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Two horses very affected by loss of barnmate.

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  • Two horses very affected by loss of barnmate.

    Most of you know that I had to put down one of my horses on Thursday. Well, seems as though the other two horses are more affected than I expected them to be. My big man(perch/tb), who has always been the bully of the group is really acting out towards my mare. He is chasing her more than usual and more aggressive than usual. It's been more when they go out and when it's time to come in, not so much throughout the day. She runs away from him. If she didn't run he wouldn't know what to do. Deep down he is a wicked wimp! He also generally adores her.

    My mare is upsetting me more. She is the one that Buddy used to shadow all the time, she couldn't be out of his sight. She tolerated it but was annoyed with it at the same time. She has been very jumpy(she never is). She is also very grumpy(again a never). Pinning her ears back, grumpy. Today when I rode her(first ride since Bud was euth'd), I put my leg on to trot, she lifts her head, pins her ears and sucks off my leg(NEVER EVER does this). So I just talked to her for a minute and patted her. When I asked again she was better but not herself. She keeps walking away from us when we try to talk to her(never, she loves attention). I think the grumpiness is more upsetting me b/c she is a very loving and happy horse.

    They both were there when Buddy was euth'd. Cooby was is the a different paddock but he wasn't far away, could still see and everything. Diamond was with Buddy, maybe about 10 feet from his head.
    Today Cooby was better with her, so maybe he's getting over it. I think today was D's worse day so far. I have just been trying to spoil her a little bit more. More carrots, more hugs, more soft whispers. Tonight when I groomed her she got very pissed when I did her stomach, which she usually LOVES. I didn't get mad at her(pinning ears, picking up hind leg) I just ignored it and didn't brush her belly anymore.

    So please, those of you that have been through this, tell me this is normal, tell me she'll be okay!
    Is there anything I can do that may help her feel better and stop him from being a jerk to her?
    To ride or not to ride; what a stupid question!

  • #2
    Totally normal.

    I put my old guy down about 3 years ago..both of my mares had some pretty strong reactions to that. It IS normal.

    I'm very sorry for your loss.

    All I can recommend is to do the probioic thing if anyone is acting stressed/not eating and otherwise, kill them with kindness.

    Best wishes.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...

    Comment


    • #3
      I know its not exactly the same but my lab was definitely the follower and my sheltie was the alpha if you can imagine that. When my sheltie died the lab didn't even know how to go to the bathroom by herself. She had always followed him out and went on the grass the same time he did. It took her much longer to get over his death because she not only missed him, but had no idea what to do with herself. I think you may have a little bit of that going on in your situation. Eventually they learn their new place and go on with their life, but animals are very much creatures of habit and get upset when the routine is gone. You are very kind to be so patient with them, they are grieving too but don't have the ability to rationalize their grief the way you do.
      McDowell Racing Stables

      Home Away From Home

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      • #4
        Hay

        I had to euth my alpha mare on Friday. And afterwards, we had some herd dynamics too. I had to drug the one horse to almost comatose to get the alpha mare out of the barn. He was definitely attached her and would have pitched a major fit while we were euth'ing. Once, it was done, we brought both horse out to sniff and then left them in the barn for several hours. There was some calling. Then when I got there, I put them out to do stalls and there was a pecking order definitely being established. They did take the same rolls. Interestingly, the younger horse who has been omega all his life and even though he is nine years old, did that champing thing that baby horses do to elder horses. I had always thought that that ended when horses got to a certain age. The omega horse has been champing every time the new alpha (who was #2 before) comes near him. The alpha mare really protected the younger horse and mothered him. (He is a PMU and we got him at 18 months...) But there were alot of herd dynamics and alot of neighing...still...for the old mare. We euth'ed her Oct. 3 and it is now the 6th. It definitely seems to be settling in for us...

        Did you let your horses sniff the euth'ed horse?
        Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
        One of our horsey bumper stickers! www.horsehollowpress.com
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        • #5
          Tt may also be that their little "herd" dynamic has changed and it will just take some time for each to settle into it. I hope the transition for all of you goes as smoothly as can be possible.

          Comment


          • #6
            They really Do understand the loss and they seem to know when a friend's time is coming to an end. it's almost spooky sometimes. I'm sorry for your loss.

            Comment


            • #7
              I think horses grieve a lot like kids do, more angry at first then anything. Once they re-establish their new herd dynamics, things will be fine. Usually doesn't take too terribly long.

              On a similar note, not a loss, but alpha mare was sold out of a group of four mares. The remaining three seriously didn't know what to do w/ themselves because she wasn't there to tell/show them what to do. I watched them for awhile, as it was fascinating. They would all go back to where they go into their stalls in the barn and just stare in there looking for her and then wander down by the hay ring and stand and stare off into the distance. They were like giant lost puppies w/out their mother. No calling or panic just confusion. I felt sorry for them, but by about the third or fourth day they seemed to settle back into the routine, except for coming in the barn. The next mare in line kept walking into the alpha mare's stall instead of hers so I had to stand in the alpha mare's stall to keep her moving to her own. And she still looks for her when turned back out since she always waiting for her to come out before she'd go. She's still doing this and it's been more than a week now since the alpha mare left. She's a fairly sensitive girl so I think that's why she's acting this way. The younger two aren't near as bothered. None of them are dominant, but they need to make a new leader and get on w/ life again.

