When my neighbors moved in with their three pot bellies and a he-man goat, their fencing wasn't quite right. Those stupid pigs and got decided they LOVED my horses. My horses decided that Satan had invaded their pasture! And the little devils visited repeatedly until I got just a bit ugly with the neighbors about their fencing.
So far I haven't had a problem riding by their place. It will be interesting if the pigs are ever down by the fence line. I don't really mind the pigs but oh my god, that goat STINKS! His aroma lasted well after he left my property.
My b/o has had 2 pot-bellied pigs over the years. There is only one horse I can remember who really never got used to them; a nice little QH gelding in his 20s that never got used to them. Tulip was the first pig, pink and quite large, and all of the horses were fine except that one gelding. Tulip died before her time, but a friend of the b/o who felt we should not be pig-less bought a Rico, a little tiny black baby with white feet who came to us in a milk crate. He also grew quite large. Unfortunately that little gelding couldn't get used to the pig. He was in his late 20s and was put down a couple of years ago. We are now a pig-less barn, and also no longer have goats, although they never seemed to bother anyone but the humans.
None of the horses at my barn seem to have an issue with my piglet, however after reading this post I will do my best to leave her at home when we have a show, just in case, I would hate to have someone get hurt because their horse had an issue. On a more related note, my big guy hates water fowl, hates them, will try to run from, attack them, forgets he is on a line, you get the picture. He is much better now after some tough love. We started with a plastic lawn duck, I think I went through 4 before he stopped killing them, then we moved on the the real thing, fortunetly the barn had a couple of big white ducks. I would carry Fred (duck) and hand graze Hogan (horse). He no longer has issues with the ducks and geese, doesn't like the crane, but I don't feel like I will die if he comes and visits.
I'm a great believer in getting horses used to other farm animals. I haven't had pigs around here, but have had cows and OTTBs that thought they were horrible...the last one took a summer to get used to them. He was bad enough that I couldn't ride down a road toward home because a cow was in a field on the other side of a tree-line and stone wall! That finished it; I'd had it, so I turned him out with the cow. He thought I was excessively cruel, I am sure, but he learned to deal with it. Another one I had that was really bad with cows I turned out in a big field with cattle...he spent a week hanging in one corner as far away from them as he could get--he ate everything there, and eventually got hungry enough that he ventured into the field to eat, and got over his cow phobia. So, yes, it can be done--usually involves time.
There will always be a horse that does not get over it. The more they see & smell the animal in question the more chance they will get over it. Honestly chicken fear lol that must have been some weird experience to cause that. I know of a person with a real fear of birds caused by chickens.
We regularly trail ride by a house with pigs, and my gelding flips his lid every time. I'm seriously contemplating offering my friend to board his freezer pig next summer in a fenced in area right in the middle of my horse pasture.
"If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."
Gnalli from here on COTH will tell you that some just never ever adjust to Swine. Her racking pony came 100% totally unglued over a resident pig. No matter what they did or how they tried to densitize him to it, he'd totally freak... to the point where he was dangerous.
I was just about to post this, lol. This horse is pretty bomb proof, but it took 3 of us to unsaddle him in a round pen one day and that was when he saw a pig. FOr a year after the pig left, I could not stable him on that side of the barn, and the washrack where he could see the pig pen was a no go. It was awful.
We won't even say the word around him just to be on the safe side, lol.
I have several pet potbelly pigs and horses on my horse farm. All of the horses on my farm are now used to pigs. If a horse has never seen a pig of course it's going to "freak out" the first time it sees one. They don't know what it is and it's their natural instinct to fear the unknown. The amount of time it takes for your horse to get used to a pig depends on your horse. If it's a random pig that appears on your property your horse may never get used to it. If it has time to spend with the pig on a regular basis or a pig that lives on the farm with it, in my experience, the horse will eventually accept the pig. I have one horse that was convinced one of the pigs was it's "baby" (old Brood Mare) it was love at first sight and with in minutes adopted the pig and they are almost inseparable. I have another horse who took 3 days of snorting and but is now completely un-phased. That said, I do not advocate letting your pigs run loose with your horses. A horse could easily kill a pig and a horse reacting to a pig could hurt it self or a human that's near it. At my farm, I have "pig paddocks" and "horse paddocks" some horse paddocks share fence lines with the pig paddocks. This gives the horses a choice they can go meet the pigs or they can fine another spot in their big paddock and be completely out of site of them. Hope that helps.
