I do not know of any good long-term or survey-type research studies that identify specific widespread health or behavior problems in horses living completely alone for a long time. A horse with a temperament suitable to living alone is a good start.
Then, I would try to meet all the other behavior needs: full time or majority time turnout, ad lib forages, and plenty of interactions with humans or even other animal species (goat or chicken buddies can work well). Studies have shown, not surprisingly, that horses taken from a group into an isolated environment for hours or days tend to show changes in stress hormones such as cortisol, and exhibit stress behaviors such as sweating, restlessness, and locomotive stereotypes like fence pacing.
Dr. Daniel Mills, professor of veterinary medicine behavior at Lincoln University in the United Kingdom, and his co-workers did some great research on weaving in horses kept in box stalls visually isolated from other horses. Weaving could be greatly reduced by placing a mirror in the stall.
Horses have been selected and bred for behavior traits desirable for close human contact and for a variety of careers. Though we may strive to meet all of our horses natural behavior needs, rarely do we achieve that. Being confined in stalls for any period of a day, limited feeding, frequently changing groupings at pasture, and forced exercise are all unnatural to the horse.
Like equestrians everywhere, we began to cut back on tack, then training fees and finally on the size of our herds. But it may, in fact, be the only option for equestrians today faced with less money, less space and less time to spend on their horses.
My riding partner Linda discovered as much when the horse she boarded on her property went away for several weeks of training. Bella was perfectly content in her pasture by herself with only the occasional glimpse of the neighbor's horses across the fence.
We all noticed the change in the mare immediately, and it wasn't long before Linda decided to make the new living arrangement permanent. When Julie purchased a Pony of the Americas (POA) mare, she figured her new horse would do fine as a pampered only equine.
The mare stopped eating and whinnied constantly, ultimately pawing a man-size hole through the bottom of her stall. Afraid that her new pony would become ill or injure herself, Julie eventually sold her to a family that had several horses.
Some horses are just not cut out to live alone, says equine behaviorist Bonnie V. Beaver, BS, DVD, MS, DNAP, Dave, a professor at Texas A&M University. Others simply live in worried silence, possibly developing behavioral quirks or physical problems such as ulcers.
If, on the other hand, he is anxious to join up with other horses and refuses to depart from a riding group, he may not be able to cope with being alone in a pasture for days on end. Horses who stand their ground rather than run to the herd for assurance are generally more self-assured by nature and are more apt to have the coping skills to be on their own.
When I began my search for an only horse to live on my small lot, I was introduced to a sorrel gelding who obviously had an independent streak. I was told he preferred people to horses, even though he'd spent most of his years on the ranch as part of a large herd.
Louie didn't disappoint when I brought him home: From day one, he seemed perfectly content as the only horse on the property. To this day, he hasn't so much as whinnied to the horses two lots over, although he will occasionally greet them with indifference when they are turned out into the adjoining pasture to graze.
I suspect his formative years at the racetrack, where he was kept in a stall on the backstretch, prepared him for life alone on my property. Each was eating and drinking, seemed alert but not overly worried about his surroundings, and as far as I could tell, exhibited the same pattern of behavior as usual.
Providing a safe environment A horse's surroundings have a strong influence on whether he feels comfortable alone. “The safety factor in the herd is most significant when there is potential danger or when moving into unfamiliar environments.
If there is an established paddock, barn or pasture that the horse is used to, then there is a security going with the location as well,” explains Beaver. The survival of the equine species over the eons depended on this ability to assess dangers in the environment.
The good news is that this desire for security can help keep the peace in otherwise challenging situations, such as when a pasture mate moves away or dies. I've noticed that Louie will often lie down to snooze in the sun, but always on the side of the paddock closest to the neighboring horses, even though they are some distance away.
It's reasonable to assume that he is not too concerned a lion could pounce on him at any moment while he dozes because he is confident the neighboring horses are keeping watch, even if they are several hundred feet across the fence line. Every herd needs a leader To help a horse adapt to solitary life requires that you provide him with some social support.
Within a few months, our relationship had soured to the point that I decided I could no longer earn his trust back and sold him to someone who could. Every 4th of July, for example, I park my lawn chair next to Louie's stall to assume my role as the lead mare, hopefully providing that calming influence he needs just in case the fireworks upset him.
