Separation anxiety or Jealousy??? Help!
So I am pretty new to horse ownership. I am in grad school so I decided to get a second horse to keep my first horse company in between visits. My new horse is a 7 year old gelding. He is great to ride, very smooth and well behaved, but in the pen he is a little jealous and wants all the attention. He will get in between me and my mare and nip her if she comes up to visit. I am able to control this and make him stay away while I give her attention and he does mind me now and keep his distance after being fussed at a little. But the problem is my mare is now sort of nervous of him. If he walks near her she flinches and moves back to keep her distance. So I try putting him out in the field to graze while I work with her and she FREAKS OUT. She goes crazy if she can't see him and all she does is run around crying for him and looking for him. Yesterday I tried it for an hour and she cried the whole time. She got so upset she worked up a full sweat and was soaking wet and it wasn't even a hot day. I wanted to ride her but she was behaving so badly that I was scared to (she is normally a very very calm horse). So Im wondering.. Is she attached to him or is she just jealous that he might be getting a treat that she isn't getting? I can't tell! She acts like she is attached to him but when she is around him she acts like he makes her very nervous which is also weird for her because she is afraid of absolutely nothing and is not jumpy at all except for around him! I need to fix this problem ASAP because I can't ride two horses at the same time and separating them is a nightmare. Even if I ride my gelding he can hear her yelling for him and he will talk back to her from all over the neighborhood!
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As much as I believe horses feel emotions, what we would describe as jealousy isn't one of them. This is a classic herd bound situation. He is her leader, and it sounds like he hasn't hesitated to be aggressive about it to show her, he may just have a larger personal bubble that she got in the way of a few times. This may be why she is nervous around him. If he's still relatively new, she's still learning his personality, how close is too close, etc and she's just being cautious.
But these two do need each other. Is it just the two of them together? That will make the bond even stronger. If you can, try riding them in an area where they have a visual on the other while you work on this issue.
Take it slow, every week halter and lead one away from the other and stand for ten to 15 minutes, praising when they are calm. Work on easy ground cues to get their focus on you. First week, only go ten feet from the fence where the other horse is, do this until they don't mind, then go twenty feet and so on. It's a long pro leadership in these situations you will have overall calmer, happier horses :)
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He's now the boss of your herd of two and they are herd bound to each other. Do you have a stall where you can place the horse you are not riding so they don't run and get into a sweaty mess?
If you can, work on separating them like the above poster mentioned. Some horses are fine alone when you ride the other, domes horses freak out.
Yep. Just some separation anxiety. My gelding (herd alpha) is convinced he will die if left alone. He screams and paces the fence line for a little while... and then realizes that there is food out there and it's ALL HIS! Then when I bring my mare back he screams and paces again just so we know he was upset ;)
Good luck getting them used to being apart!
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