So I bought a new horse. It’s an exciting and emotional time, of course, because I’m getting to know my new fur baby. But this is also a traditionally busy (and can be expensive) period in a journey with a horse — this is the time I’m starting to chart out what my new horse needs to be happy and healthy, before a lot of our under saddle work can begin.

Here’s my personal check list of things I plan to have wrapped up in the first few months of owning my new horse.

✔️ Farrier appointment. Stat. I bought a 6-year-old off-the-track thoroughbred who had been sitting in a pasture for the last two years. He’s sound, but his hooves were in horrendous shape. I had my top-notch farrier out the first week to begin charting my new gelding’s short-term and long-term plan for healthy hooves.

✔️ Vaccines and Coggins. Duh. Luckily my gelding came from a decent track owner, who kept him up to date on most routine things. But spring is still upon us, so it’s time for shots. This seems like an easy and natural way to introduce my new horse to my vet after the pre-purchase exam anyway, and get his advice and opinions on my horse’s health and confirmation.

✔️ The Dentist. Ugh. While my horse luckily came from a responsible owner, there’s no telling when and if my gelding has ever had his teeth floated. I can tell from the way he chomps at the bit and the way his front teeth look that they are long, longer than they should be. It’s probably not a bad idea to get a look inside his mouth and make sure everything looks normal in there.

✔️ Worming. You can do a fecal egg count through your vet, but it’s definitely worth getting him on the barn’s worming schedule ASAP.

✔️ Sheath Cleaning. So my horse had been sitting in a pasture for a while. I doubt he’s had his sheath cleaned in some time. While I’m totally capable of doing this task myself, I leave the first time to a professional. I don’t want to miss anything important. And it’s always a good idea to watch and see how a new horse will react to being touched in that area before getting all up in there yourself.

✔️ Assemble a Robust First-Aid Kit. This is the time to make sure you have Banamine and Bute for your new horse, and that it’s not expired. Vet wrap, poultice, pillow leg wraps, fly spray, antibiotic cream, you name it, you’ll need it.

✔️ Supplements. Horses do not need to be on supplements just to be on them. My new guy is young. But depending on what the vet and farrier have to say, I would consider getting him on supplements that could help his feet, coat, or weight gain as soon as possible. This is also the time I’ll introduce my gelding to a routine sanding and fiber regiment.

✔️ Saddle Fit. So I’ve ridden my new horse in my current saddle a couple of times with no issues. But it’s worth getting a knowledgeable saddle fitter out to make sure my tack fits him appropriately. My new gelding is wildly out of shape, so I’ll probably have to have the fitter out again in another six months or so as his body changes with the development of muscle.

These first few months will be all about getting to know each other and our personalities. I’ll see who he meshes with in the field and where he stands in the herd pecking order. We’ll also start taking it slow under saddle. Got a tip I missed when taking on a new horse? Add your own in the comments section.