They make a point of greeting each other by touching noses across the fence, although any sort of withers nibbling is out of the question as far as the goat is concerned. In fact, the goat appears downright puzzled by Louie's gelding antics, and therefore probably fails any sort of test that might endear Louie to him as a source of safety during those scary times when the neighbor's boys are wildly chasing each other around the adjoining backyard.
Donkeys are a good alternative because, as fellow equines, they can mimic the horse-to-horse relationships that a herd otherwise provides. These equines are easy keepers, too, although I'm told that their hooves do need to be trimmed regularly by a farrier who understands them, and they can get laminates if fed hay that is too rich.
Nonetheless, there are plenty of examples of horses budding up to chickens, cats, rabbits and other unlikely companions. The best equine companions sometimes just happen along, as Rosa Lee, another member of our small riding group, discovered.
You may find this arrangement isolating, particularly if you leave a busy barn to take up housekeeping on your own property. I found a small band of horse enthusiasts close by, and they've been a continual source of inspiration, instruction and friendship ever since.
My horse community is a support network I wouldn't want to do without as a single-horse owner, knowing that I can call on any one of these kindred spirits to share information and resources during good times and bad Whereas one in the group may have an especially nice riding arena, another may have a trailer that can comfortably haul long distances.
There are several nearby arenas where we can ride for free or are available to riders for a small annual membership fee. While keeping a horse alone is not ideal, many owners (including myself) have found themselves in a situation where it’s the most practical and economical solution.
Here’s some helpful tips and strategies for keeping a solo horse happy and healthy: If another horse is not possible, there are other animals that make suitable pasture mates such as donkeys, sheep, cows, goats, llamas and alpacas.
Keep in mind that they often have different feed or shelter requirements which may make their care more difficult. For those who don’t have access to year round grass, feeding hay several times a day can help mimic this behavior.
If you’re curious (or in a hurry): This specific brand of Slow Feeder Hay Net is most popular with my readers. A few minutes of attention or a quick grooming session will always be appreciated and the more time you can spend with them the better.
Horses are herd animals, they need to be in group settings where they can socialize with their own kind *gosh that sounds weird when I read it back to myself×Yes, they go through depression when they bond with a buddy and get taken away from them. It works good for training them, they have there attention more on you and they also listen better and “lean” on you more, but also it can have its draw backs.
As long as you've got some kind of other herd animal such as a sheep or goat etc. In there with them, they'll often bond to the other animal and be perfectly happy.
After the death of my boarders horse, my mare got very clingy to me and I could barely leave the barn without her neighing for me. So I got Dixie to keep her company. Now that Dixie is sick and has to stay in the barn, Andy is doing well outside as an only horse.
So I guess it depends on the horse and the circumstance. It's like he lost his horsey communication skills for a few years.
I would do everything in my power to give my horse a friend if she was alone .... even if it was a goat. Even if you consider yourself their herd mate, they need constant contact, so if you can't be with them every minute they'll need a companion and if you want a horse who doesn't tank he is a goat id advise you to keep another horse... that said I know for economic reasons most people nowadays have trouble keeping more than one, in that case just try to keep him with stall toys or a companion animal, nothing substitutes another horse, but any contact is better than none...
I would do everything in my power to give my horse a friend if she was alone .... even if it was a goat. I would look at a small pony as a friend, doesn't eat much, needs only a small pen when in the barn,keeps your guy company and doesn't eat tails. The get your goat” comes from a horse story.
A goat was often kept as a friend for a high-strung race horse. Before a big race if a competitor could steal your goat the horse would have a bad night, be very upset and not in racing form the next day.
Sometimes the neighbor's take their horses trail riding for the day but Lily couldn't care less. A week or so ago I was on my way to see her and I saw the neighbors pulling into their driveway with their horse trailer.
I was thinking I wouldn't be able to ride because she is probably dripping with sweat from running the fence and yelling for her buddies. We got to the barn the same time as the neighbors, and they were putting their horses in the pasture.
One thing we have done to help her with the transition is to spend a lot of time with her. We have had picnics next to her paddock, read books next to her stall, lots of hand grazing, groundwork, grooming, riding, etc.
Yes, they're herd animals, but it won't kill them to be by themselves. It typically creates a better bond between horse and owner.
I have been on both sides of the fence on this one; with some horses, it is better to have some sort of companion. I would look at a small pony as a friend, doesn't eat much, needs only a small pen when in the barn,keeps your guy company and doesn't eat tails. The get your goat” comes from a horse story.
