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How Long Can a Horse Be Alone

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  • How Long Can a Horse Be Alone

    So moving in July, have a property we're moving to that's set up for 2 horses but I only have 1. Was going to get another before I moved but decided with shipping costs it makes more sense to wait until I'm there.

    Which leads me to my gelding being alone on my property. Now he's not particularly social. He's currently in a paddock by himself but with horses on either side. He's not one to really care about the others. That being said I don't want there to be a huge issue when I do get another horse and bring it in. I don't want to get a boarder because I want to be able to move in a horse when I buy one. But I also don't want to feel rushed into buying.

    So how long is okay? Would a goat do? And I've heard I'd need 2 goats. I really don't want a goat!

  • #2
    Plenty of horses do just fine living alone for an extended period of time (years). My mare goes all summer by herself and is just dandy.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


    • #3
      My young gelding died totally unexpectedly and he was at home with my mare. My mare is VERY herd-bound so I was very anxious about her. It turns out she settled in within a day or so, but I did get her a goat while I was looking for another horse. She was alone with the goat for a few months and seemed content as it was a large goat who was social with horses. It was not ideal, but we made the best of the situation and she was fine.

      Goats are herd animals also, but the goat I acquired was older and used to being an "only" goat, so it was no problem for her. She's actually a lot of fun and I really enjoy her too.

      I have another horse now, and when I go to shows with her, the other mare stays with the goat and manages fine.

      In your case, see how it goes, take a day at a time, try and have a companion animal lined up in case. An older, larger goat may work out well. Try and spend a lot of time out at the barn, too. I would spend a lot of extra time grooming etc.

      Mini donkeys are also another good possibility.


      • #4
        As usual, I think it depends on the horse.

        I had one that absolutely could not live alone or he'd get dejected and grumpy, and go off feed within about two weeks. Probably ulcers. This would happen even if he could see other horses.

        One of my current mares has a gigantic personal space bubble, and she seems to love being turned out alone. I don't think she's ever been unable to see another horse for very long, but I suspect she'd handle it fairly well.

        And I even had one gelding who never seemed to care one whit if he could even see another horse. If we went camping I could tie him someplace he couldn't see any other horses, and he would just hang out, and never made a peep. Didn't seem to notice if he was alone or not. He'd have been totally fine with being an only horse for the rest of his life.

        Depending on how often you take one horse off property you may end up needing a companion anyhow. A fair number of horses freak out when their only buddy leaves the property and they're all alone, even if they were previously okay living alone.

        Right now I have two horses and two sheep, which is working well for me. I can take one horse out, or two horses out, and everyone is still happy.

        At one point when I needed an emergency companion (my babysitter gelding died, which would have left my almost-yearling alone) I borrowed a mini donkey from a neighbor, and that worked out quite well.

        At one point we'd looked into fostering a rescue horse for a while, so maybe something like that would be an option as well.

        So I guess I'm saying that your horse may very well be fine alone, but if not, there's a variety of both long-term and short-term options that you could explore.
        "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
        -Edward Hoagland


        • #5
          Honestly I don't think unless you have a totally neurotic animal that being alone for a few is going to do any damage - and you already know what type of personality your horse has. if he's a worrier and already displays herd like issues etc, then you might have a probelm, although sometimes some alone time can do wonders for that type of horse too.

          I've had horses who can't stand to be alone, and I've got one gelding presently who doesn't care whether he's alone or not - in fact I'm pretty sure he's happier alone - but sadly he has to share his paddock, and when I turn him out to graze in an already occupied field, I swear I can see his eyes rolling in disgust over it.
          Originally posted by ExJumper
          Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.


          • Original Poster

            Now I'm looking at minis. I do NOT need 3 horses. . .


            • #7
              Two of my horses would kill themselves before they lived alone. The third really wouldn't care. My friend's horse lived alone for a couple years before she got him a buddy and was just fine. Entirely horse dependent.

              Originally posted by phoenixrises View Post
              Now I'm looking at minis. I do NOT need 3 horses. . .
              Yes you do. Or better yet, a mini donkey.


              • Original Poster

                Ugh I've looked at them too. This is too hard. We're a military family and move often, moving 3 horses. . .


                • #9
                  But Minis are small and can take up one stall.. I mean really, 2 minis are just one horse.. AND you can train them to drive in pairs or singles.
                  Chambermaid to....


