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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, first time posting!
I've recently gotten back into horses after a break of about 10 years. I adopted 10 days ago a 9-year-old Standardbred gelding who had been retired from racing (trotter).
All in all, I would say things are going well. I've had him out to ride about 4 times (twice on trails at the organization I adopted him from) and twice on my own at my property. I'm feeling pretty good about how things are going in that area so far, although I admittedly get a little nervous when I can feel him getting nervous/interested in the new surroundings.

My question is more related to his behavior in the field/pasture we have, and when I'm in it with him. Most of the time he's pretty chill - he continues grazing or comes up to see what I'm doing and for some pets and then he returns to whatever he's been doing. A couple of times though he seems to get ants in his pants, and he will start tearing off across the pasture, trotting, galloping, kicking, etc. and he often comes barreling right towards me. Now, he's never gotten *too close but I will admit it makes me nervous. I've always had something with me (typically my rake) and when I feel he's getting too close I'll throw my arms out and tell him "no" or "back". And he respects that and gets back.

He's the only horse currently. I do have plans to get another as a companion for him but right now it isn't in my budget or plan and most likely won't be until spring. I'm out there several hours a day with him as I work from home. His only other vice (seemingly) is that he can be mouthy. He's never bit me, but he does like to play with things (he has a jolly ball, jolly ball net, salt licks, etc).

Previously I've only ever had two or more horses so only having one has been a bit different. I'm wondering if his behavior is something I need to be concerned about or if possibly he's only wanting to play, since he has no other friends. I should note, he doesn't pin his ears, snort or anything like that when he does it - he just goes whole hog and makes me question my sanity!

Thank you for reading! I look forward to any and all advice!
 

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If I trust a horse, I don't mind them running up to me (as long as it's not muddy, LOL, I had one almost hit me when she slammed on the brakes too late in the mud, and just kept skidding). I don't know if I'd trust a horse not to run me over after 10 days.

If it's making you nervous, then pick a spot where he's not allowed to run, and enforce your "no" signal before he gets there. E.g. if he's allowed to run to you as long as he's not within 20 feet of you, then have him stop or slow at 25 or 30 feet. I think if you are consistent with this he will get it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If I trust a horse, I don't mind them running up to me (as long as it's not muddy, LOL, I had one almost hit me when she slammed on the brakes too late in the mud, and just kept skidding). I don't know if I'd trust a horse not to run me over after 10 days.

If it's making you nervous, then pick a spot where he's not allowed to run, and enforce your "no" signal before he gets there. E.g. if he's allowed to run to you as long as he's not within 20 feet of you, then have him stop or slow at 25 or 30 feet. I think if you are consistent with this he will get it.
Thank you! I feel comfortable right now asking for that space. You are correct in that at only 10 days - I don't really know this horse, no matter how comfortable I may feel. I think keeping that "safe zone" feels like the best bet.
 

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(I could be completely wrong) but maybe he’s got a lot of energy pent-up. I could definitely see him wanting to play with you like he would a friend. Maybe get him one of those big giant inflatable ball things. It might get some of his energy out if he has something to play with.( especially since he is mouthy) I also agree with setting the boundary of “you can’t do that” and “how about play with this instead.” ( because without one things could get dangerous) Hopefully you can get a companion for him next spring so he can have somebody to play with.
 

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It's perfectly ok and correct to set a boundary at which a horse must slow down when approaching you. Even stop.
I have to get my lease horse out of a field with quite a few horses in it. Most of the time this is no issue at all, but sometimes one thinks that I have a treat for him, too. Even though he is approaching me with curiosity, I do not let him proceed past a certain point.
Even a horse that is friendly and curious should not proceed to actual 'sniffing' distance without stopping to ask permission to enter your space. He should pause , with ears up and then you can walk toward him, or use your voice or body language to invite him in. I really dislike a horse that runs up to meet me with an "I own you" attitude. That is starting things off on the wrong foot, IMO.

