Help! Serious Herd Bound Issues - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Help! Serious Herd Bound Issues

[B][B][B]there are only 2 Mares on our property right now. One is mine. I want to work with my mare every day but the owner of the other mare doesn't spend much time with his mare and she is the non-alpha mare.

When I take my mare away for training, the other mare screams and carries on for the entire time, which is very distracting. My mare is very bullish and upset as well because they are herd bound to each other.

We have tried the tieing and brief separation episodes. We have tried the putting one in the barn while working with the other.

I am frustrated because the other mare is basically a lawn ornament and doesn't get much ground work or training and I want my mare to move forward in her training but I am stopped due to this issue. She is dangerous and powerful while freaking out. When she is with her buddy she is a great, friendly horse.

My girlfriend who is an amazing horse person told me to separate the two horses, and put the ignored mare in another pasture where the two cannot see each other. Granted they may hear each other. And let them deal with being away from each other permanently.

I have read all the posts and there is some conflict about this strategy, saying it will cause too much stress and blow their minds.

I am quite willing to spend hours with my mare, just sitting around and grooming her or talking to her and of course working with her while she is by herself.

The other mares owner is not willing to continue with the baby steps. He doesn't understand the importance of them. So if I want to enjoy my mare in a safe environment, I am seriously considering this more drastic move.

I am wondering if anyone else has done this "last resort" type of thing.

I would really appreciate the help with this.

Last edited by Lynda3001; 09-08-2013 at 11:04 AM. Reason: have it stand out better
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post #2 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 11:19 AM
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Your girlfriend has a good idea. I don't think it will cause too much stress. Brisco and Golley are half brothers and they have spent their whole lifes together in a pasture, together on trails, together on everything. This year they got to be separated in their pasture and they did quite well. Brisco and Golley have been separated on trails before, and they have done very nicely.

One thing you could try, is slow separation rather than drastic - if you are worried about having their minds blown. (And this might be a better option in this case.)

Take both horses out to the arena and tie on to the fence. Work the other horse close to the tied mare. Lets call the tied mare 1 and the mare you are working with mare 2.
The next day, Tie mare 1 further down the fence. Work with mare 2 in the same spot you did yesterday.
Next day, mare 1 even further down and work with mare 2 in the same area.
Etc. until mare 1 is all the way to the other end of the arena.

Then tie the mare 1 somewhere outside the arena, but where they can still see each other. Work mare 2 wherever - making sure that a few times that mare gets out of sight with mare1.
Eventually, you will be able to first keep mare 1 in a stall and be OK and then have the mare keep in the arena while you work with your mare.
If the mare in the pasture still continues to whinny, that is fine. Over time she will learn that whinnying won't do anything.
When you work with your mare, in the warming up process make sure to groundwork her a lot and make sure to do a bunch of different cues so she takes her mind off the other mare and more on you. Each time you are working with her, if she begins to act up, do tons of groundwork or riding exercises to take her mind off the mare.

You also might want to do what your girlfriend says once the mare 1 can be int eh stall and far away from mare2. Just separate them for a few weeks or months and then put them together and if they act up again, separate them, but this time you won't have to worry about "blowing their minds."
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post #3 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 12:21 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Serious Herd Bound Issues

Thanks for your suggestions Amberly, we have done this and both Mares do settle, the only problem is that the Mare that is some what ignored ( his mare) is not handled enough that I can work with her at all.. For example to go in and tie her while I work my mare. she is an unpredictable, nasty girl and unfortunately to do this method, although it is probably the best would require the owner of that mare to be involved on a regular basis, daily at least until I can get my mare away full time and he is not prepared to be consistent with this time commitment.

That is why I was wondering if it would be a good idea to go for the plunge and just separate them out of sight of each other, let them ride it out and then when mine is calmer ( hopefully in a couple of days) start spending loads of time with her in her corral. Until she calms down ( because she is beyond seeing me beside her and is dangerous) I would be around but not necessarily in with her.

When calm I would....
spend time just hanging out, and doing my ground work, even saddling and schooling her in her own pasture.

Has anyone had to resort to this type of drastic action? If so, did it work?
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post #4 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 01:02 PM
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Hi Lynda. Two things from me:

1) If the other horse is not yours, I would be careful about working with her and putting her in a situation where she has the potential to injure herself. Even with the other owner's permission, things can south pretty fast if she does hurt herself and there are vet bills and future soundness problems.

2) Since it's in the nature of horses to be in a herd, it is tricky when you've only got two horses. For me, I took the easy way out dealing with the left behind horse. I have a companion horse that isn't rideable but who's job it is to be company for the horse left behind. Perhaps you might want to look into that. It doesn't have to be full size horse and it isn't that expensive if you choose appropriately - it could be a pony, goat, sheep, llama, etc., that is compatible with your mares' personalities. If this isn't possible, then you will have to persist with working towards developing a routine that each horse recognizes. The more predictable the routine is for the horses the more they accept it and not stress out about it. That routine is coming every day, taking out your mare for awhile and then returning her. If you have to, work her close to the pasture gradually increasing the distance. Be prepared to be patient as this takes as long as it takes but it is doable. Good luck.
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post #5 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Help! Serious Herd Bound Issues

Thank you for your suggestion Chevaux,

The other Mare is my husbands, I KNOW! frustrating! but I cant force him to work with his mare, it just isnt as important to him as it is to me to have a well mannered horse.

So.... given that the vet bills would be my responsibility as well, would you separate the two mares?

Getting a companion horse is out of the question unfortunately.
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post #6 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 07:51 PM
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Honestly, give the mare a pile of hay to munch on and go and take your horse to work them. If there is screaming, you just need to work hard to focus your mare. But they need to get past this because herd bound behavior is very stressful on all parties involved.
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post #7 of 7 Old 09-08-2013, 09:38 PM
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This is my version of the yo-yo game. Bring your horse out and let her enjoy a little feed (treats) in a pan then put her back. Wait a few minutes then bring her out only this time the pan is 50' away, then put her away. Repeat this until your horse is out of sight of the other, about 50' at a time, and she will begin looking forward to finding the pan. In the meantime this is having a yo-yo effect on the remaining horse as the stress level goes way up, then comes down, then up and down. A horse can do this only so many times and it will settle down. That is when you take your horse for a nice walk and let her graze a little before returning. Don't let her graze on the way home. Do this every day for the next 3 days if you can and you should begin to see a change in both horses.
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