Suggestions or ideas needed ! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 04:41 PM Thread Starter
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Suggestions or ideas needed !

Bought my first horse a couple years ago and he boarded where I took (English) lessons. 5 months ago bought a 2nd horse primarily as a future companion horse and 4 months ago moved to a 4 acre property to keep them on it. They were both low on the pecking order but the companion became the dominant one. Now, when I separate the companion out so I can ride "my" horse, the companion whinnies constantly. Today when I was riding, a certain whinny spooked my mount, ( at least thats what I believe did it, we were just standing at the time although we were out of sight of the companion at the time) threw me and he ran for the barn. The companion can be stalled or separated by fence. I have not tried putting the companion in the riding area while riding..... seems like not such a good idea.
I have to think this is a fairly common problem, but dont have the advantage of having grown up around horses so I still have more to learn than most! Really appreciate all thoughts and ideas.
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post #2 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 06:14 PM
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Hi, Yes, it is common for horses to be upset when they're separated from their mates. I find, with good training & *earning* the horse's trust & respect, the one going out is fine, but the one(s) left at home get upset. It's about insecurity as they're hard wired to feel more in danger when left alone. I am assuming, on only 4 acres, you only have the 2 of them, and this didn't happen in the past because there were other horses where the companion was left?

It sounds like, *assuming* it was the 'companion' whinnying that caused your horse to do that, that he is also not happy being separated. I suspect though, it wasn't a 'spook', if the other was constantly whinnying, but a response - kind of 'I've had enough I'm going back to him'. And unfortunately for you, it worked for him, so he will try it again. So it seems that both horses need work on this 'issue'.

So, I wouldn't think stalling the companion when you take his mate away is a good move. He will very likely be far more stressed about that - not only left alone but stuck in a small, enclosed area - he will still make a noise, probably more, and he will likely come to associate being stabled with high stress/fear. Yeah, having companion loose in the arena while you're riding, esp if he's the 'dominant' of the pair, could be... tricky. Having the companion accompany you but with a fence in between, or have the companion tied close, if he's comfortable being so, should avoid/minimise either horse's stress, as they're not really separated. If this is practical - say you only ride in an arena - then this is something you can do to *manage* the problem. But it won't *fix* it, just avoid it.

The only effective way I know to get a horse more comfortable & accepting being left alone is to do lots of 'approach & retreat' so the horse learns it's no biggie he's left - it won't be long & the mate is always coming back. As for your riding horse, praps you have a great relationship & he's generally happy to go along with you, but as you were just standing around, he thought he'd 'try it on' that time. But training, working on getting him actually happy, not just resigned, about going out with you & what you want of him, will help him not want to 'duck off' on you.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #3 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 06:18 PM
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Separate them often. They just need to get used to it. Today, my daughter and I went on a trail ride and left a third horse behind by herself. She threw a hissy fit, running around like crazy and whinnying nonstop. Too bad. Luckily, our two horses were fine, and ignored her after a bit. This is common, as you say, and there is no remedy other than separating them often. Sometimes it's better to stall a horse that gets severe anxiety, but it depends on the horse. My young gelding tried to climb out of his stall when I tried to do that with him.

You need to work on getting the horse you're riding to focus on you instead of the other horse. Keep him busy, engage his mind, make him do stuff so he's having to focus on you. If he calms down, then let him relax a bit, but if he starts focusing on the other horse again, get him thinking about you. Lots of transitions, halts, circles, side-passes. What I've also done with my two trail horses is take them far away from the barn to a big field with lots of green grass, dismount, and let them eat for a while. You better believe the next time I headed out on a trail, they were happy to go! They have excellent memories for things like that - it's how they survive in the wild. I dismount because I don't want them to ever think it's ok to eat when I'm on their backs, and I don't do it every time, or in the same field when I do, but they forget about their friends pretty fast when they have a mouthful of fresh grass to eat.
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post #4 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 06:20 PM
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Also thought I'd add that you could give the horse you leave behind some hay to keep them busy. For some horses, even that won't work, but for others, it might be enough to help them forget about the fact that they're alone.
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post #5 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
So, I wouldn't think stalling the companion when you take his mate away is a good move. He will very likely be far more stressed about that - not only left alone but stuck in a small, enclosed area - he will still make a noise, probably more, and he will likely come to associate being stabled with high stress/fear. . .
It does depend on the horse. My husband trailers his horse off to ride, and my horse gets to stay home and whinny pitifully. She seems calmer & quieter in the stall with a hay net than out in the pasture, so while she was getting used to his absences we would put her there. But that was based on her observed behavior, stall vs. pasture, not going by a hard-and-fast rule. I assume her preference is based on previous experiences, which I can know nothing about, and her personalilty.

(Now she seems fine out in pasture, out grazing while he's gone instead of standing at the gate whinnying as she used to.)

And I'm home with her to observe her behavior - I'm not sure the OP has someone to do that for her. Because as AcadianArtist pointed out, you can't depend on sane behavior in the stall any more than in pasture.