A goat was often kept as a friend for a high-strung race horse. Before a big race if a competitor could steal your goat the horse would have a bad night, be very upset and not in racing form the next day.
Stealing a goat was not a big deal by itself but what it did to the horse was worth a lot so the expression get your goat was born. I agree with Rios dad on this one, horses are herd animals, but that doesn't mean he won't do fine without another around.
What I feel you should consider is that he's already created a bond with another horse, and by splitting them up... it might cause “depression” in your gelding My two horses are separated from each other (I'm trying to halter train the weaning) but they get to see each other.
I would never keep a horse alone, my horses buddy went to work with his owner for Tuesday Wednesday and all of Thursday, and all cutter did those 3 days was call for his buddy and pace the sides of his paddock. I would never keep a horse alone, my horses buddy went to work with his owner for Tuesday Wednesday and all of Thursday, and all cutter did those 3 days was call for his buddy and pace the sides of his paddock.
The weird thing is, my horse was gelded at age 9 is very territorial, HATES other horses (will literally chase them) but he just loves Jesse. Living as part of a herd has many advantages for horses such as ‘safety in numbers’.
When not eating or sleeping horses carry out many other social behaviors termed ‘loafing’. Loafing includes activities such as mutual grooming and playing.
It is also a way of maintaining bonds among herd members. In cold, wet weather horses will stand in a sheltered spot together because their large bodies help to keep each other warm.
Domestic horses have the same instincts and behave in much the same way that their free living cousins, therefore if we ignore these facts about their natural behavior we can cause them to be stressed. Their instincts tell them that there are predators lurking around every corner and therefore they still feel much safer in a herd than alone.
For example sheep and cows are ruminant animals which means that they eat more quickly than a horse and then spend more time laying down ruminating, whereas horses spend longer grazing and digest their food whilst grazing. If horses are separated by fences into individual paddocks they can still become stressed and will often suffer from fence injuries in their attempts to interact with other horses.
Keeping horses in ‘herds’ will give them the companionship they need and also allows you to manage your pasture better because then paddocks can be rested for periods between grazing periods which allows the pasture to re-grow. Horses can be separated into individual yards or stables for the short time that it takes to eat any supplementary feed both for their safety and the safety of handlers.
My neighbors are complaining that the area where she walks is getting to be just dirt, and when it rains it will wash away the fence. It is possible for the ground to wear down on your side of the fence as the rain washes down a narrow path.
Another treatment could be to add some Bach Flowers, which are gentle remedies that help with emotional states. Add 10 drops to her water bucket or tub each time you fill it.
As she paces up and down the fence, turning a sharp corner at either end of the paddock, she is constantly twisting her joints. Some of these types of lameness es can be difficult to treat, especially if she continues to walk the fence.
And finally, horses under chronic stress and loneliness can develop ulcers. Some horses with ulcers have few symptoms except perhaps the bad attitude or a reluctance to work.
I'm guessing there're no predators where you will be boarding her...so she'll be fine, it will be a good time to get her to bond with you, just make sure you maintain the “leader” position. If you are really worried and are in a financial pinch, then a lot of people have used goats to keep stabled horses from “losing their minds” with loneliness. I would get a nanny, billy goats are SSOOO stinky.
I bet a cat would even work if it hung around + you would be keeping barn mice down at the same time. However, keeping them alone will not affect their medical health, it could put pressure on their emotional state, almost like humans.
Personally, I would suggest a goat because of how low cost they are to feed, and to purchase initially. I promise you that you will find an extremely cheap goat that will give your horse perfect company.
Getting a goat, duck, chicken, pig, pony, or other animal is important. It shouldn't affect his health too much since you said he's not too social, my mare was social and had to be moved because of an injury, and she just acted little more happy for attention, and got a bit moody, so his attitude might change a little, such as being happier to see you or little things like that.
Maybe to keep him from getting too lonely you could take him for a ride with one of his horsey buddies(if possible) every once in a while, my horse loved to see her friends every once in a while, although it might not be a wonderful Idea if you have an electric fence or something he might try to get out of to go hang out with the other horses. My horse is going to be 15 May 11th,he has been alone since he was 6 months, i guess it depends on how your horse was raised if he will adjust well or not.getting a barn cat or some other animal should help .my horse is taken care of daily and sometimes I think he thinks he is human, he knows all kinds of tricks, and he plays Frisbee.my friends hat blew off his head and my horse ran up to it picked it up and brought it to him.he's very smart and I think it's because he has been alone ...he gets ALL the attention.
