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View Full Version : New horse -- how long to join herd?



Bacchus
May. 5, 2009, 11:42 AM
Introduced the new gelding to the herd (two geldings and a mare) and all went fine. However, the two geldings will not let the new guy "join" them. They chase him away when he tries to get near the girls across the fence or near the mare in their herd. Sometimes they let the new guy and the mare nuzzle, graze together, etc., but not often.

How long until they let him join, if ever? Should I buddy him up with gelding No. 2 in a separate field for a week or two, or just let nature run its course? (Doesn't seem as if buddying him up with the mare in a separate field would change much, but let me know if that's a better idea. She's No. 3 in the herd.)

I hadn't considered buddying him with gelding No. 1, but is that an option?

It's been only about eight days. How long should I give them?

BuddyRoo
May. 5, 2009, 12:03 PM
Every time you pair different sets of horses up, you're changing the "herd". Two horses that get along well on their own may not accept each other once they're introduced into the larger herd...the dynamic shifts.

So....IMHO, I'd leave it as is and give it more time. I have certainly met a handful of horses who just did not fit in or could not be turned out with others--either because they were too aggressive or too submissive.

But generally speaking, within a month or so they have it sorted out. A week just isn't that long. As long as he can get away from them and thus is not at risk of being injured, I'd just watch and wait.

That's just me though.

MoonWitch
May. 5, 2009, 01:49 PM
It can take from one to three months for a herd to re-establish the pecking order. Just like people, some horses will just never get to be friends, but will co-exist peacefully enough. If no one is coming in beaten up, why not just leave them to their own? They do just fine without our interference and will work things out in their own time/way. I have four herds that are arranged by personality. When I introduce a new horse, it's after they have been allowed to greet over a fence for a few days to a week; depending on the personalities.

I'd say give it time! You can't choose their friends any more than you can for your kids.

busterwells
May. 5, 2009, 02:11 PM
It can take from one to three months for a herd to re-establish the pecking order. Just like people, some horses will just never get to be friends, but will co-exist peacefully enough. If no one is coming in beaten up, why not just leave them to their own? They do just fine without our interference and will work things out in their own time/way. I have four herds that are arranged by personality. When I introduce a new horse, it's after they have been allowed to greet over a fence for a few days to a week; depending on the personalities.

I'd say give it time! You can't choose their friends any more than you can for your kids.

I totally agree. This is just something that takes time and have watched this at our stables over and over again. It does not help to separate this horse with another horse if they are going to all be together eventually. They will work it out on their own. Some horses just take longer than others depending on the personalities of the horses in the pasture. We have had some horses that only take a few days to a week to settle in and one time it took almost 4 months for one of our geldings to finally fit in with the herd. This is just a natural process that they must go through.

walkinthewalk
May. 5, 2009, 02:33 PM
It depends on how the lead horse "takes" to the new one.

I had one horse that it took 3 months before I felt safe in letting him out all day.

Another new horse was "good to go" after only 3 DAYS!

It's just whatever personality conflicts the Alpha Horse and the new horse do or don't have that we don't understand:confused:

Seven-up
May. 5, 2009, 04:30 PM
Well, I've had my horse here for 5 months, and the other 2 still don't like her. They tolerate her, but there's no love for the newbie.


All mares, though. You might have better results if you could split them up somehow. Your old geldings are protecting "their" mare from the new guy. I have no problem with mares and geldings together, but sometimes the boys can get territorial even though they no longer have their "boys.":winkgrin:

walkinthewalk
May. 5, 2009, 05:38 PM
Well, I've had my horse here for 5 months, and the other 2 still don't like her. They tolerate her, but there's no love for the newbie.


All mares, though. You might have better results if you could split them up somehow. Your old geldings are protecting "their" mare from the new guy. I have no problem with mares and geldings together, but sometimes the boys can get territorial even though they no longer have their "boys.":winkgrin:

That is true.

I should have added that I have all geldings. The youngest of my first three geldings joined the group 12+ years ago; the original two having been Best Buds for 16 years. It's tough for a newbie to break into their little clique, which is why I was really surprised the last horse was getting along famously with everyone after only 3 days:confused:

Seven-up
May. 5, 2009, 05:52 PM
Haha, "clique" is so right! You can practically hear the whispers between my two mares that have been together 4 years.

"OMG, what is she wearing?"

"That's nothing. You should have seen her come try to take a bite of my hay. She wanted to share."

"As if! She looks like a giraffe. I heard she's a....*gasp*...Thoroughbred. Can you imagine?":rolleyes:



What's strange is my alpha mare is mostly indifferent to her. It's 2nd in command who's such a bitch. She chases my horse every chance she gets. Apparently it's not enough to be higher up on the totem pole. #2 wants to make it clear that she thinks #3 is stoooopid and ugly and smells funny. And #1 & #2 never changed spots, #1 has always been the boss. I guess #2 is happy because she finally has someone to push around.

Pally
May. 5, 2009, 11:00 PM
So long as everyone is able to access hay/grass and water, and no one is getting beaten or chased to the point of injury, I would just leave them together. They may end up getting along famously with more time, or they may always be a little standoffish, but still a functional and safe herd (just like some families, haha)

If they are making more serious trouble, then yes try shifting and regrouping. But it is hard for us to say, 'just remove #___ in the pecking order and all will be well' as the order is not static and can sometimes change drastically in a regrouping. For example, some horses will end up way down in the order because #1 is buddies with another crew and they rule, but take out #1, and that #4 is suddenly the new boss. Or like 7-up says, her #2 is nasty to #3...just really wants to boss someone but #1 is immoveable, but maybe put someone new in there, and #2 goes back to last because new gal protects old #3. Just pretend they are teenage girls.

Bacchus
May. 6, 2009, 10:37 AM
Nobody is getting hurt and they really just leave each other alone. I feel kind of sorry for the new guy. It's even as if the girls over the fence know to stay away from him.

However, he must be happier to at least be out with other horses all day. He came from a show barn where he was in a stall during the day and out alone at night. He probably doesn't really know what to do in a herd, anyway.

I think they will work it out, and I'm just going to leave them alone. He's eating and healthy. The only change I've made is to close off the stalls so that he can't get trapped -- not that my horses have EVER gone in a stall on their own;)

Thanks, everyone.

(If they were like my human family, I'd just ply them all with alcohol and they'd get along swell!)

MoonWitch
May. 6, 2009, 01:46 PM
It's funny that this came up, as I am/or was until yesterday - in the process of introducing a dominant gelding into my one field (all geldings). Guess he had had enough of the paddock next to the field and decided to bust through and join the herd. Well, they're fine! Everyone is grazing peacefully - even after the first few days of fence fighting and screaming.

The trick is to have enough room for them all to get away from each other if they're getting on each other's nerves. Let 'em go to the other end of the pasture for some "alone" time. They don't need to be right up each other's butts (disclaimer - my TB DOES) to be happy - just in close proximity to feel safe. Hang in there!

cutemudhorse
May. 6, 2009, 07:51 PM
I agree. They'll work it out, eventually, one way or the other. . .
As long as no one's actually getting beat up (occasional minor battle wounds don't count as long as they can get away from the aggressor like they're supposed to) and they have more than enough space to play herd games. . .