Haven't read through the whole post, but will say this: the pig at the farm next door killed three calves last year - began eating one while it was still alive. Yes, Truffles is tiny, but pigs can be dangerous, and perhaps your horse knows this.
I was driving to work the other day and on the other side of the road was what I thought was a VERY fat black dog (my eyes aren't great). Got closer, it was a pot belly just hoofing it down the side of a very busy US Hwy. Weird.
I can't speak specifically to the issue of pigs, but IME the best way to introduce new livestock to horses that might be afraid is to enlist the help of a horse that isn't afraid of the livestock in question. For example, a horse that might be afraid of sheep will generally accept them quickly (if not immediately) if they see another horse or two out relaxing with or near the flock. I also think it helps if a horse can smell the animal first and get acclimated to its smell before actually seeing it. I think as a safety thing it is very healthy for horses to be well acclimated to different livestock, farm machinery, various noises, kids, etc. even if it is difficult at first. IME, the more things you acclimate your horse to, the better they get at dealing with new experiences and circumstances. All this having been said, I think that once a horse reaches the "freak out" point over an introduction, it can be difficult to undo that reaction.
Not quite as extreme but similar- My ugly old super-alpha-seen-everything paint mare freaked when we acquired a mini pot belly. Porter the pig couldn't care less, but Lady was not entertained. Same charades- running around like an idiot, freaking out when approached, etc. Way to go, big bold alpha .
I'm a firm believer in the "we will get the hell over this.. and now" attitude, so I turned piggo out into her pasture with her herd and lunged Lady around him while the rest of the horses and boarders watched in confusion. Took some time and daily leash walks along the fence line, but she got 90% over it. Granted Lady is just a backyard pasture pet and no expensive show pony, so if it got to the point of potential self injury with no temperamental improvement, I'd call it a day after a month or so.
In general my horses dont care for pigs, but they dont freak out. My alpha mare however HATES bears, to the point if one comes into her pasture she will attack it and chase it out. One bear did considerable damage to the fence in several places just trying to get away from her. And they do say pigs and bears smell alike. So a horse that will not accept a pig could be dangerous.
On a side note the county fair put the pig barn up right next to the horses ring. Literally 7ft away. Well for years it was very problematic and dangerous as horses repeatedly spooked, took off, bucked, or flat out refused to go to that side of the arena. They moved the pigs to a new facility, and use the old pig barn for other things now. The horses are not as bad as they used to be about that side of the ring, but some still act shy and spooky at that end.
it should be possible, as long you actually follow a proper desensitization protocol and avoid "flooding".
"flooding" would be actually bringing a pig home to live anywhere near her.
Desensitization is you expose the animal to the object of fear at a sub-threshold level, namely, at a level where the animal doesn't freak out, do something to make the animal feel good about the object of fear, and then gradually, oh so gradually, increase the level of exposure, all without ever pushing the animal over the threshold into acute fear.
You have to be careful- every time you accidentally push the animal over the comfort threshold you can increase the animal's fear. Fear creates more fear and the anticipation of fear. So building a pig pen right next to the paddock of a pigaphobic horse, in hopes the horse would just get used to the pig in time, could work, but it could also backfire tremendously and make the horse super-afraid of pigs.
So perhaps you could start out by using a stuffed fake pig toy at a distance, and gradual desensitize the horse to the APPEARANCE of a pig.
Then you introduce the SMELL of pig, and oh so gradually desensitize the horse to the smell.
Then the sound.
Then all three at once.
Then a real live pig.
Would be a lot of work, but it could be done.
I had a horse who thought pigs were funny- the very first time he ever saw one he had to go over to it and examine it, and then he was fascinated, and always wanted to go visit it, and he used to prod it with his nose in hopes of making it squeal, which he seemed to enjoy. So no, horses aren't automatically scared of pigs.
Back when I boarded we had a pot bellied pig stray onto our farm and make himself at home. Several times the BM called the owners to pick up Porkchop, until they finally said "If you guys don't want him we'll haul him off", which didn't bode well for old Porkchop. We ended up saying he could stay, and he became a favorite of the horses. I remember one time when some stray dogs came into the pasture and were going after Porkchop, the horses split into two groups - one herded PC over to the round bale and circled around him, and the other chased the dogs off. It was amazing to see.