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rainechyldes View Post
                    Honestly I don't think unless you have a totally neurotic animal that being alone for a few is going to do any damage.
                    Interestingly, it was actually my calmest, least neurotic, most laid back horse that had the most trouble with living alone. And the mare who likes being turned out alone is totally neurotic. Go figure.
                    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                    -Edward Hoagland


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by phoenixrises View Post
                      Now I'm looking at minis. I do NOT need 3 horses. . .
                      Mini's require "mini-proof" fencing & may need to be dry lotted

                      If there is a CANTER in the state, you could foster for them (or other rescues), also check with local AC/shelters if they need equine foster homes


                      • #12
                        My horse is a total neurotic wuss. He was fine living alone for 3 months. He got much friendlier, actually, desperate for social interaction, he started to trot up to the trough in the mornings and nicker for me. He was kind of aloof before that, his pasture mate was a dominant mare and my pet...he was happy to stand back and let her deal with the humans.

                        He also got very attached to the deer that wandered through the neighborhood. He stood at RAPT attention when they came into view, and would follow them as far as possible. This apparently did not get old for him.

                        I think this would have been hard for him if there were horses all around...but there were none living within sight, earshot or even smell range. I think he might have gotten a bit more agitated if he could hear others and not see them, etc.

                        I swapped the two out for the following three/four months, and the dominant pet mare was a little mopey for the first few days, but I think she just missed being able to exert authority over anyone. She'd call for me if I was late with breakfast, and was certainly pleased to see me when I came out of the house, but living alone didn't hurt her either. Since she's the center of all universes, I don't think she noticed the deer. She did take great joy in terrorizing the loose dog that wandered into our property from time to time. Herding dogs do not like being herded by horses.
                        Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                        • #13
                          My mare was veryvery unhappy when we moved to the farm and she was alone for a couple weeks. She spent almost all her time walking the fence looking for another horse. There were a few 'in the distance' she could hear, but none on nearby that she could talk to. I bet she lost 100 lbs. and I felt terrible!
                          I think you won't know how your horse will react until you see how he reacts. Good luck!
                          Y'all ain't right!


                          • Original Poster

                            As much as I want there to be a good reason for not getting a mini. The fencing is mini proof and the main paddock area is a dry lot. . .

                            yeah I think this is one of those things i just cant plan for. I don't know how he'll react until he does. I have a friend with a place about 2 hours away so if he's awful I can probably keep my gelding with her gelding until I find my next horse.


                            • #15
                              My guy was alone for almost a year while his barnmate (can't say buddy) was out for training. He was fine. And had no problem when I brought a new horse home. He's pretty easy going in the pasture.
                              Ride like you mean it.


                              • #16
                                It does depend on the horse. Wallkicker has been alone for over two years now and is a changed animal. He is no longer fearful, nervous and spooky and respects my space more and is not all bony from the nerves. He now calls to me when I come out of the house and doesn't wait for me to call to him. If some cervid wipes out a section of fence and he gets out, no merry chase across country - he never really leaves the yard and hangs around until I come rescue him. He happily goes inside at night, no yelling and shaking oat cans as he just trots into the barn and stands, head sticking out the door, waiting for me to shut said door. He is completely happy all alone and preferred to be stabled at the track alone and really didn't care if he saw another horse beside him. Mr Fussy could not stand to be alone - he ran, screamed and was a PITA that would crawl or jump fences and take off to the neighbours' to visit their mares. This behaviour made training rather difficult so I acquired a loaner pony for him.

                                So, it depends, and the only way you will find out is try it.
                                Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                                Member: Incredible Invisbles


                                • #17
                                  See how he reacts. If he isn't happy, talk to local rescue groups about fostering a horse until you find one to buy.


                                  • #18
                                    Depends on the horse.
                                    I sold last winter a horse that didn't like to have any other horse around, was grumpy unless he was the only horse.
                                    The family that has him now, with little kids doting over him, is ecstatic with him and he is happy now, his ears back up, no more Mr Grump.
                                    Now, he is an exception, but from that to some that just fret until they get sick if alone, it depends on your horse.

                                    Read your horse, keep your eye on him and if he starts feeling lonely, then you really should try to find him company.


                                    • #19
                                      We had old pony (23) and old horse (30+). When either one was out of sight, the other went completely bonkers. Totally nuts. My plan....when one had to be put down, we'd just put the other down as well, because I knew the survivor would go crazy.

                                      Last fall, we lost Pony. I got talked into keeping old horse. Vet sedated him, and he got to spend the night with Pony before she was buried. The vet kindly offered to supply us with another horse or donkey if we needed one. I opted to see how he'd do before I brought in anything else.

                                      Day one, he didn't eat breakfast or lunch, but nibbled on dinner. Day two, he nibbled at breakfast and lunch, ate dinner. By day 3, he was fine. I honestly thought we'd either have to get another horse or have him put down, but so far so good.

                                      Just hard to know how they'll do until you give them a chance


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Well you guys give me hope. He spent the bulk of his life at the track in a stall. He certainly doesn't mind having horses around but he doesn't seek them out either. So it looks like we may just be ok!

                                        And as you said, I'll try it if it doesn't work I'm sure I can find someone in rural Georgia who is willing to loan me a horse.