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Thoughts on keeping horse alone in pasture?

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  • Thoughts on keeping horse alone in pasture?

    Ok, so he is not ALONE alone, but he is by himself in his own pasture area. He can see the other horses, but not interact. My prior boarding barn had all sorts of gelding buddies for him to hang out with, but the current place only has a couple of mares, and they did not get along with my little guy.
    So he has his own little space, and his own hay, and life is good. Or is it? He seems happy and well adjusted. I do 100% selfcare so I am out to see him a minimum of 2x a day. He is often waiting at the gate for me.
    But I wonder if I am doing him a disservice having him by himself. I justify keeping just one by saying that he gets 100% of my attention and 100% of my finances ….but been thinking lately about acquiring another, especially as there are so many looking for homes in my area. In the past when I have owned more then one, I also felt guilty that someone was not getting the attention they deserved
    Thoughts?

  • #2
    If he isn't tearing up the fence line trotting and cantering back and forth, challenging the gate, and whinnying like a fool.... then I'd say you're fine.

    My guy is by himself where he can see other horses, and he is very content. If your guy starts to show signs of stress like going off his feed or appearing agitated and upset, then you may need to assess the turnout situation. For right now, though, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

    I'm sure others will chime in, but I do believe in listening to what the horse has to say. From what you posted, your horse is saying "I'm fine!"
    Alis volat propriis.

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    • #3
      I agree 100%.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd say he's okie dokie with things as they are. My Jacks is by himself right now, Sammy is off to his other home now and happy from what I hear, and the only other animals he can see are my mini-Daschies and some lamas down the road. But there are horses and ponies farther up my road (it dead ends) and people are starting to get out and about with them.

        I read a book just recently about keeping a horse by themselves and it said don't do it, not even a goat is equal company, they need another horse/pony with them, but I don't really agree. The last few years, each of my horses have had to deal with being alone for a while and at first they were kind of depressed but after a few days, the dogs, hubby and I were good enough for them!!

        If things are going south, I'm pretty sure he'd manifest it somehow and you'd know in a big way.
        GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

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        • #5
          My guy cannot be turned out with other horses, period. He likes mares WAAAY too much so no mixed situation, he used to be OK with his gelding buddies but then he hurt one of them very badly and BO put her foot down. He can hang with them over the fence. He's fine. Sounds like your guy is telling you that he's fine, too.
          What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!

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          • #6
            Horses are social animals and I believe that equine companionship is good for them. However, my gelding has been on his own for 2 years. The nearest horse is down the road. He does sometimes share a pasture with cattle and will then become very herd bound to the cows and call to them when they're not around.

            All in all, he's doing well. He's actually away for training right now and is probably enjoying the horsey environment But I can't manage 2 horses at this time and my boy seems happy and healthy, so he'll continue being an only horse for the forseeable future.

            I'm sure your horse will be fine. I'm sure I've stressed over my gelding's situation more than he has

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            • #7
              My gelding Jay needs companionship, I would be doing him a great disservice keeping him alone. He is just a very nervous and worrisome horse by nature and excels with a calm buddy to tell him to chill the frick out every now and then!!

              I did adopt a mini-donk which does help him when I have to take my show horse away, but I still have to put him in a stall or he'd run the field all day. The mini isn't a replacement for his horse-friend, but is much better than nothing!

              Looking back would it have been easier to adopt another horse or pony? Probably, but then again, Jay is crazy so who knows if he would "accept" any equine companion. At least I gave a mini-donk in need a forever home!

              That being said.. If I had the choice I'd never keep a horse alone.
              http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn

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              • #8
                Horses are like humans, some more social than others.

                On the extremes, some are down right anti-social, like to be alone.

                Others can't be left alone without them hurting themselves or getting sick from fretting and, even if you were to give them time to adjust if they are not getting too stressed, just won't.

                Many horses fall somewhere in the middle, are happy with those they get along with, don't care if they are alone or how alone, if with horses across the fence or not in sight at all.

