Tonka Settles In

By Terry Golson

Almost two weeks ago, Tonka left The Ark for his new home in Maine.

The Ark was the perfect boarding barn and it was a challenge to find a place where my horse would be as content. I realistically accepted that there’d be compromises, but I also know Tonka well enough to know what critieria are essential for his mental and physical well-being.

I found a stable a half-hour from my new house in Maine. I prepared Tonka for this big move by doing a few things. I consulted with my veterinarian and decided on a course of UlcerGuard (horses under stress are prone to ulcers and this wards them off.) I also wanted to reduce the stress itself. I hadn’t trailered much this past year, and two of those times were to a veterinary hospital. So in the last month I took Tonka on a few short trips. Once just to a hay field to eat grass. Once to visit a favorite horse friend of his. Once to trail ride. So, when he got on the trailer the morning that we left the Ark, Tonka was expecting something good when he arrived at our destination.


We lucked out. It’s been an exceptionally rainy spring, but we moved barns on a sunny day. As soon as I backed Tonka off of the trailer, I  led him around so that he could get a lay of the land. For Tonka to feel secure, he needs to get a sense of a place.


Taking a few minutes to graze also helps Tonka to relax and feel confident in a new environment.


One reason that I selected this boarding barn was because of this stall.


Tonka can put his head out and look down the aisle. Tonka has lived at barns where this isn’t an option, and he’s not as happy when confined by four walls.


The stall also has a small paddock attached so that he can come in and out at will.


In his in/out paddock, Tonka can interact with the horses on either side of him. They’re both mellow and everyone immediately got along. Not a single squeal or kick at the boards. It helps that this barn feeds hay four to five times a day so that the horses don’t feel compelled to resource guard.


When it’s not raining and when the ground isn’t water-logged (did I mention that it’s been an extremely wet spring?) Tonka spends the day in this paddock. Grass and space makes for a happy horse.


As does a patch of dirt to roll in.


Did I mention how wet this spring is? It’s created a bumper crop of mosquitos. It’s kept us riding indoors. Which has been interesting. This is a hunter/jumper barn. The ring has stuff in it. So we’ve been going over it! Actually, pole work is just what Tonka needs for his SI rehab. I’ve scheduled a lesson with the resident jumper trainer to do cavaletti exercises. Should be fun!


One very windy day, which made it hard for the mosquitos to fly and land on us, we ventured into the woods and found this trail. I’m eager to go back. When the weather cooperates.


Tonka has already made new friends. There’s an appaloosa pony across the aisle that he chats with. (I’m making new friends too. Good people here.)


The hay is of excellent quality. The water is clear. When the weather prevents turnout in the grass paddocks, I’m there to hand-graze him.

Tonka seems content, which makes me feel the same way.

Not worrying about Tonka helps to take the stress out of my own move. Which hasn’t been easy. We bought a new house, but in doing some cosmetic work we discovered some structural issues. Where I live currently looks like this. Scooter copes by making sure that he knows where I am at all times.


But it’s not all worry. Scooter already knows where to hang out on hot and sunny days. If only there were more of them!

Have you made a big move with your horse? What did you do to minimize the stress for you and your horse? Let me know in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Tonka Settles In

  • chickencarol

    I am so glad that moving Tonker has gone so smoothly for you both. I look forward to hearing more about your new home in time. I am glad that Scooter has settled too.

  • Karen Pryor

    Lovely new quarters for Tonka! I’m delighted to learn that you found such a satisfactory barn, and not too far from your new house.
    Hay four or five times a day? Marvelous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a barn that supplies hay more than twice a day. It’s very good for their stomachs to eat more often; sort of similar to grazing, which is the natural way of eating.
    I’m glad Tonka has new friends and can chat across the paddock fences and across the aisle in the barn. That little appaloosa would be the horse for me if I were still riding. KP

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I toured barns that fed only twice daily. The contentment of the horses at this place is palpable.
      You would get along with that little appaloosa. Very clever, very alert.

  • Jan

    So glad Tonka is settling well, it may not be as plush as his previous but sounds like he will be very well cared for which is more important. Also lovely that he can get outside when he wants to and gets hay so often, helps them to digest instead off rushing to eat. Sorry that you have found problems with the house, hope these are soon rectified and you are able to enjoy your wonderful location stress free. Could you update please as to what happened with the Ladies, I know they kept Phoebe but not sure on girls. 🙂

    • Terry Golson Post author

      The Ladies stayed at Little Pond Farm. They are being doted on by three children. They are getting apple treats, lots of outings on the lawn, and their coop is being fastidiously cleaned. In return, the hens are laying eggs and the new family is discovering the joy of fresh eggs. It’s all good!

  • Daisy

    So happy everything goes smoothly for everybody settling in the new life . Relieved Tonka is rapidly adapting to his new space which looks great even a personal paddock !!! with all the comforts he loves. Scooter enjoying the sun and revolving around you… the center of his world ! Comforting. Your main concerns are happily filled and the rest should resolve as well with time… Looking forward to what lays ahead specially at this time of year when everything is possible 🙂 Thanks for sharing so generously !

  • Jaye

    Just getting caught up after a long absence from your blog. Lots of changes. I hope that this new chapter in your lives will be everything you are looking for.
    I may have missed it, but what has become of Pip and Caper? Will they be with you at your new place?

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