Do NOT have the horse with you loose while you're riding. Early in my horse riding career my mother rode her horse out into the pasture where my first horse was (can't remember why), and my horse kicked at Mom's horse and got Mom's ankle - broke it. We all learned a lesson from that one!
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post #6 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 07:12 PM
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The horses are bonded and accustomed to being together...anxiety sets in when they are taken away from each other.
My own will do this...months of every single ride my husband endured listening and watching my one horse left home yell and pace unrelentingly when we trailered away for lessons...
Know what...same horse also now whinnies goodbye and is waiting, watching when we come home from our ride...calm and quiet.

Same horse has learned from time again and again and again his buddy returns home in a bit of time.
I do leave him hay to eat, all by himself he not have to fight to get his share...and he now knows that too...so he eats the entire time we are gone.
Often he whinnies goodbye and by the time I have pulled away from the barn he is already chowing down...no fuss.

I would not under any circumstance allow the horse in your riding area loose.
Even tied without you being their to steady him if he acts up it could be a disaster in the making.
Stall him, yup darn right or would make sure your stall walls & fences are high and secure.
Expect a mess from agitation in the stall or area where you leave one behind...

For me, the very best thing I did was take my riding horse away, out of hearing and we rode together as a team.
I would do the same with my other horse often left behind...ride him away, out of hearing and they rode better and listened, not so distracted.
But you need to go, for me.. trailered and gone miles away worked best.
Even today, if I ride at home my horse is distracted and will act out till he is shown I'm not taking his nonsense...yup he gets worked and yes, sometimes he gets cracked when he "attitudes" me with a buck or kick-out of displeasure...he meets my displeasure in return instantly.
Do be careful when working this...it is called buddy sour.
I would try riding with a fence between, in a stall for the one...but a barrier in place but the agitated one can see.
Over days, weeks of riding you go further away but always come back...think like a yo-yo..
Go away and come back,...go a bit further and come back...further again and come back...
Over time you will be able to go further and not return quite so fast and the screaming, the agitation will be reduced for both animals.
Learn to read your horse and their anxiety level...
You decide when to come back and reduce the anxiety level, you are the boss.

The other piece, option of that is get a 3rd animal, a true companion pony, mini, donkey or another horse...
If you ride off on one animal and leave 2 still together the anxiety should, should be gone/lessened...but nothing is a definite that it will work.
Sometimes, when all else fails you have to sell the one with the anxiety and can't handle being left behind they get so soured to being never out of the others sight..........
I too have had to do that cause the one left behind was dangerous, seriously so.
The horse does just fine in a boarding barn situation but in my yard was a disaster when was left behind...
In my desperation that horse learned to pony...another thing you can do...take them with you but you need to learn how to safely pony and be a rider able to handle 2 horses at one time by yourself.

Do be safe when trying to find a solution.
Ride in sight of but not with the other horse loose in your space.
Try to keep your horses attention on you, keep their mind and feet busy.
Your mount will stress hearing the commotion so read the body and do what you must to ride and accomplish your goals...but always end on a positive that you decide not because the horse dumps you...actually if you get dumped you must get back on and work till you call end of riding session, not the horse.
Horses learn a habit, good or bad, when they successfully accomplish it 3x...
Strike 1 when you got dumped...
Be careful you not repeat...
Be safe...
...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #7 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 07:36 PM
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This is why I always advise folks to have one horse or at least three. Only two usually means trouble, especially if they are the same gender.

My horses are used to going in their stalls and getting hay while the other one is worked. The horses quickly learn that it is good to be in their stall. Full horses are less nervous horses.

Sometimes the one getting worked starts wanting to go back to the stall...this is highly discouraged by lots of praise and treats for good behavior, while also working hard and keeping their mind busy.

As an option, some horses will bond with a substitute like a goat.

Another option is to learn how to pony a horse and work both of them.
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post #8 of 19 Old 11-16-2019, 10:21 PM
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@AnitaAnne
said it; one horse or three (animals), and get good things associated with being separated off.


Would a companion goat work for your property?
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post #9 of 19 Old 11-17-2019, 09:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
@AnitaAnne
said it; one horse or three (animals), and get good things associated with being separated off.


Would a companion goat work for your property?

Wonder what rate a goat consumes pasture compared to a horse?
A third horse is probly too much for my property.
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post #10 of 19 Old 11-17-2019, 10:23 AM
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Goats eat near non-stop same as a horse...they also love to eat weeds and plants a horse won't.
If you get a goat, caution on horns, they can and do inflict damage to horses and they also can get hooked and caught on vegetation and fences needing freeing by you.
Also, get a female or altered male...intact males stink!!!
Pitfalls are often chewed tails and anything hanging or left around is chewed on and often ruined by goat teeth.

My neighbor has female goats only...
6 goats on about an acre of land...they have yet to eat it down to nothing in grass but she has thick, thick pasture grass.
Goats do still take $$ to properly care for.
If the animal needs feed, they need specific for goats feed and horses need to not eat it either!
Wormer, hooves trimmed, exercise and things to climb on makes them happy...down tree in their field she uses.
A shelter they do seek when weather is cold and wet, hot and humid...
And remember, not all goats are horse friendly and not all horses are goat friendly either...
...
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The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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