How to tell if a horse is "lonely"... - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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How to tell if a horse is "lonely"...

Our new horse, Sonny, is in a 2 acre pasture by himself. It's in our backyard so he sees a lot of us, but not constantly. There are two horses in a large pasture across the street (about 50' away) and they spend some time at the fence "talking" to Sonny occasionally. My question: are these horses sufficient company for Sonny? What are symptoms of a lonely horse? Sonny seems perfectly fine now, but we've only had him a couple of weeks. He's a 7 yr old gaited saddle horse with a calm demeanor.

FWIW, Sonny was not the dominant horse in his previous herd.
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post #2 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Sonny01 View Post
Our new horse, Sonny, is in a 2 acre pasture by himself. It's in our backyard so he sees a lot of us, but not constantly. There are two horses in a large pasture across the street (about 50' away) and they spend some time at the fence "talking" to Sonny occasionally. My question: are these horses sufficient company for Sonny? What are symptoms of a lonely horse? Sonny seems perfectly fine now, but we've only had him a couple of weeks. He's a 7 yr old gaited saddle horse with a calm demeanor.

FWIW, Sonny was not the dominant horse in his previous herd.
I have 3 horses in my pasture -- there are about 6 horses in the pasture next door --- both groups spend time at the fence "talking"

Not sure about the lonely question though
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post #3 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 07:28 AM
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I'm not really sure if there is a certain way to tell, but horses are meant to have contact with others. They are social herd animals, and sometimes will act out or lose their social skills if kept away from other equines. Get him a mini or something if you can afford it!
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post #4 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 08:50 AM
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If a horse is in a pasture by itself, it is lonely.
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post #5 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Taffy Clayton View Post
If a horse is in a pasture by itself, it is lonely.
In most cases, yes. But it depends on the animal. We have a gelding that we had to keep at the house, with no contact, sight, sound, smell of other horses around. I was so concerned. He was only 3.

He NEVER cared... from the beginning. Even when he got well enough to start riding and we DID ride past other horses in their pastures, he didn't seem interested.

When he's with horses (as he is now) he is herd boss, but isn't chummy. When alone, he's perfectly content.
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post #6 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 09:05 AM
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I think its going to be few and far between to find a horse with their herd instinct "over ridden". Keep a horse without other horses can lead to many problem... Cribbing, buddy sour, fence walking, etc. A lot of these habits are **** near impossible to brake. If he shows interests in the other horses across the road he probably is looking for companionship. Get a mini horse, you can find them free or extremely cheap, most are easy keepers and the only real expense you have to worry about is vet and farrier.
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post #7 of 32 Old 08-22-2013, 09:34 AM
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Plenty of horses are kept on their own and are perfectly happy about it, I had a pony that wouldn't tolerate another horse in her paddock - they got attacked and driven out even though she was perfectly fine ridden with other horses she just preferred her own space.
Look for warning signs - weaving, cribbing, pacing up and down the fence, whinnying constantly at those other horses, going off his food
He does have those neighbours he can chat too so if he seems OK I wouldn't worry too much - if you are concerned then you can pick up mini's really cheaply or even for free and they don't cost much to keep - you would have to keep an eye on their weight though and might have to restrict grazing as they are prone to laminitis
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post #8 of 32 Old 08-23-2013, 04:45 AM
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I know a "Loner horse" myself, actually. When the others are away playing, this grey connemara is a few metres away grazing by himself taking no notice. Some horses just prefer their own company, but if you want to see something really funny, put him in a small arena with a mirror!xD
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post #9 of 32 Old 08-23-2013, 05:55 AM
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My dad's mare has been retired to a lovely couple with huge fields.
She has always been with other horses, or alongside other horses if her partner in crime was on box rest or being worked. They were going to buy her a mini, but she has made friends with their cow and is MORE than happy.

I think it really depends on horse and situation.
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post #10 of 32 Old 08-23-2013, 06:20 AM
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When I moved a previous mare to a paddock on her own, her personality changed a lot. To an outsider who didn't know her they probably wouldn't have picked "lonely", but because I knew her I knew how different she was.

Lots of people have stories about "that horse that was okay alone". No one argues that they are around. But no one is telling stories about "that horse that wanted to be with others" because that horse is the norm. I personally think all horses should be with other horses if possible (obviously not if they are super aggressive or something). I find horses are calmer and more responsive when kept with others.
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