In November of this past year my 29 year old arab mare, Fawn died quite suddenly. She was running around and eating fine the day before and the next day she was gone. My other horse Buddy took it hard, really hard, because Fawn was his only pasture mate. The man who keeps my horses for me found Fawn dead in the barn at night so he couldn't bury her until the next day. He laid her in the pasture and covered her with a tarp. Buddy stood by her all night, never leaving her side. When they buried Fawn the next day they had to tie Buddy up because he was so upset.
Fawn was buried out in the big 40 acre pasture. But Buddy was locked up in the little 3 acre pasture because it was deer hunting season and he is a buckskin. He spent most of time that week standing by the fence looking up at the spot where Fawn was buried. He would call her once in a while, but soon he stopped trying to call and just kept standing there looking up at her grave. He was a wreck, he would only eat when I offered him treats, he looked tired because he must not have been sleeping very well, and he would jump at every little noise which is odd for him because he is a pretty calm horse usually. I immediately started looking for another horse, because I didn't want Buddy to have to suffer with such depression. Buddy is only going on 11 years old. Now he is they type of horse you can take out alone on the trail and he will be just fine, but if you have him live alone I doubt he would live much past 15 years old.
Two weeks after Fawn died I had found another horse and arranged to have him brought on a Tuesday. The very day Cappy was suppose to arrive Buddy snapped and escaped (he has Houdini like skills, we still don't know how he got out) and ran away to the neighbor to hang out with her horses. After Cappy arrived I went down the road and got Buddy and introduced the two. They got along great from the get go and Buddy started getting back to normal.
So far you are probably thinking you have heard all this before and it just typical horse separated from its herd behavior. But after Cappy came something happened that I didn't even know horses had the mental capacity to do.
Once I brought Cappy home I thought that Buddy would completely forget about Fawn. I was wrong. Often Buddy will lead Cappy up to where Fawn is buried and they will stand there for an hour or more, just looking at her grave. I have heard of elephants doing this, but never horses. It is amazing that even when Buddy has a new friend, the still remembers Fawn and still misses her. It is also amazing that Buddy reaches out for another horse for support in his grief and that Cappy understands even though he never met Fawn. Some say that human emotions shouldn't be attributed to horses, but how can you not when they grieve like we grieve. They feel loss, love, friendship, anger, and sadness just the same as we do. So remember that when you are training your horse, he is more like you than you think.
Sorry this was so long.