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Do Horses need a companion?

This is a discussion on Do Horses need a companion? within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Are horses better off alone in pasture
  • Do horses need buddies

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    09-15-2011, 02:02 AM
  #11
Yearling
My 1st horse spent her time in the field with the cows for a few years before we bought another horse. Even with two, she enjoyed being with the cows. She was the boss there and even pushed the herd bull around.

The might function alone, but they will be better off with other herd animals around. Even if it's in an adjacent field. She almost always see some of the caws even if they happen to be in separate feilds. The 2nd horse was just another playmate to her.
     
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    09-15-2011, 08:45 AM
  #12
Yearling
Jack was alone for the first 10 months that I had him & he was becoming very agressive & spooky. When he went to the trainers & got around other horses, he mellowed out very quickly. Now that he is home & we have our donkey, his temperment has completly turned around. He is very calm and relaxed now
     
    09-15-2011, 01:03 PM
  #13
Yearling
My first filly was raised with 2 goats. She was just fine. In fact it was kind of nice to be able to go in and not have a herd bound horse. She had companions that she bonded with, but nothing that hindered her from learning.

My aunt's mare is alone, and she is getting worse. I can definitely tell she is depressed, but nothing I can do about it, she's not my horse. Anywho, I would not recommend leaving a horse alone, especially if it is used to other horses around.
     
    09-15-2011, 02:17 PM
  #14
Weanling
Just because a horse doesn't come to you and say "hey I could use a buddy" doesn't mean he's fine being alone. I've heard so many people saying "my horse is happy being alone" or "my horse doesn't care" and I never understood how they found out. A horse doesn't need to go berzerk in his stall, try to run through a fence or be visibly depressed to not be happy alone. A horse may very well seem fine but not be. The problems that living alone usually creates are very often not noticeable until later in the horse's life, encountering a particular situation etc. I knew a girl that had to sell all her horses but one and decided to keep him alone at home. For years she didn't have a single problem with him, one could say he seemed like a happy horse. Everything seemed perfect till the day she brought the horse to our stable for training because in the end she unfortunatelly had to sell him too. That horse went into an absolute frenzy when he just smelled another horse. He would want to attack any horse around and if that horse attacked back rather than shy away he would freak out trying to take off. He'd been alone for about 3 years (and with other horses for 10 years before that) and I'm telling you, he acted as if he never saw a horse in his life before. He was scared of other horses, he had no idea what to do with them. I have no idea where he ended up in the end, she didn't bring him again. I hope he's in a happy home now but judging from the behaviour I saw I don't think he had many chances of being sold (at least to someone who has other horses). Now I'm not saying horses kept alone will develop this kind of behaviour. I'm just saying my own experience, what I have personally seen and it was everything but pleasant. You could say he was better alone but I would definitely not describe him as a happy horse.

Horses are herd animals (just like humans) and need a companion. I know it's not always easy to have multiple horses but that's the way they were made. A pony or a donkey can be a very good companion too. I also know some horses that have formed a very strong bond with a goat. Around here where I live it's very common for people to adopt an older horse or a horse with some kind of injury or health problem that prevents him from being ridden from a shelter as a companion for their riding horse (they usually come for free) but while the horse comes for free there can be quite a few vet bills in the future...

I have also heard some horses kept alone will not lie down to reach REM sleep which can lead to some serious problems like narcolepsy when after a long period of not being able to reach REM the horse will simply fall into REM while standing/eating/working etc. I have only heard of this happening in theory but I wouldn't want to go try and see if it's true.
starfia likes this.
     
    09-15-2011, 02:58 PM
  #15
Green Broke
Lots of free horses out there that for one reason or another arnt good for riding, but are nice and would ,ake good pasture pals, Any horse still needs some basic care though. Shots, feet, whatnot,
I have a goat, he is great, very entertaining, lots of personality, and extremely intelligent They don't need any care, do just fine on the food the horse drops, and grass or weeds. Imune to most diseases other than tetnus. All in all great critters.
On the bad side, they don't seem to pay any attention to fences, electric or otherwise, but if there is food, water shelter and their buddy they will pretty much stay put. You will have to stay by the horse at feeding time because the goat will punk out the horse and take his food.
     
    09-15-2011, 03:05 PM
  #16
Foal
Totally depends on the horse! I can't have a companion with my horse as he gets so attached it's nearly unhealthy
     
    09-15-2011, 04:53 PM
  #17
Foal
It depends, some horse do very well on there own ( I have known some examples and they are usually alpha type horses, the kind they don't like any other horses near them) however in general I think they like buddies around ( at least to SEE and HEAR) I feel they are far healthier and can rest easier.

Dillon does not like being in an enviroment without other horses around ( he is okay if you put him out alone if he knows there are other horses in the barn or in the area and he is comfortable with the enviroment) but if there are no horses around and he is in an new enviroment he will call and look for them and

Just act different (more unrelaxed ) in general.

Studies show that even if a horse SEEMS okay alone that they aren't in the best of condition they could be as they can be in anxiety INWARDLY. (since horses are stoic creatures and don't want to produce outward signs of ditress to predators )

One horse I knew lived alone on property for a long long while and when another horse was introduced was a completely different horse (she didn't notice how much healthier a horse could be with a buddy).

The horse was in good weight and seemed okay. But everytime the owner would come the horse CLUNG to her and was VERY EXCITED to see her and in general acted lonely for awhile when she left

once the other horse was there the horse stayed out longer and would not GALLOP up to the owner everytime it saw her bellowing it greetings. (it still came over to say hi, just much more mellow) it actually GOT FATTER! And was taken off grain altogether.

So imho I think they do much better with a companion (sheep,goat,pony etc.) than without. Even if thy don't show distress ( They could just be hiding it)
     
    09-15-2011, 05:14 PM
  #18
Weanling
Am I right that donkeys also can serve to protect horses from dogs, coyotes ect?
     
    09-15-2011, 05:41 PM
  #19
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calmwaters    
Am I right that donkeys also can serve to protect horses from dogs, coyotes ect?
Yep. Donkeys tend to take care of their friends. They will kill predators if they get the chance.
     
    09-15-2011, 05:46 PM
  #20
Weanling
Good I will get one when I bring Tequila to my house because there are a few dogs I worry about that run loose around her and I do not know who owns them and animal control is a joke around here. So I got a little of topic. ; )
     

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