                The last horses I have had here lately have been the kind that likes to know there is another horse around, but each goes on their own pasture far away from any other horse without a care and if one is left alone at times for some days, they don't care anyway.

                I think you can't say what you need to do until you try whatever management works best for you and then go from that, if he is happy then or not.

                For what you describe, he seems to be fine as of now.
                If you add another horse, they may not like each other, or like each other so bad there is trouble if and when you take one out, or they may be fine any one way you happen to manage them.

                Now, if you just want to have one more horse, get it and manage according to what happens, help them adapt best you can.

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                • #9
                  My gelding is cool either way. He just chills out in the shelter if he is in the pasture by himself and I have Baby and Momma in the 'arena' with the hay, or he is too concerned with eating the hay if I swap them.

                  However, he does really like the Baby and the baby loves him so I make sure that he gets to spend time with the Baby, a least a couple of hours.

                  When ever I go out to see him he is either at the gate waiting for me, or will leave his hay to come see me, but he hasn't shown me that he MUST be with someone else, I think he rather enjoys the bachelor time.
                  Chambermaid to....
                  Lilly
                  Reggie

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                  • #10
                    As long as your guy isn't pacing the fence lines, running around, working himself up into a sweat or calling frantically to the mares in the other fields then I'd say he's perfectly fine. Because you see him every day your relationship is surely very strong and he loves your company. I see my horse on average 5 days a week and she ALWAYS comes running over to the gate as soon as my car pulls up. Sometimes she's in the field with her friends and other times she's alone but the minute I show up it's like nobody else in the world matters.

                    Depending on how far away the other horses are, I'd say your guy may be a little bored on his own but certainly not anxious or depressed. If you get another horse he may not get along with him and it might cause other unforeseen problems.

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                    • #11
                      I like to keep them together but sometimes you just can't for various reasons. Someone wrote something about people being a good substitute for the pack in reference to a dog's social needs, and I think the same can be said for horses. If you are interacting with your horse daily, you start to become the companion it likes to have. If you get to the point where you seldom visit the horse, it might be more important to get him another companion.

                      I wish I could find a simple, inexpensive, surefire companion for my one mare who is really needy but being kept separate right now for her own good. She's next to another mare, they can touch noses, but I keep her separate so she can avoid getting picked on. She just seems to irritate the horses I've tried her with.
                      "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina

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                      • #12
                        At the moment, my guy is on his own and he can't even see another horse. I also do not like to keep them solo as they are such herd animals, and I have been really looking for a companion for him. At the moment though, until something emerges, he is alone and seems to be doing fine. He does not run the fence line, does not appear distressed, but seems relaxed. I am out there a lot, soemtimes just sit in his pasture and work or read. It is not ideal but for now it appears okay. I could not agree more to listen towhat your horse is telling you, and if he is not saying DISTRESS!! I think he is okay!

                        OTOH, one of my guys in MT was just miserable when his buddy went off for a few weeks of training, and there was no way I would leave him like that. My neighbor very helpfully put his horses in their pen that shares a fence with mine, so my guy could see and touch noses with them.

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                        • #13
                          Agree, your horse sounds fine.

                          If you ever do want to get a companion for him, you can always free lease one fyi. That way if your situation changes you can give him back. I'm always advising people to offer their companion only horses as free leases with vet and farrier paid, so now I'm advising you to look for a horse like that if you are looking for a companion.

                          On the other hand, if you can afford another and don't mind having it for potentially a long time, then never mind, adopt a pasture puff!

                          As you say, there are so many horses looking for homes, you may as well set up the situation to be as good for you as it can be -- while also doing a good thing for the companion horse.
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                          • #14
                            I'd say your horse appears fine, there are horses around, he is not showing stress.

