No companions? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 04-22-2014, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: San Juan Islands, Washington
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No companions?

I'm hoping to get a horse soon, but we probably can't take on a companion for her. The horse that I would be getting had pretty much had other horses across the fence or pastured with her for her whole life. I was wondering if horses will act out or get depressed or something (?) if they have been used to having a horsey friend for most of their life and then they don't.

“The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-22-2014, 05:23 PM
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There are a few horses that do well living alone, but -since horses are herd animals- the majority of horses will do better in the company of a friend/"herd".

However, that "herd" doesn't necessarily have to be a herd of horses.
It could be a goat, a pair of goats, a donkey, some sheep, a llama or two, a cow, a camel...really any 4 legged prey animal with a herding instinct can potentially fill the herd need.

My late mare actually did better with a pair of goats than she ever did in a herd of horses. One goat was dominant over her and the other was submissive - I think my mare really liked filling that middle spot.

Anyway, goats can be hard to contain but I really haven't had many issues with that. They do like to slip through the fence and visit the pasture neighboring their pasture, but they rarely escape-escape. I think the fact that they have 6+ acres to roam in their pasture really helps.

My mare only passed a way a few weeks ago and I've been SHOCKED at how little goats eat and at how absolutely cheap they are to own. I knew they didn't make much of a dent in my horse-budget but I had no idea of how little a dent they actually make. In the last two weeks, plus daytime pasture, they haven't even finished off two 60lb bales of hay. They legitimately eat one 3lb flake of grass hay/night [they're out on grass, foraging, all day] and they're totally happy!
And they aren't small goats. One is about 90lbs, the other is closer to 200.

But yeah, most horses need a companion or two to do well but that companion doesn't have to be nearly as large or expensive as a horse is.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

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post #3 of 10 Old 04-23-2014, 01:40 AM
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Horses definitely do better with a companion of their own kind but plenty seem to do ok alone. That said they would almost always be happier and more content with a pasture buddy - some horses never really adjust to being alone. If you really cant afford another horse then a couple of sheep can be a comfort and aren't so hard to contain as goats can be.
My gelding is currently alone while I am on the hunt for a second horse and while he can see the neighbours horses over the fence he is very vocal whenever they go out of his sight. I am tempted to move him to a paddock where he cant see them at all but would feel a bit mean doing this. I think having horses over the fence can actually be more stressful if they cant interact fully and the other horses can disappear out of view.
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-23-2014, 08:09 PM
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Location: Virginia USA
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Yes some horses do OK by themselves. But majority will get a ton of behavioral problems from it. I agree with other posts-goats make excellent companions. They are also very hardy. IMO it's better to get a companion and avoid potential problems than to go without.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-23-2014, 08:16 PM
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I would at least pick up a mini for your horse to hang out with. I have know a few people who have done this with racehorses during the off season and it works great!
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-23-2014, 08:27 PM
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Could you take on a miniature horse, mini donkey or goat? While you *can* keep horses alone, it is usually better if they have a companion. Even something like a barn cat can be better than nothing.

Journey, Spirit and Goldie...
Love is when reality is better than your dreams!
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post #7 of 10 Old 04-24-2014, 12:09 AM
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If the horse you are looking into purchasing has had contact with other horses for most of her life she should really have a companion be it another horse of even a goat or two.

Horses are herd animals and without a "herd" some horses can become withdrawn or even act very flighty.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-25-2014, 11:20 AM
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We had a few horses who were kept alone for a good while (years) and they did okay. My one horse was kept alone for 3 years before we introduced another horse. You can keep them alone but make sure you pick a horse that can be alone (some can't). Otherwise pick up a friend. Our lone horse had the barn cat lol
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-25-2014, 11:44 AM
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My first mare was just fine by herself for over a year, though the barn cat regularly curled up on her or in her feed pan. Mare did not like the goat I bought for a companion - if the goat was in the barn, the horse was outside and vice versa - so I rehomed the goat and mare was happy again.

Even after I bought a 2nd horse, original mare couldn't care less if she was ridden/trailered off solo or if the other horse was ridden/trailered leaving her home alone. The new horse would PANIC if she was left alone, however.

I do prefer young horses to have a companion so they don't seek out dangerous ways to entertain themselves, though, lol.
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-30-2014, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: San Juan Islands, Washington
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If I were to get companion(s) for her, would it be better to get them at the same time as her or to wait and see how she is being alone and then if she seems to want company then get companion(s)?

“The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
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