Is it better to get another horse right after a loss or to wait?
I just had to have my mare of 21 years put down last night. She was my first horse and that very special horse that you just know you can never replace. I know I can't replace her, but I know I can love another horse.
I know this is going to be tough not having her around. She was what made my mornings enjoyable. When I walked in the barn, she greeted you with a very soft nicker. She would rather say hi to you and get some petting than have the grain I put in her stall. Unfortunately my gelding is not that way. He only cares about food. He's a great riding horse, so I'm fine with this in his case. But I just know it is going to be so hard to not have that friendly face in the barn everyday.
My husband wants me to not leave her stall empty and my gelding has always had separation anxiety. He's not handling this well and he is the type that needs a companion. I was just hoping that some Cothers have some advice for me.
Give yourself a little time. Everyone grieves differently. There's a good chance that your next horse will be your companion for the next 20 years so take some time to find the right one. Sometimes the right one falls into our laps right away and sometimes it takes awhile. So sorry for your loss.
Try to learn to keep all that your mare meant to you in one place and start a new place for whatever horse you get next.
There is enough for much in a person's mind, our experiences with one won't keep another one's experiences from being enjoyable.
In the dog world, we say that, sad as it is that dogs don't live that long, each one teaches us so much that it makes us an even better friend for our next one.
I think that also works with horses.
I still miss the two old horses we had, one gone now 2 1/2 years and will always miss them.
Still, the current horses are themselves and in their own way a happy thought to have them.
We have to learn to like each one of the horses we handle for themselves.
Mourning your mare may take long, but try to have that be separate from your life with your next horse.
I looked around and eventually found another wonderful horse.
They are out there, as others said, so take your time looking.
As when to get a new horse, that will be it's own path, enjoy it, however it happens.
Normally I would also say take your time, but it sounds like your gelding is not doing well alone at all.
Perhaps look for someone who needs to free lease their retired horse or see if a local rescue is looking for foster homes? This way you know that you'll only be taking in the horse temporarily -- no worries about making sure it's THE next horse you want to have for years.
And in the meantime, you'll be helping both your gelding and potentially another horse in need.
I second the suggestion that fostering or providing a retirement spot to a companion for your horse might ease the transition.
As far as for YOU ... I intended to wait a few years until I got a new horse when my last one (who was supposed to be the last horse I would ever get) passed over last summer, so wasn't looking ... and the perfect (for me) horse showed up on her own I suggest letting things evolve for you.
I was fortunate enough to have more than one horse both times that I had to euthanize one of them so I didn't have to get another horse to keep on riding. In both cases I had intended to wait for a while after euthanizing before getting a "replacement", but in both cases the right horse appeared and demanded my attention long before I had planned to look. I caved in both cases and bought the new horse.
I didn't have the companion horse issue. In your situation I too would suggest looking at fostering or taking in a retiree as companion (with whatever arrangement) or possibly a horse that is just needing some time to heal before going back to work. Just to give yourself some time to decide if you want another horse right now, or to look around to find the right horse.
I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do it, as long as its right for you.
I think when I lost my last heart horse, by choice I would have had a break for a while, but I already had other horses so needed to keep going with those.
I'm not completely sure I would have come back after that break, but here I am with one of our homebred babies shaping up to perhaps be that next heart horse for my future.
I've had friends that have taken a break and friends that went right back out and started searching. If you do buy a horse and find its not the right one for you, well, nothing to say you have to keep that one forever, when it could be someone elses perfect horse
I totally agree with everyone who's said take your time, and do what feels right to you.
It's been a year since I lost Min, and I didn't know what I was going to do - it took me weeks to get back out to the barn (he was my one and only) but after a couple of months, I started to feel really bad about having an empty barn - after that, it took a couple of months, but the right horse for me just kind of happened - and she's in my barn now, and she makes me smile everyday. I still miss Min, but I love my new girl, too.
If you're able to support another, I think providing a soft landing for another horse sounds like a great idea - my original plan with Min was to have him (my old guy), and get him a younger buddy that would be my "doing stuff" horse, and then, when Min was gone, I would find another elderly horse who needed a soft landing to keep the "youngster" company, and give me an oldster to pamper.
If your gelding isn't doing well without a buddy, you may need to find him a buddy sooner rather than later - do you have any friends who have a retiree or pasture pet that they could free lease to you? I know that when I wasn't looking for another horse, people seemed to come out of the woodwork with offers.
I'm down to just two horses, mine and a very senior boarder. The boarder injured himself about a month ago, and it looked worse than it was. Turned out it was just some adhesions breaking loose and a strained ligament, but the vet (not my usual vet) thought he had torn his DDFT. My horse will not do well by himself. No way.
I lined up a loaner pony just in case. OP, do you have someone who can lend you a pasture puff for a while?
For all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
~ Barack Obama
Last June I lost my heart horse at the age of 27. I had another little mare to keep going but it just wasn't the same. I "slowly" started shopping and found another one that I just clicked with. I have no idea how to explain it, I just knew, and there was nothing that I felt like that for the other horses I tried. So yes, I bought something almost right away (about 6 weeks?) after my mare passed, and I do not regret it. It doesn't make the hurt any less or the hole to be filled, but it helps life feel a little more normal... if that makes sense.
I lost two of my geldings two weeks apart (see my signature lines) and it was heartbreaking. One was my show horse that died suddenly from colic. The other one was the love of my life and only 5 years old. I had two pasture pet mares left so I wasn't completely horseless.
I started looking for a new horse right away! Horses and the horse world are my life and I would be lost without it. I bought my current gelding 1 month after the boys died. It did take me a bit to open my heart to him but I am SO glad that I did buy him I bought him as a gangly two year old who is now a beautiful, smart 5 year old.
I didn't grieve any more or any less because I bought another horse. It has taken me almost 3 years to get over losing the boys and I am not sure I am totally over it. Time will heal my broken heart!
If you want another horse right away.......go for it!
RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
RIP San Lena Peppy
May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010
If you are not ready to get another horse then do not get another horse. Wait until you are ready.
If you are ready to get another horse then start shopping.
There is no one size fits all answer to this question.
For your lonely current critter I am guessing you can find a loner horse to take up space until you find a more permanent resident.
I think you will know when the right time is. I put my 15 year old heart horse down (colic) 6 years ago. I had a mini and a 4 year old, so wasn't horseless by any stretch. It took me just under a year to start thinking about another horse. I bought a yearling almost a year to the date later.
I'm so sorry for your loss. I still remember how it felt when I lost my heart horse, year ago: I was so devastated, I couldn't imagine owning another horse, and wanted to get rid of all my horse stuff. My horsey friends convinced me to at least keep my tack "because you never know.." and then they were instrumental in my getting back into horse ownership.
In your case, as suggested, you could foster an equine to keep your other horse company, until you find another horse you click with.
This is a tough one and there is no right answer that works for everyone. We lost Trav suddenly and although I knew I needed to replace him to give Rico a companion, I did not have the heart for it. Out of the blue, a horse on the Finger Lakes listings that I'd admired months before was offered to me by his new owner. My daughter adores him, and he's been an incredible learning experience for her as a horsewoman. And he's all 'hers', unlike Trav, who was 'ours', so she's really invested her time, money, and energy into him in a way that she did not with Trav.
Sometimes the right horse will find you. It may be an entirely different horse than you expected to find, but they all have something to teach us and may find a different place in our hearts and lives.