Could you take on a goat or some other companion animal? if the horse is alone in a pasture all day, he may become exhausted from having sentry duty all the time. Could be he is fine, if he is used to being alone. maybe you could board an older horse for a companion and some cash?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It's perfectly ok and correct to set a boundary at which a horse must slow down when approaching you. Even stop.
I have to get my lease horse out of a field with quite a few horses in it. Most of the time this is no issue at all, but sometimes one thinks that I have a treat for him, too. Even though he is approaching me with curiosity, I do not let him proceed past a certain point.
Even a horse that is friendly and curious should not proceed to actual 'sniffing' distance without stopping to ask permission to enter your space. He should pause , with ears up and then you can walk toward him, or use your voice or body language to invite him in. I really dislike a horse that runs up to meet me with an "I own you" attitude. That is starting things off on the wrong foot, IMO.

Could you take on a goat or some other companion animal? if the horse is alone in a pasture all day, he may become exhausted from having sentry duty all the time. Could be he is fine, if he is used to being alone. maybe you could board an older horse for a companion and some cash?
From what I was told about his history - he wasn't kept with a certain companion or companions regularly, but he was obviously turned out daily with at least one other horse. Sounds like he was turned out from 7p to 7a and then stalled from 7a to 7p. Here he is turned out 24/7, with access to a run-in shelter.
He truly doesn't seem distressed - he tends to settle pretty quickly when I'm out there and I don't notice erratic behaviors or what I would consider signs of depression but I'm sure he would like company! When I groom him he relaxes (yawns, stretches his neck, drops his penis (sometimes)) and tries to mutually groom me, which I politely say no thank you to!
I had considered getting him a friend (equine) prior to the spring but my hesitation is twofold; I wasn't prepared financially, and I think space could be an issue. We are currently utilizing the other half of the run in for our hay storage so the available shelter size is only 12x12 - and he takes it up! Now this could be transitioned to another area - it would just require some elbow grease (which is okay).
I was hesitant about a goat only because I don't know if our fencing would keep him in (we have three strand, high tensile) and I have ZERO experience with goats. But I think you could be onto something with his exhaustion.
Fairly regularly if I stay out there with him past feeding, he will lay down and rest in his run in. I'm imagining he feels more comfortable doing so since I'm out there "keeping watch."
 

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It sounds like he has a lot of energy & just wants to play. Definitely good to have boundaries though, it sounds like he does respect you & your space. It's only been 10 days like you said, so you're both still getting to know each other & he's probably still adjusting to his new surroundings. He sounds like a happy horse! :)
He would definitely benefit from a companion of some sort though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It sounds like he has a lot of energy & just wants to play. Definitely good to have boundaries though, it sounds like he does respect you & your space. It's only been 10 days like you said, so you're both still getting to know each other & he's probably still adjusting to his new surroundings. He sounds like a happy horse! :)
He would definitely benefit from a companion of some sort though.
I think you are right about the energy. I think that me not having experience with only one horse it putting me into the "companion" category and alerting me to behaviors I haven't noticed much previously (such as the mututal grooming, etc.) I'm the companion! And since I've been without horses for about 10 years now, I'm a little bit hesitant and unsure of myself (and him). So I'm likely hyper focused on everything, trying to make sure everything is okay.
The weather here has been downright awful and so it has eliminated a lot of opportunity to work together outside. I'm trying to find ways to keep him entertained (walking the property, riding, lunging (although I think he's pretty unfamiliar with it), etc).
Most importantly, I will look into a companion of some sort. Maybe a goat really is my best option at this point, all things considered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A goat would definitely work! :) I think once you guys get to know each other more, doing some liberty work may be really fun for you both!! :)
I'm going to see how the next couple weeks go with him by himself. I do worry about the goat eating his tails, escaping, etc. And I also worry about him becoming buddy sour - I ride by myself, unless I go to local trails (and I haven't yet) and I don't want to get myself into a situation where he won't ride out by himself without major issue.
I'm not sure what liberty work is but I'm all ears!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So it's basically working with the horse at their own free will on the ground, no tack, etc. it honestly has done wonders for my mare & I, & made our bond stronger! :)
That does sound interesting. I'll have to look into it more. Unfortunately, I don't have a "working area" or round pen. Just the pasture - that's about it!
 
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