pigs and cows.... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-29-2013, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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pigs and cows....

So, I have this nice little (okay so big and fat) mare. She is a nice trail horse and a family friend is interested in a nice, safe horse. She asked and we mentioned this mare. Her husband would be the primary rider. He would like to ideal world use this mare to check fencing around his cows and the horse would have to live near his pigs. They currently have two shires who for various reasons they don't wish to use for this trail/fence check job. The issue is that the mare has never been around cows or pigs and I am woofully lacking in cow and pigs. Is there anything I can do to expose this mare. I would like to be able to tell them Yes she is okay or heck no she exploded at even the scent of it. I was going to put a few more rides on her (she has had a two year break) and expose her to the sounds of the animals and sort of go from there. The cows I worry less about the pigs they trouble me.

The mare is a 10ish year old standardbred. Retired for lack of speed. Great trail horse, only accident she had was when her rider (my non-horsey sister) rode her in between two trees tightly placed trees and my sister bumped her knees. If anyone is wondering why they don't just buy a quarter horse or other similar "cow horse". Its largely because in the Northeast where we are a lot of the quarter horses are either lame (Navicular) or incredibly hot. I have worked with wonderful quarter horses out west but in my local area they are not they steady eddy mounts that I see out west. They just want a nice safe mare whose primary job is to be a trail horse. Which is this mare in a nut shell, but they ride near cows and will be housed near pigs.
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-29-2013, 10:14 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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I have a hog pen right next to my horses and have never thought anything of it.
I have been told that some horses come unglued around pigs.
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-29-2013, 11:10 PM
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It's easy to get horses used to cows, just treat them as another 'thing' to get the horse used to.

Pigs are different as horses all have a natural fear of them as a predator. I have seen horses trained to overcome this fear and manage themselves around them, but it does take some doing. Horses that have always lived in the vicinity of pigs are fantastic because they have learnt not to be afraid.

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post #4 of 7 Old 07-30-2013, 08:01 AM
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Horses naturally hate and/or fear hogs. I do not know why, but I live in the 'cowhorse west' and my horses think pigs are close to being mountain lions.

We have feral hogs all around here. When they first showed up a few years ago, I had some awful wrecks from them including one that put me in the hospital for 3 weeks with a flail chest -- more than 25 rib fractures, a punctured collapsed lung and lacerated kidney. Earned me a helicopter ride and almost killed me. I was on a VERY good seasoned trail horse.

We made a hog pen, put it under a shade tree that we can tie horses to and in a place that every horse has to go past it to get to the tack room from the pasture. Some of the horses still do not like the hog (a really ugly pot bellied pig) but they do not panic like they used to.

A horse's breeding does not have anything to do with whether he thinks cows or pigs are predator monsters. Exposure to them when they are young is the best way to get them used to stuff like that. Then, too, there are some horses that are naturally less reactive and fearful of things. I've seen horses bred to be top cutting horses that were scared to death of the first cows they saw. We have American Bison. Our horses could care less, but new horses have a come apart when they first see them. It does not help that I have a Bison steer with a sense of humor. He checks out each new horse across the fence from him and 'snuffs' and 'snorts' and 'grunts' at them. If they panic, he 'prongs' up and down his pen like a playful colt. He thinks it is funny; I know he does. We have a neighbor cowboy that rides all of his horses over here just so he can make them go past the Bison pen.

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post #5 of 7 Old 07-30-2013, 08:13 AM
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actually it isnt mountain lions. Its bears. Pigs smell like bears. Or vice versa. Ever had baby back BBQ bear ribs ? OMG are they good.
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-30-2013, 09:01 AM
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Hey!
I live in the Northeast (MA) and I use my QH on our dairy farm to get the girls in off of pasture, check fences, etc. When I got him I put him in the pasture with some of the heifers and since he the only horse on the farm he loved having them to keep him company. He has a stall in the calf barn and he got used to the cattle extremely quickly. It turns out he's super cowy and I started going to team penning, and sorting competitions with him. He's done pretty well. That horse loves to chase cows!
Pigs on the other hand, I do not trust in any way. To be honest, I'm pretty scared of pigs myself so I wouldn't blame my horse for being scared of them either! I definitely would NOT put my horse in with the pigs. I think they're unpredictable and I've seen pig bites and they are gruesome! I think I would just let the horse be near the pigs and get used to their grunts and squeals and smell (maybe in a pasture next to the pig pen- not in a small enclosed area so that the horse can get away if they're uncomfortable and she doesn't feel trapped).
Some other nice things for your horse to know would be to allow someone to open and close gates under saddle, to drag, to carry weight in front of the saddle (in case you need to haul a calf back that was born on pasture) and to at least get her so that she's willing to walk into a herd of cattle. Get her used to tractors sounds too! She sounds like a sweet little mare. Let us know how it goes!
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-30-2013, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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The tractor is no problem (the track advantage), gate are a great point! I don't think its a matter of living near the pigs that the issue. If its bear smell then we might have a shot as we have a few that wander the area and they don't seem to bothered. I guess its more time and luck. I would be surprised if she is cowy but mostly nothing ruffles her feathers. We will see how it works out.
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