              Hang in there and (((HUGS))) so sorry for your loss.
              A Merrick N Dream Farm
              Proud Member of "Someone Special to me serves in the Military" Clique

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              • #8
                Just watch her for the stress, she may also have an upset stomach from the anxiety which comes from a change in the herd dynamics. You may want to try some magnesium too for a calming influence.
                "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

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                • #9
                  Best wishes!

                  Totally normal and it's a resetting of the pecking order. And in my experience; this can take a few weeks max. Be patient and understanding and think of it in horse terms; not human terms.

                  Had 3 horses once and had to put old mare down. 2 geldings ran the farm for 2 nights galloping & calling& looking for her. Sad to hear at night when you're laying in bed. The calling decreased gradually over a week. They were anxious for about 10 days.

                  Be patient. They need that most from you IMHO!

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                  • #10
                    I haven't read all the posts but I know when I had to put my 23 year old down a few years ago, my 2 year old was very affected by it. She literally moped around for a month.
                    Missouri Fox Trotters-To ride one is to own one

                    Standardbreds, so much more then a harness racing horse.

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                    • #11
                      We lost a mare to colic a few years back. She was a retired mare who spent all her time with our old mule (had him put down a few months ago). He was with her when she died and there when she was buried. After the burial he stayed by the grave all that day, that night and into the next day when we moved him and shut him out of that pasture. Several months ago we reopened the pasture for him and he went straight to the grave and spooked. After that he was okay but he hadn't forgotten her. The first night we had separated him from the grave he did call for her several times. A really sad sound.
                      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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                      • #12
                        When I had to put down my alpha dog, who was a busybody and into everything, all the other dogs were so quiet for about 2 weeks that it was absolutely spooky. Nobody moved when I fed, nobody made a sound. They all just sat there looking at me, asking with their eyes, "Where's Dash?" There was no play, very little activity, no barking, no wagging tails for soooo long. Even when they started to perk up again, it was very slow and gradual. I've had to put down other dogs before but they only looked out at the truck once or twice to see if the other dog were still sitting there. When Dash went over the bridge the loss was stupendous.

                        I can't stand it when people ask you what you're crying about - they're only horses, or only dogs, or only cats - what's the big deal? Sorry, it IS a big deal. I'm sorry for your loss.
                        Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                        Now apparently completely invisible!

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Seems like he has stopped chasing her. She seemed better today, we'll see when they come in from the field today how she is tonight. The pecking order didn't change since he was the lowest on the todem pole so I was surprised they reacted so much. I've had a bunch of horses come and go over the years but this was the first death.
                          When I put down my boxer, my amstaff was devastated. She was one that didn't know how to go out and pee by herself.
                          To ride or not to ride; what a stupid question!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cayusepapoose View Post
                            Tt may also be that their little "herd" dynamic has changed and it will just take some time for each to settle into it. I hope the transition for all of you goes as smoothly as can be possible.
                            I agree with this. I had four, and after my old mare was put down the herd dynamics changed with the remaining three. I think its no different than if you add one.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              That's quite normal.

                              I board retired horses and every time we've lost a client, the whole herd dynamic changes. This year, the alpha gelding broke his shoulder and was put down. It was a big adjustment for the remaining four geldings, who were all depressed and seemed "lost" without Dancer to herd them around.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                OMG, Watermark, that's spooky.
                                I do retirement boarding and lost 2 this past year.
                                The alpha gelding, my old TB hunter, fell and broke his shoulder and had to be put down.
                                It threw all the others into a tailspin. No one knew when to eat or drink or what order, they were all pinning their ears. One had to be tranqed.
                                I eventually got an old pony to put with one Tb and had to seperate the others.

                                For weeks all their heads would turn, in sync, if they saw something big and white go past the farm - trailer, another horse - they all thought it was Otis coming back. Teddy stared thru the trees at the white trailer for days. It was really quite heart breaking.

                                It's been 8 months and if I put the 3 together they still are at odds, not fighting, just all try to follow each other and end up going round in circles.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  aiken4horses, the one we put down was an old TB, too. I had never seen a fractured scapula before --- very painful. He fractured it as he cantered. He never fell.

                                  I always let all the horses at the farm investigate the body. It really helps, as they then know the horse is dead. I've shed many tears while doing this. When we euth'd the alpha TB in the pasture, I turned his mates back out with him. They stood around him as they had when he was hurt --- in a circle. One by one, they went to his body and smelled. They seemed respectful --- he was still the alpha and they didn't want him to come after them! After they were sure he was not getting up (about 30-60 minutes), they all sadly walked out to graze. They watched while we buried him.

                                  I put my elderly TB mare down. The PMU foal she'd "raised" was taken to her body. He climbed on top of her and pawed at her. It was heartbreaking, but once he knew she was gone, he was OK.

                                  Last summer I euth'd a TB rescue mare. Her best friend would not leave her body afterward. It took an hour. Just as I was getting concerned, he simply turned and walked away. I put him out with another mare, and he took off, galloping happily. He was fine after that. It does help for horses to see what happened with their friends.

                                  Sorry to the OP for her loss....Give lots of probiotics to your other guys and try to keep stress low and give lots of hugs and pats.

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