And they horses seem to like the goats, or get a dog keep him in the pen, or a sheep, or a pony, a llama, or something like that. It's not mentally healthy for a horse to live alone, and a goat doesn't cost anything.
They eat grass and you can throw them a handful of grain sometimes if you feel like it. This will force him to bond with you more because of the herd instinct... as long as he gets some attention, he should be fine.
This situation can work as long as you take some steps to give your horse companionship and entertainment. One of the best ways to keep your horse happy when he has to live alone is to provide him with a companion animal.
Goats are very popular as companion animals for horses. Consider providing your horse with various stall toys to keep him entertained.
Try to spread your horse’s feed out in different areas of the pasture so that he has to walk around as he eats his hay throughout the day. Be sure to spend plenty of time currying your horse, which closely resembles the feel of mutual grooming.
Playing a radio softly in your barn can help to break up the silence during the day. Even if you can’t ride your horse, you can still do activities like groundwork and hand walking.
But he wasn't doing great, yes he ate, drank and got along ok, but he was overweight, kinda depressed, and quite a brat under saddle and on the ground. His attitude totally changed, and he lost a lot of weight.
If you only have 1 1/2 acres, you really wouldn't have room for two full-grown large horses. A pony/mini/goat/ or other companion is a great idea, just make sure the horse likes it (Some don't get along to well with small animals).
As long as you groom/play/ride with the horse and don't just leave him sitting out in the pasture, he'd probably do great. If you decide to buy two or more horses and don't want to keep them on your property, see if where your daughter takes lessons will board them.
That it be a gelding (mares can be temperamental along with stallions) and 2. That you ask the seller if you can do a trial. She has a gentle and very quiet temperament and has taken well to time spent away from other horses.
It has made it easy for me when she is placed around other horses on rides as she is not bothered if we take another direction and leave the group behind. I have found that the bond between us is stronger because she looks to me for support and reassurance.
If you have the time to spend and the inclination there is no reason why a horse would not settle in the situation that you have provided. You may wish to look at other breeds(although I highly recommend the quarter horse and their temperament, they are a good all-rounder), but your choice of horse would do best to be chosen based on what your daughter's capabilities are and in what areas she intends pursuing.
Before we bought the place we are at now we only had my daughters barrel horse, and he did just fine. The kids made time for him every day between riding, grooming and my daughter would just sit in the stall with him at night and tell him about her day, the horse was and still is her best friend.
We didn't have any other livestock just him we did however have a border collie and at night he slept in the shelter with the horse. Good luck to you, your daughter will love you forever for the horse and as have found with our kids it is a great way for them to learn responsibility.
Horses by nature are herd animals, but they have been brought into civilization and many do not anymore. If unable to ride, brushing is a good form of companionship.
1 and a half acres isn't very much land to keep two horses on but as long as they're exercised everyday they will be fine. Horses are just like humans You can live alone and be visited by a friend every day and be happy right.
Even though horses have long been domesticated, their original natural instincts for companionship and a herd mentality are hardwired into their makeup. Just as you learn to read your horse’s body language and expression for signs of pain, confusion, anger and so on, you can also learn to read when a horse is exhibiting the quieter signs of feeling lonely.
Also, just like humans, a common symptom of depression is becoming withdrawn, uninterested or unaware in situations around them. The horses that were not perceived to be lonely and depressed reacted with interest, curiosity or even trepidation.
Their ears pricked up, their heads turned to the sound, they licked their lips in concentration on the new thing. Their heads and necks will remain fixed, and their eyes tend to be open, but wide and unfocused, with a long time between blinks.
If your horse constantly paces back and forth at the fence line, that is an important sign of loneliness. Pacing puts extra strain on a horse’s legs, which can lead to joint and tendon damage caused by repetitive motion.
Another risk is ringtone (a type of arthritis in the horse’s lower leg), as constant turning strains the joints. Your horse may not be strictly pacing in a “back and forth at the fence line” sense, but it could be just generally restless.
While loneliness isn’t a direct physical threat, it still triggers the stress of the “fight or flight” reaction, which dampens the appetite and heightens the horse’s state of alert. You may notice your horse kicking at the stall because they have pent-up social energy with nowhere and no one to spend it on.
Adopting a senior horse as a pasture pal not only keeps your current horse happy with a friend, but it gives a deserving older equine a loving home to live out the rest of their years.