Problems introducing new horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-11-2017, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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Problems introducing new horse

Hi guys - interested in your suggestions here. We have a small herd of 4 mares, 1 gelding and a donkey that have all been getting along fine with no problems at all for the last 6 months. We then bought two new geldings recently, a 6 year old red roan and an 11 year old app, whom we kept in an adjacent paddock for a couple weeks before introducing - the two newbies didn't know each other but bonded within minutes and were best buds. Problems started when we turned them all out together - the app and the other guy out there turned on the roan and repeatedly chased him off/bit him. They seemed to settle down after a couple hours and I expected the usual fireworks for a day or two, but the next day the roan was covered in bites and kicks. He is clearly bottom of the pack by a long way and I saw several different herd members having a go at him, not just the app. We left them all together to figure it out but had to pull him out the next day as he was severely lame (a sprain I think) and looking very sorry for himself. Since then while his leg is healing I've introduced all the horses to him individually and they are all basically fine with him one on one in the small paddock. He acts in the weirdest way though - he is so needy and follows whoever is in his paddock everywhere, nuzzling them, nibbling, pushing up against them and generally being a pain in the ass. It's like he doesn't understand normal horse etiquette, he's like a foal who doesn't know how to act around other horses. I'm not surprised he's getting grief from both the mares and the geldings if he acts like that when they are all out together. I really want them to be one herd if possible so I'm going to try and integrate him again, now he's had a chance to bond a little with the individual herd members. I'm just worried that if he keeps up this in-your-face irritating behavior he's going to get his ass kicked again. Do you think he will learn to leave them alone/respect the pecking order, or am I crazy to try and turn him out with them again?! I don't want vets bills but I am assuming he should learn pretty quickly not to get in their faces like that.....advice/thoughts please!
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-11-2017, 03:39 PM
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The herd may be too large for him at the moment. Can you put him with the lowest of the current herd so he can get a buddy?
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post #3 of 10 Old 01-12-2017, 04:04 AM
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I've known of horses who have repeatedly been given (good) chances to be with other horses, but either because they're massive bullies or because they seem to attract bullying, by otherwise sociable horses, have not been able to live naturally with a herd. Those horses I've known & known of, and virtually every one I've ever heard of like this has been orphaned or otherwise kept in solitary confinement from a young age & simply have not learned how to be sociable. Unfortunately, while it's always worth a try IMO, when these horses mature in a 'socially bankrupt' environment, they often don't appear to be ABLE to learn later in life.

Actually this reminds me of a horrible experiment I saw once on baby chimps, who were kept in solitary confinement from babies. It was distressing to see their terrible depression living alone, then their terrible distress and antisocial behaviour when they were put with others, to 'see what happens'. I think possibly most people would recognise the anxiety in a chimp, having similar facial expressions, but unfortunately soooo many people are just oblivious to it in horses. Perhaps also because many people are so used to seeing depressed, stabled, not allowed to socialise horses, it is just the norm for them. I hate working at 'equestrian' properties, as they , as it's the norm for all the horses to be segregated and generally spend their life standing at the gate or pacing the fenceline...
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-12-2017, 05:55 AM
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How big is the paddock?

Are they being fed in there or just grass?
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 08:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by carshon View Post
The herd may be too large for him at the moment. Can you put him with the lowest of the current herd so he can get a buddy?
I have tried that, the lowest of the herd is fine being in with him (they aren't buddies, but they don't fight either) but she gets anxious being away from the rest of the herd, so I only left her in there a few days to keep him company. Maybe not long enough to form a bond? We've basically been rotating the horse that's in with him so he has company while his leg heals, as most of the others don't like being away from the herd so they aren't very happy in there.

Out of interest, how long do you think it would take for him to become buddies with another horse? Variable I know.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 08:50 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Saskia View Post
How big is the paddock?

Are they being fed in there or just grass?
Its 8 acres and during the period he was in there they were just on grass, no feeding. However a couple of them do get supplement now, and the girls that do it are supposed to take the horses out to feed them but I bet they don't always. Glad you mentioned that, when I do try and reintroduce him I'll make sure they know its really important not to feed any of them in the paddock.
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post #7 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 11:57 AM
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What loosie said but I will say this, on the opposite end of the issue:

When my two alpha leaders were alive, they protected the #4 horse from the #3 horse who is a bully.

They were elderly and laid to rest 18 months apart, between 2014 & 2015.

Since 2015, my #4 horse has been kept separated from the bully horse because, even with 20-some acres to run on, that nit-picking horse will find a way to corner the #4 horse if he gets up on the wrong side of the sawdust that day.

My #4 horse is insulin resistant, has foundered, has torn ligaments and absolutely refuses to fight back.

I said all to say you may be dealing with permanent separation and I have no other fixes to offer. That and I wish you the very best in figuring something out:):)

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.
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post #8 of 10 Old 01-16-2017, 01:57 PM
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Maybe because my pastures are bigger, but I have never had a problem in successfully integrating horses into the main herd, irregardless of alpha and other herd dynamics
This includes the yearly integration of the previous year's weanlings, who I kept separated over winter, due to different feeding needs at that age
I also introduced several horses that we used as breeding stallions for several years, then gelded.
What I always did, was to rotate the entire herd members with any new horse, putting them together in a large corral for a few days
Sure, at times those dominant geldings, esp the ones we had used as stallions, would be possessive of the mares, esp when they were cycling, and would make the other geldings stay at the peripheral area from 'their herd'
Those lower down geldings would form their own group, and come up for water when those dominant geldings were out in the wide open pasture
Dominant horses in the herd, are seldom a problem, far as new herd members, as their position is already very clear, ruled by just a look or slight body language.
It is usually those horses further down in that herd order, who are most aggressive towards new herd members, trying to keep that position they now enjoy in that herd
I also have safe fencing, where horses really can't get pinned, even in the part where the automatic waterer is
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-06-2017, 03:19 PM
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Do you have access to a horse trailer? I have found that if 2 horses dont get along, trailering them for a bit helps a lot.

Also, I have a socialization pen set up at the front of each pasture and if I see any conflict over the fence I will separate that dominant horse and the new one so they have only each other and once alone they tend to buddy if you have 2 small pens beside each other, or stalls etc...if they are beside each other and don't have other friends then they will likely buddy up. Being herd animals by nature, they cant help it. I have a couple geldings that I know are I always pull them out and socialize the new horse with them first...then put them in the pasture and introduce the others one at a time.

You definitely don't want to see your new horse get hurt and he may need to learn to be a horse and understand heir herd dynamics. Sometimes that means you need to separate him with another lower ranked horse that isn't quite so bossy...and let him learn. Inevitably though, if you need to integrate him into that particular pasture -then he will need to deal with the bully eventually. If it were me, I would separate the bully and then introduce the new guy to him after a couple days when he is lonely.

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post #10 of 10 Old 02-14-2017, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
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Hi everyone, thought you might like a quick update after all your helpful suggestions. So eventually, once his leg was healed, we reintroduced newbie to the main herd. The dominant app immediately went after him and kept chasing him so we removed the app and stuck him on his own in a small paddock. Newbie was totally fine with all the other horses when the app was removed, so we tried reintroducing the app a few times and every time he got after the newbie we took him out again. After a few days of this, they seemed to settle down all definitely still bullies newbie but nowhere near as bad, so I think we are good! Phew! Thanks for your help.
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