                            However, I'm firmly of the belief that horses need hair to hair contact
                            rather than being separated if that is an option. Here at home we do not have neighbours so I have a little mini for my mare and they are absolutely fine and happy and trusting together. I feel hair to hair is preferable when you watch how they work out their positioning in the paddocks.

                            But one has to work with one's own situation and you are obviously a person with enough sensitivity to tune into your horse. Indeed, there are some trainers who deprive their horses so badly so the horse becomes more dependent on its care-giver/trainer. Pathetic.
                            Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Thank you all for your input, much appreciated!

                              I agree that he is not "stressed"...there is no pacing or calling. Just want the best for my guy

                              I love the prior posters idea of a free lease or something along that lines. I will have to keep my eyes open.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                It's handy that he seems okay alone, but I wouldn't consider that a long-term solution. They are herd animals, and they do "love" their "friends." (We sometimes call this "herd bound," but then that's a glass-half-empty kind of attitude! ). I would suggest you keep your eyes open for a horsey companion that meets your situation, and gives him company. Otherwise, I've seen horses that live alone become depressed and lethargic over time. I don't think we are enough company for them over the long-term.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  My mare lived by herself for several years after my gelding died. The first farm she could see horses on two neighboring farms. The second farm also she could see other horses from neighboring farms. She seemed quite content with her life.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
                                    It's handy that he seems okay alone, but I wouldn't consider that a long-term solution. They are herd animals, and they do "love" their "friends." (We sometimes call this "herd bound," but then that's a glass-half-empty kind of attitude! ). I would suggest you keep your eyes open for a horsey companion that meets your situation, and gives him company. Otherwise, I've seen horses that live alone become depressed and lethargic over time. I don't think we are enough company for them over the long-term.

                                    I have seen horses depressed because they could NOT be alone and turn into real grumps and fighting all and any, becoming bullies.
                                    Alone? Happy as a lark, because they don't have to keep watching out for others or protect resources or whatever bothers them when with others.

                                    While normally horses like company and some can't live happy without it, we can't say any one horse is like that, because horses, like humans, come in all kinds of personalities.

                                    My two last now gone ranch horses could not care less, either way was fine with them.
                                    One I have now is fine alone, happier if another horse is at least in sight, but doesn't fret alone at all.
                                    So, I see that he has company and most of the time he is happy with his company, but doesn't care if the other horse goes somewhere.
                                    The other horse seems about the same in temperament, but I have not had him alone, so don't know yet how he will do then, if that happens.

                                    The trouble with introducing a second critter of any kind to the mix is that then you will have two to care for.
                                    If you really only want to care for one, maybe really only have resources of energy, time and money for one, why borrow trouble?

                                    Now, if the OP's horse really needs company to be happy, then you cope on your human end to provide for that.

                                    I think the OP just has to keep watching its horse and go by what it shows her it needs.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'd have to say it depends on the horse. My ancient pony boarder is fine by himself, inside and out. Most of my others would not have been fine....

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Just brought mine home yesterday..

                                        he came from a large herd situation where he was low man on the totem pole. I turned him out for a little bit and he paced the fence and called to a horse next door that he could see, settled down after about an hour, nothing stupid, he's a sensible sort of horse.

                                        Brought him in, he looked around, hollered a couple of times an hour for about 3 hours then took a nap. Turned out last night, horses next door were not out where he could see them. He called twice, but from the middle of the field in between bites of grass.

                                        He was standing up the hill this morning when I went out to get him, and came when I called, put him in for the day, he ate his breakfast, called only once as I was leaving. I walked back, gave him a pat and a cookie and he settled in to eat his hay.

                                        What I have found is, horses at the very bottom or the very top of the pecking order tend to do just fine alone, the top horses don't "need" anyone else, the bottom horses seem to figure out "hey, I no longer have to fight for food, the good grass or the prime spot in the run in shed, and I get all the squidgies". The middle horses seem to either have a hard time adjusting or they just don't.

                                        My current horse came back with quite a few "love bites". I think he'll be just fine as an only.

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