Is a horse happy alone if he shares a fence w/ other horses? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 09:53 AM
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I wouldn't think of it as Casper living alone as much as Casper having his own space, with the ability to interact with other horses at his instigation. It's a typically common situation in a lot of boarding stables. It's usually done because of space (much easier to put up a 12x24 mare motel or 24x24 paddocks than have spaces for multiple horses) convenience for the borders (if someone comes out during dinner or right as they're being fed, Owner A can pull Horse A out without worrying about Horse B eating all the food) and feeding (some horses need grass, some need alfalfa, easier to feed when separate). The horses then can interact over fences. Maybe not the most ideal world, but I always thought of horses living alone as being literally alone with no contact. Being able to socialize with a neighbor isn't living alone.

My own set up for my horses where I do self care board is two large paddocks separated by a stud wire panel (which was in place before I moved them there) that's probably 6 feet tall. There's lower panels on the ends so they can touch around the corner and a feeding hole in the fence.

Honestly, I think my mare is a lot happier not to have to have contact with my gelding who is the perpetual little boy in a horse costume (he's a Haffie, nuff said). They can stand together at the fence line, but he can't pester her through it.

I open the gate between them when I clean. They usually switch places at that time, and occasionally hang out, but most of the time if the gate is open, my mare wants nothing to do with my gelding. He can walk up to her, in his own lala land world and she's got her ears pinned with a really cranky look on her face. (She just doesn't like him that way, there's a few other gelding's she really has the hots for, but my gelding is definitely in the friendzone.)

She was a pasture horse who had some pretty traumatic experiences at pasture, I've been witness to several instances with bully horses and she's really stressed about eating, which is why I keep them separate especially at feeding time. The way my setup works, they still have some contact, without having to physically share the space.

Some horses just aren't meant to be together.
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post #12 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 10:55 AM
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When my mare T passed, Walka was alone for the first time in his life (he was 14 at that time). She was his mother, and except for a short time during weaning, they were always together as they shared an extra large stall, paddock and pastures.

He fared quite well for over a year. Demeanor did not change after he accepted her absence (better then me), didn't lose weight and was calm.

When Misty entered his world, after letting them adjust with each other, I thought "great, now he will have a friend and so will she". You see she had been kept separate from horses almost her entire adult life (she was 12 when I got her).

After 2 weeks I noticed Walka appeared to look thinner! The next week he had a bite mark on his shoulder (pretty serious one, not a love bite) and she had kicked him in his back leg (fortunately didn't do any permanent damage).

Separated them immediately and now they have a fence between them and separate living quarters. They still interact, and enjoy each other in the pastures, but Walka is NOT dominant and has NEVER defended his space with her, so I can't allow him to be caught in a corner or stall a gain by Misty.

They both seem happy with the arrangement, and I don't have to worry about potential injuries ect.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, "Oh crap, she's up!".
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post #13 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 01:24 PM
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I think it's better than nothing, but the best is still for them to have a real companion (a friend, not et bully that bites and kicks all the time).
Two years ago, I put my horse in a livery yard where he couldn't share his paddock with another horse. In the end, the yard's owner decided to let him stay with his cow because he was happier that way, but still, he looked fine and all, he had no problems, but when he was back home, in field with other horses, I felt he was better.
Of course, when they are on their own (even with others horses beyond the face), they are happier to see their rider and to do stuff with him.
For exemple, I know that my mare feels good... when she doesn't call me when I arrive. She used to do it all the time when she used to live alone, and with an other horse she didn't like. It was good for my ego, but later, when she was with other horses she like more, she started calling me less and less... and it's a good thing because it meens she has a real horse life.

However most of the time, we do the best we can, and the best we can is not always the best we wish. As long as the horse seems to be ok with it, there is no need to be too worried.
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post #14 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 02:38 PM
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My horse is quite happy to be by himself.
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post #15 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 02:39 PM
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I've found that a lot of horses are actually happier when they don't have to compete for hay or sometimes just a place to stand when you've got one that's a bully and just seems to get pleasure from constantly moving the others around - oddly enough that 'bully' is also often happier on its own.
I keep mine in separate paddocks a lot of the time and they'll have a scratch over the fence if they feel like it but mostly they aren't as sociable as people think they are. I have two mares that will play with each other but it always gets rough and ends in tears - usually mine because I've got a vets bill to pay or a horse that's lame so can't be ridden
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post #16 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 02:51 PM
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I agree that in general, it is better for horses to be together. I also agree that not all pairings work. And I agree that horses are individuals and some are better suited to solitary life than others.

One consideration I would watch for -- does your horse feel confident enough to lie down and get the deep rem sleep he needs every day? Some horses are never able to relax enough to lie down without a herd mate standing guard.
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post #17 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Joel Reiter View Post

One consideration I would watch for -- does your horse feel confident enough to lie down and get the deep rem sleep he needs every day? Some horses are never able to relax enough to lie down without a herd mate standing guard.
Alternatively, a horse that is the lowest on the totem pole and gets pushed around by others constantly is not likely to relax either. That was the case for Harley for months, and even now, I don't think he would ever lie down in his paddock. He even lost a bit of weight because the kept chasing him off the hay piles (BO put out more than there were horses, but it didn't matter). I also think he didn't get much water during the day because the water trough was in the indoor arena and he was afraid to get trapped in there (it happened a few times and it wasn't pretty). Things are better now, and he's put the weight back on, but I don't think he can ever relax. Frankly, I'd rather seem him in an adjacent paddock.
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post #18 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 05:45 PM
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I find that mine are more inclined to lie down when they're on their own than when they're in with a group and they mostly sleep when they're in their stables - when we do the last barn check at around 10pm they're all lying down asleep
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post #19 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 08:38 PM
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Generally speaking, no. Sure they'll 'cope', but I'm a great believer in ensuring, as much as possible, my animals have a GOOD life, not just 'survive'. I work at a number of 'equestrian properties' where horses are all in adjoining but 'private' paddocks. It's sad to see all the depressed & bored horses. Of course sometimes not possible, & sometimes, due to lack of socialisation with horses in the past, horses are problematic when kept with others, but I'm a great believer in letting horses BE horses, including living with others.
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post #20 of 20 Old 03-07-2016, 09:08 PM
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It's important to remember that the reason horses are supposed to be kept with other horses is because they are naturally herd animals and feel safer in a group.

Some horses have lost this evolutionary trait, while others cling onto it or were taught it as a foal.

I think that as long as a horse can see other horses, it will be okay - horses rely on each other to send warning signals of predators, so if a horse is left completely to their own devices this might upset it. The closer it can get to the other horses, the better, but these deal with social requirements rather than safety requirements.

And of course, as many have said, it all depends on the horse themselves! Some are natural loners, while others absolutely need a group. If your horse seems to be in distress, it may need other horses. But, it sounds like he's doing okay on his own!
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