Should My Horse Be With Other Horses?
I just got my first horse about a month ago. Right now he is being kept in a stall with a turnout. His turnout is next to 3 other horses that he can touch noses with a talk to but he is technically alone. He has been in this situation his whole life (his previous owner told me) and is 8 years old so i figured he is used to it. Right now the weather is freezing and it rains about every day so i decided not to turn him out to pasture (where it is muddy and wet) and to keep him in the stall with a turnout. I ride him about 4 times a week so he is getting enough exercise but I am concerned that he isn't getting enough social interaction. When I ride him in the arena I am usually always with other riders and their horses and he does fine with them. He never pins his ears or bites or kicks. He barely pays attention to the other horses. I guess I am wondering if it is bad for him to be alone? Should he be in the pasture with a pasture mate? I am torn about this and need some advice.
The more turnout time, and the more social interaction, the better. It is neither physically nor mentally healthy for a horse to be cooped up in a stall. Quite honestly, they do best with a big herd and many acres to roam, 24/7. They live longer, are healthier and happier, and develop far fewer vices.
That said, if your horse has always been solitary, he may not have developed the necessary social skills, which could put him or his herdmates in danger in a group setting.
Horses are healthiest when they can run - not trot, but run. Unless there is some health issue that necessitates confinement, a small paddock where they can walk around and trot a bit is not sufficient. Horses are very suceptible to lung issues - they need the hard exercise and deep breathing that running promotes...horses that are confined in stalls and small areas have a higher incidence of COPD and hoof issues, and arfe more prone to catch the flu. Not everyone can provide an ideal environment of course - just telling you what is best...
I cringe every time I see a horse ALONE in a pasture or paddock with no other horses in sight day after day....
Can they get used to it? Sure, SOME can.
But is it what is what is best for them???
At least your guy can SEE and SMELL other horses.....that is of some comfort to him. But I've seen quite a few places where there is ONE horse on the property, living a solitary life....and that just isn't normal equine behavior. SOME can adapt to such a life, but it doesn't mean they like it. Or that it is good for them.
In answer to your question: your horse isn't isolated from other horses, technically, since he can still see, smell and touch noses with other horses...so he isn't alone in a strict sense of the word. But I DO think he needs to be out in pasture with a buddy.....not just in a paddock. Horses do need to run, play , buck and chase each other....it benefits them emotionally, and what benefits them emotionally also benefits them physically......
My horse is out with 2 other horses on about an acre, one is his age and the other is 4 years younger. The younger one had been isolated since he was weaned and has difficulties in the herd, but the other two horses are good to him, but expect him to learn. It's a good situation.
If you are going to turn him out in pasture try to find a more dominant horse who is not aggressive and quite herd savvy to "teach" your horse how to be a horse.
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Thanks for all the info everyone! I am definitely going to turn him out to pasture soon. We are thinking about switching barns to a place that is closer to my home(saves a ton of gas) and turns all the horses out during the day and brings them in at night. I think it is going to greatly benefit him. :)
Amen to this!
I don't cringe or worry when I see a horse alone, because there are a lot out there that are like mine, they just don't really enjoy the consistent company of other horses, or the stress of keeping a pecking order. Indie enjoys seeing other horses, but staying with them too long stresses her to the point of weight loss. Many horses aren't bred like the "wild" ones are, they got pampered "pet" horses in their genes and some are pretty darn fine with it xD
Each horse to his own, some enjoy being a "peoples" horse, and others rather stay in a herd.
Billions of years of innate genetics cannot be undone by pampering.....or breeding. Instinctually, a horse is a horse.
You can take a horse out of a herd, but you cannot take the "horse" out of the horse
If your indie gets stressed in a herd, it's because she's USED TO being isolated, which does not necessarily tranlate into PREFERRING being isolated.
It's odd that you haven't ever considered that maybe the reason being in a herd stresses indie is because she's never been allowed to learn to be a horse. And a horse is a herd animal.
Horses need a companions of their own kind in order to live as the Creator intended them to live....I wouldn't second guess the Creator!!!:shock::shock:
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