how to integrate horses into a herd
 
 

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how to integrate horses into a herd

This is a discussion on how to integrate horses into a herd within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • How to integrate a new horse into a herd
  • How to integrate a new horse into herd

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  • 1 Post By Janna

 
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    09-03-2012, 11:15 PM
  #1
Foal
how to integrate horses into a herd

I recently just purchased a two year old 12.3 hh pony (gelding). When he arrived on my property I placed him a field by himself that was adjacent to another field where the rest of my horses are. The rest of my horses (all mares) consist of two +16hh warmbloods, a 13.3hh pony and a 14.1 hh pony and they all get along. At first they were all inquisitive about meeting the new pony over the fence, but now one of my warmbloods will go out of her way to try to bully this new pony. She will charge across the field if she sees the pony coming to the fence, will pin her ears and try to bit & kick at this pony through the fence. My other horses also don't seem to like this new pony and will also bit and pin their ears when the pony comes close but at least not to the extent that my other one does. I would like to integrate this pony into my herd but I am fearful that he will get beaten up quite badly. I wouldn't be so concerned if he was bigger but he is 12.3hh and I'm afraid he won't be able to hold his own. I was just wondering if anyone has any ideas of how to safely integrate him into a herd. Thanks!
     
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    09-04-2012, 02:04 AM
  #2
Green Broke
Your new guy will have to stay in his field awhile longer until the animosity diminishes from your mare. It's hard to state a time frame but you may be looking at easily two weeks or longer for this to happen. It's all about pecking order with horses and how your agressor feels about the need to protect her position in the herd. You'll probably notice some of the other horses becoming neutral to his presence after awhile and this can be an opportunity to put them in with him one at a time for socializing and establishing how they relate to each other (you'll want to be around to supervise). That will make it easier for your new guy when finally turned out with the herd if he only really has one die hard agressor to deal with.

It's funny how some horses click right away and others can drag out a hate for ages. I do think there is a tendency for discrimination to happen between mares and geldings though. I've had a situation where I introduced a new mare to my little herd (all mares) and they all stood around doing a group hug and then trotted off over the hill together and I've had a situation where one of these same mares took a dislike to the newcomer, a gelding, and it took him literally months before he could let his guard down and keep his hide intact.

Good luck and patience will win out.
     
    09-04-2012, 03:12 AM
  #3
Green Broke
Keep the fence between them for a while. You could do the one on one intros. How big is the field that they are in? Would he have enough room to escape them? More than a few acres would be best. Otherwise, just start with the one on ones.

Depending on how well the horses respect you, you could try walking the newbie in the herd. Do not do it if any of them do not see you as alpha. Use the lead rope or a cue stick to stifle any aggressive behavior to the newbie. I did this with our new 4 month old. It not only reinforced to the herd my leadership but also showed him it. It helped him learn that next to me was a safe place. Even after he was able to be put into the herd, there were still some scuffles. I don't think he had learned yet how to respect other horses very well.

Again, unless you have dominance of the herd and total submission from them, do not do it. It will become a very dangerous situation for you very quickly.

No matter when you do put him in, there will be bites and kicks. It's inevitable. It has to happen for them to set the hierarchy of the herd. He will get chased. He will be kept away from a hay feeder at first. Once he has learned his place, they will let him in.
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    09-05-2012, 01:44 PM
  #4
Yearling
Switch him and the meanest one for a while.
Also. Sometimes they think they're big **** over a fence.
I know a lot of horses that will fight over a fence, but put them together and they act like friends.

I have one of my own that does that. He has the fence to keep himself safe, but as soon as they're together he's a scaredy cat.
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