I don't post much, but I've recently encountered an issue that I'm not sure how to handle.
I keep my mare on (full, 2x/day feeding) field board and her herd also consists of 4 geldings. There was a second mare, but due to infirmities + age (27), the decision was made to euthanize her 2 weeks ago. One of the geldings was closely attached to the euthanized mare and now, he is becoming increasingly bonded to my mare and starting to panic when I take her away (which I do frequently as I trail ride as well as trailer out at least twice a week). He's not at all aggressive, however, gets so worked if I'm removing her that he has almost bowled me over a couple times.
My mare, BTW, doesn't really care one way or another. She'll go where ever the food is.
I tossed her out into the other field today. It's fine for the moment, but this is the diet herd (and my mare will eventually need more hay over the winter), and the field is also divided from the barn/arena by a stream. Since I come up to ride after dark, keeping her w/ that herd is not a long term solution.
Does anyone have any suggestions for managing the situation?
You are definitely going to need the help of the gelding's owner in this situation. Between the two of you there should be a good solution. Perhaps the gelding can be moved somewhere else? A horse coming into your space in a panic is not acceptable at all.
Agree that you will need to enlist the owner of the gelding...he't the one that needs work if your mare is just fine about leaving the others. Perhaps the two of you could go riding together and work on separation issues (one rides out ahead, drops behind, rides to the side, gradually increasing distances and "out of sight" time, change off so that each gets time out of sight and on their own). Does the gelding owner know that her/his horse is doing this?
I agree that you will have to get in touch with the gelding's owner. I've had two horses now that were herdbound and the first was resolved with the introduction of other horses - ie she wasn't fixated on "her friend" she just hated being left completely alone. Currently the old guy fixates on the pony but ignores the mares next door. It's kind of an interesting dynamic to watch how far and where the pony can go. If we were to introduce another horse to our herd though I don't think we'd have the problem.
Having this guy ignore the rest of his pasturemates in favor of your mare though, I've run across that once trailriding and it wasn't fun, the horse I rode had to be with his buddy and his buddy's rider and I didn't necessarily want to be together every minute of the ride. Wasn't my horse so the decision was made to just not take him on trailrides any more.
I have to point out that you aren't responsible for the gelding being stupid, you should ride as you see fit. It would be a good thing for everybody if you and the gelding's owner could come up with a plan of action so you don't get hurt by the gelding and the gelding doesn't hurt himself after you leave, but you aren't bound to never ride so you won't upset the gelding. Adding another mare might make him happy, or changing to same sex bands so he can't fixate on any mares.