Ok, here is the story...
I have a rescue horse (21 yr old QH) that I got about 3 weeks ago. He has been in our riding arena and a shelterlogic for QT all this time. He can see the other horses and they can see him (unless they are out in the far back pasture) but they couldnt reach one another.
His QT time is over and we now want to integrate him into the "herd". We have a yearling (Comanche), a shetland pony (Sadie), a QH (Toby) and a TWH (Cherokee). Cherokee is the herd leader. He is not an easy going leader and rules with an iron fist/hoof. = /
We put Sonny (the rescue) out with the others yesterday. At first everyone was just grazing together. Cherokee kept Sonny away from the herd but didnt chase or act aggressive to him.... for about an hour. All of a sudden we see dust flying and see Sonny running and whining like crazy with all the horses running. It looked like Cherokee was chasing him most of all. The other horses appeared to be running away from the havoc.
Hubby stopped Cherokee from chasing and I checked Sonny over. He was huffing and puffing and had pee'd all over himself.
After that he was terrified of the other horses... to the point where he was at the furthest possible corner from them. When we tried to even walk him PAST the other horses in a different field entirely, he freaked and ran across 4 aces to get to the furthest corner and just stood there terrified.
I am not entirely sure of his history but I do know he was owned by a family for 18 yrs. In that 18 yrs I don't know if he was with other horses or not.
Cherokee can be relentless when he chases another horse and doesnt know when to stop. When we introduced the yearling into the herd he ran him down to the point where the yearling fell through fences to get away from him.
We put our other QH Toby out with Sonny in the QT pasture today and they got along just fine, eating together, drinking together. And then after feeding time we went to open the back gate to the pasture and when the rest of the herd was going out, Toby got upset because he wanted to be with his herd of course and started running... at which point he chased Sonny a bit. Sonny went and hid in the corner. I let Toby out to the back pasture and then Sonny was ok and back out to his pasture to graze.
It seems like Sonny is very timid. He is not aggressive and will flight instead of fight when it comes to the other horses. But it seems like after the flight he is highly traumatized.
We are thinking of putting Cherokee in the QT area and letting Sonny in with the rest. But Cherokee wont be able to stay in the QT area for long. I am sure he will bust through the fence to get to his herd. Especially since the love of his life is Sadie the pony.
What do I do here? How do I safely integrate this older and timid horse into the herd without him getting hurt or terrified to the point of colic or sickness? I have never seen a circumstance like this. Normally I toss a new horse into the field and they fight a day or two or three.... and then they are best buddies after that. I have never seen a horse react like Sonny has.
Is there any way to make this less painful of a process or do we have to just let it be and let him be terrified for a few days/weeks and hope he doesnt get sick or injured?? I am at a loss.... please help.