to care for her at the same high level in her new digs, so I've created a pre-moving checklist to help get everything in order (download your own printable equine moving checklist here):

  • Track down all my tack (hacking bridle, jumping bridle, draw reins, running martingale, standing martingale, whatever happened to my girth?) and clean and pack it in my trunk.
  • Create a list of what equipment I've been borrowing and determine whether I need to buy of my own. I really like the flexible, rubber loose-ring snaffle I've been using on the flat, for instance.
  • Make sure Lily's shipping wraps are clean and intact for the ride over.
  • Gather Lily's winter sheets and blankets as well as her summer fly sheet and have them cleaned. Apparently my bright-blue heavy weight was ugly enough to accidently end up in last spring's "donation pile," so I've been presented with a more tasteful replacement courtesy of the barn manager. Win-win!
  • Get detailed feeding and supplement instructions (plus some feed to-go so I can transition her slowly to the new barn's cuisine) from the barn staff. Lily's in awesome condition right now, so I want to maintain her diet and routine to keep her that way. That reminds me, I need to update my SmartPaks account so her supplements now ship to me instead of the barn.
  • Get a detailed vaccination record and dental and hoof-care schedule so I can stay on top of Lily's maintenance.
  • Call the farrier who's been shoeing Lily and arrange for him to continue doing her feet (and Hannah's) at the new barn. He travels back and forth between clients in Florida and Kentucky during the winter, so I anticipate some challenges here.
  • Organize Lily's Coggins, health certificate, and United States Equestrian Federation records.
  • Make note of any other instructions specific to Lily's care, such as always turn out with bell boots, and dust her feet with talcum powder to ward off moisture-loving fungi.
  • Finally, arrange a sit-down with the new barn's manager to review Lily's turnout, feeding, and maintenance routines.

Once Lily arrives at her new home, she'll stay briefly in "quarantine" in a six-stall open-faced barn separate from the main 40-stall facility. After a week or so I'd like to get her accustomed to being turned out with Hannah. Until now, Lily has had an individual paddock for turnout, so I've never worried about scuffles with other horses. I don't even know if she's low-mare-on-the-totem-pole or if she rules the roost!

I will also need to find someone who can help me give her a respectable body clip once she starts getting woolly. I will continue competing during the winter months--albeit closer to home--so I prefer her to maintain a slick coat.

Through this process, I'm sure I'll learn more about Lily than I already do. I'm both nervous and excited for the move, but it will be fun to finally have both my mares at the same locale.

Advice please! Have you ever relocated a horse and how did it go?