Keeping the solo horse happy - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-13-2020, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Keeping the solo horse happy

My horse will be on single turnout very soon. The horse he is pastured with is leaving, and as a result he will be on 24/7 single turnout. He will have a large field, plenty of grazing, but no access to other horses, even over the fence line. Only the barn owners two geldings will be on the property other than my horse.

I really love this place, the location is great and the owner is a very smart lady. But my horse becomes a bit of a basket case when he's by himself. He's a pesky, energetic, playful type that really likes to have a few other horses he cam romp around with. He's a doll who never takes a wrong step when he has a herd, but becomes an absolute jerk when he's turned out alone. Another horse person I've asked about it thinks that my horse is bored and wants to play with me due to his in-your-pocket personality, but it doesn't change the fact that he's downright rude when he has no equine buddies to blow off steam with.

He goes from a very compliant and submissive horse to a very defiant one constantly testing me and never giving it up. He does not work out of this behaviour. Last time he was in single turnout was for two months, and I worked him hard six times a week, in the exact same ways I always did when he was being sweet, and he was still moody and difficult. Since he's had the mare buddy, he's been much better, but not perfect like he was while with a large group of geldings in a different barn.

I've asked if the BO will introduce my gelding with her two and potentially have a mini herd, but she's very hesitant to because one of her geldings like to chase newcomers. I've practically begged her to at least try, but she doesn't see how different he is when he's alone versus when he's with a few friends. She's convinced it's the cold weather making him belligerent, but I don't see how that could be the case when he became so much sweeter overnight even when turned out with one ancient, play hating mare. Personality changes don't happen overnight for no reason.

I really don't want to find a new place, and I know the BO doesn't want me to leave either. She doesn't need me to contribute financially, but I do help out around her farm. Honestly I'd rather pay triple than have him turned out alone, but my board options are limited. I just can't stand my own horse when he's acting out and being so grumpy. If he acts like he did the last time he was on single turnout, I can't handle it. I honestly dread having to handle him when he's like that, knowing how angelic he can be when he's with other horses.

If there are any ways I could help alleviate his boredom and better his spirits in preparation for the solo turnout, I'd like to be prepared before the time comes, start any training regimens, buy all the required things, ect.

I cannot deal with the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde transformation he makes on solo turnout vs being in a herd. Anything to potentially lessen that helps.
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post #2 of 12 Old 02-13-2020, 11:41 PM
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Sorry sounds like he desperately needs a companion there is very little substitue. No way can split pasture so he has friends over fence line as a minimum? Are you able to get a second horse just for companionship? A donkey?
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-13-2020, 11:45 PM
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Just to add... I also had to choose between my horses sanity and nice facilities for me (herd, big turnout vs multiple nice arenas, tack room and heated water but solo turnout with only fence line companionship). I chose the former and she is so happy that the sacrifice is worth it.
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post #4 of 12 Old Yesterday, 12:32 AM
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Why not get a couple of minis or small donkeys? Or a Shetland or two? Would be company for your horse, but he shouldn't get too attached.

If the cost isn't an issue, and there is room in your pasture, seems like the easiest solution and wouldn't cost very much to keep.
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post #5 of 12 Old Yesterday, 07:27 AM
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Can he play over a fence and at least see the other horses?

For me, attitude change is a problem but I don't blame the B/O for not wanting to risk either horses well-being putting all together, truly I don't.
I also don't allow or permit my horses to play with me as a companion toy, that's dangerous.
You probably need to find another animal willing to put up with your horse or put your horse in his place.
Either you provide and pay for that companion or you may be faced with relocating...
Either way though, if my horse was pastured with yours and all yours did was play and run mine I would not be pleased either...
Finding a comfortable spot in this is not going to be easy...good luck.
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post #6 of 12 Old Yesterday, 10:27 AM
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If you'd be OK with paying triple, why not find a companion horse for him? You can find horses that are pasture sound only for free. Then you'd just have to pay board. It would be doing a good deed for the companion horse, too, since these horses don't typically have much of a future if someone doesn't adopt them.

PS Does this mean she kicked out the annoying boarder?
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post #7 of 12 Old Yesterday, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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I really, really do not want to get any more horses. Even if it's a mini, it'll still take time and care to make it a decent citizen. Most of the minis I've met are quite nasty, and only cost less to feed.

Looks like I have one option. I'll start checking out other boarding places.
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post #8 of 12 Old Yesterday, 02:42 PM
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All the minis I know are lovely cuddly creatures ;'< But probably best you move then as just easier for everyone involved. Its a shame but I think the right decision.
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post #9 of 12 Old Yesterday, 05:16 PM
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What about finding someone else to keep their horse with yours?

Yeah it's not just 'boredom' but real stress, on a herd/prey animal to be left alone. He would likely benefit from extra magnesium while he's in this situation. Many horses do *cope* alone, without too many problems(well, without probs to their eople at least) but it's not great for them. A very few actually don't mind or prefer to be alone(usually seems those who have always been kept isolated, so don't have good social skills) but most horses don't cope well in solitary confinement.
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post #10 of 12 Old Yesterday, 08:02 PM
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I don't think you are considering a mini or donkey but if you do and your horse is on pasture, you have to remember that minis and I suppose donkeys can not have unlimited pasture because of founder or obesity so they could not be out with your horse on lots of grass for long periods of time. Just something to think about as it may not answer your problem of him being out alone.
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