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My 5y/o ottb has always been low in the pecking order and hasn’t made a friend in the 2 years i’ve had him. He now goes out with around 30 horses and has ignored every single interaction from the horses. They’ll come up to him to sniff him and he’ll walk away.
Is this normal? I can’t help but feel bad for him. It seems like all the other horses like to ‘buddy up’ but every day i’ll go out to catch him and he’s alone and far from the others.
 

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We had a mare like that - she couldn’t murder anyone because she was smallish but she kept getting herself thumped because of her domineering and arrogant attitude. She would walk across the whole field to kick a horse minding its own business - and that horse would give her a good trashing because she wouldn’t back down. We had to separate her and she was perfectly fine alone.
 

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Some OTTBs spend time in stalls when developing and don't learn proper horse etiquette. Before training they may be kept with other yearlings, and I've seen some that only know foal body language. He may not know how to communicate well with other horses.
 

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Do you have a smaller area? You could try putting him in with one or two friendly horses in a smaller area and see if that helps. I mean, if you want to try for him having friends. It kinds of sounds like he's happy the way he is, though.
 
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If the horse walks away as opposed to everyone else walking away I'd say likely the horse is fine being on the outside of the herd and happier doing his own thing. If he's not aggressive when in smaller spaces or they aren't then I wouldn't worry. Is he getting pushed off feed or out of areas with good grass? Does he appear scuffed up? Is he watching the herd like he really wants to be a part or minding his own business?

I have two that if you'd see them all in the pasture you would think outliers. One stations himself to see not just the herd but all surrounding to watch for danger. If anything enters the pasture he challenges it. Doesn't matter if turtle or squirrel, deer, coyote or bobcat. Chickens for whatever reason are allowed. My other is a loner. That has been fine for the 25 years we have had her but I am starting to worry at this point though because when she does choose to come in close (like at the round bale) or at night under the trees they push her off.
 

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He’s doing what he wants; I wouldn’t be concerned.
My Angelina was low horse on the totem pole at her former home. When I brought her home, she loved being the only horse; she was the queen bee, if you will.
When we’d ride the roads, other horses often excitedly ran up to their pasture fences, calling to her. She ignored them. My feeling was always that she was thinking , Huh! I’m a Morgan , and YOU’RE NOT! 😉
Despite what some people say, not all horses desire/ require equine companionship.
 

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One of my mares is also a loner and takes time to make friends. For the first 10 months when we moved to field DIY mixed herd of 20-ish in size, age and sex, she would keep herself to herself always separate but never far. She's a dominant mare, usually lead, but takes her time establishing herself. Last yard she had a girlfriend (they would wink at one another, be real tarts and then BOTH refuse to be caught lol) and this yard a new gelding was introduced a few months ago. They fell in love but she's still very independent and he follows her like a lost puppy. He's a good example of a poorly socialised horse and relies on my mare for protection from the bullies.

I worried for her when she was alone and honestly it showed in how she interacted with me. She was desperate for attention and I'd have to be her mutual grooming partner regularly. Since having a boyfriend she isn't as needy. She was OK as a loner but it wasn't necessarily fulfilling enough.
 

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My 5y/o ottb has always been low in the pecking order and hasn’t made a friend in the 2 years i’ve had him. He now goes out with around 30 horses and has ignored every single interaction from the horses. They’ll come up to him to sniff him and he’ll walk away.
Is this normal? I can’t help but feel bad for him. It seems like all the other horses like to ‘buddy up’ but every day i’ll go out to catch him and he’s alone and far from the others.
He sounds like my spirit animal. LOL!
Seriously though, I'm sure he's fine. Horses all have different social needs and quirks. Be grateful. He could be a herd-bound lunatic who cannot stand to be separated from other horses. That's a nightmare.
My appaloosa is very social and friendly. His BFF and only turn-out friend (there are only three horses at the barn, and the mare goes out alone) is a low on the totem pole OTTB. They get along great, but they aren't joined at the hip or anything. They share hay piles and loaf in the shade of the tree line at the back of the pasture together. But sometimes they're clear across the field from each other grazing.
It's nice. I like when horses feel confident enough to do their own thing without needing the safety of another horse. I think it's a good trait.
 

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The mare I rode in high school was a lead mare, in that she could boss anyone put near her, but she also didn’t like to socialize. She was off on her in the big allotment own most of the time, and when she came anywhere near everyone scattered. That’s how she liked it.

When I left high school and moved her different places with me people complained. She was vicious to others for the fun of it half the time. The other half she spent wandering on her own.

I adored that mare.
 
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