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To get a foal buddy/playmate or not to?

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  • To get a foal buddy/playmate or not to?

    While I'm loving having my first baby around (8-week old colt), he was the only foal in the barn until a mare came to get rebred and brought her 6-week-old colt along with her. Play time! They are loving it... but my 2 are moving onto my property soon (where my other 3 grown horses are) and now I'm wondering- does he need a playmate?

    Tossing around the idea, I fell upon a woman selling her qh mare and (ta da) 8-week-old colt for pretty cheap. Says mare is a sweetheart, well broke, yadda yadda, and was purchased in foal, though she didn't know it, so now she doesn't have the time.

    Is this a good idea to consider or not so much? I have the space and a separate foal paddock with run-in, but going from my 1st foal to 2 suddenly and adding a new mare to the herd- is it more work than it's worth?

    Any opinions about "only children" versus having others in the age group would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Personally, I prefer for them to have a buddy foal, but I've also had singles and they've turned out okay, too. A lot depends on budget and what would you do with the extra mare and foal and do you have time for them, too.
    http://leakycreek.wordpress.com/ Rainbows & Mourning Doves Blog
    John P. Smith II 1973-2009 Love Always
    Father, Husband, Friend, Firefighter- Cancer Sucks- Cure Melanoma


    • #3
      If financially and timewise you can do it, I would. Had only one foal last year and he was quite the handful until I got him weaned and turned out with a gelding a year older then him to play with.


      • #4
        I can just tell you my N=1 is that mine never had a same-age buddy and he's learned good manners from his Uncles. He's also had a great time instigating play with the oldest Uncle (which has actually been great for his arthritis!), and as his mom also has a high play drive, when I put them back together after weaning, he had a "new" playmate

        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


        • #5
          I can't imagine buying another mare and foal (that I have no real interest in owning) just to keep a foal company .


          • #6
            A friend of mine bought a 5 month old, then within a few weeks felt bad and bought another weaner for company LOL But, on her side, her adult horses were not treating the foal well, so she did have to separate him.

            I forgot about my first foal - bought him at 6 months and he never had another same-age playmate growing up. He grew up in a few mixed gender herds and was just fine.
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • #7
              I've got a 6 week old filly that is an 'only child' and I plan on keeping it that way. She has mamma and 'Uncle Bob' to harass and learn manners from. Neither will bite or kick at her, just make ugly faces, so it's a perfect situation. And she entertains herself pretty well...

              I'm sure she'd like someone else to play with but I don't want another mouth to feed that I don't want or have long term plans for and can't ride for years. It's bad enough feeding and maintaining 3 horses and only having 1 that is rideable.


              • #8
                I had a foal we raised as an orphan thanks to some complications doing foaling. When I moved her and her mom home, the filly related to humans more than horses. So I found an inexpensive 4 month old foal for her. I really believe it benefited them both!
                My only thing I wish I got a foal that was easier to market. He is now 4yrs old, fully registered paint with papers and I even paided to have him broke. But I have almost no interested as far as potential buyers for him (it's really sad because he is a great little horse).
                If you do get another foal I would get something you know you either want to keep or you can resale down the road.


                • #9
                  I have borrowed an old gelding in the past to keep a youngster company . It's usually not necessary to buy companion horses. Free room and board for the time needed benefits all.


                  • #10
                    Or if you can find somebody else in the area with the same predicament I loaned a colt out last summer to a friend needing a buddy for her weanling. She paid all expenses while my colt was there (worked out well, as her baby was a colt, and I only had fillies- other than the one colt), and saved her from having to go buy one.
                    Making Your Ambitions a Reality at Secret Ambition Stables.
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                    • #11
                      I have an only child this year and I wish she had a friend, but she is out with mom, an Auntie and Uncle and she seems happy. When weaning time comes she will stay with the Uncle and I will move the two mare to a different pasture. I am looking for a gelding pony/hony to play extra babysitter and to give my poor gelding a male friend.


                      • #12
                        We have two but apparently their moms HATE each other. They'll have to wait to be play mates when they get weaned.
                        The rebel in the grey shirt


                        • #13
                          If you can handle a new mare and foal...that's the way I'd go. Horses ARE herd animals and I think babies do best with playmates. They will survive without one, but company is the best way.
                          Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                          • #14
                            My filly is an only child and she seems to really enjoy hanging out with Uncle Myst more then she hangs out with Mom. I have noticed she only goes to Mom for a drink from the milk bar, but she spends all her time with Uncle Myst.

                            I am all for her spending time with Uncle Myst because Uncle Myst adores me. I don't have to call him, he can hear me when I come out of the house and is right there waiting for me and right with him is Caly.

                            Now that she has been introduced to Uncle Myst she is better behaved and much more people friendly then she was before. She never minded if I came in to pet her, but she didn't make an effort to approach me, now she comes to me and waits with Uncle Myst. For example this morning when I let them into the arena with the round bale, Momma went running for it but Caly waited until Uncle Myst came along and nosed her butt and went in nicely and at a walk and she walked along with him nicely as well.

                            I have also noticed that when I have been teaching her to lead, the first few were lead rope around the butt and encouraging her forward. Since she has been hanging out with Uncle Myst she wears the halter nicely and almost overnight learned to lead. She is more than happy now to walk the arena with me. I have been teaching her to lower her head when I put the halter on her and that she doesn't get to leave when the halter comes off, I do. She is picking up very well.

                            Uncle Myst is a saint in horses clothing and is really helping me raise this baby well.
                            Chambermaid to....


                            • #15
                              I think that is awesome Foals learn from all sorts of situations, and having well-behaved adults who do the things you want to teach baby - including the every important come when called - is priceless. When I weaned, which I did on my property, I put my foal with my WB gelding for several reasons - he would tolerate X amount of play but then be quick to say STOP and mean it, as well as being someone who just doesn't get worked up over stupid little things.

                              As long as there are sensible adults for the foal to hang with, I just don't think it's as critical for foals to be raised with other foals as some would have you believe. I DO think that's ideal - multiple foals with multiple adults, for the play time with the foals and the manners with the adults. But not critical JMHO
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                              • #16
                                I have (well - had) just my mama and baby at home (brought her home after we found out she had become pregnant). Mama let her get away with EVERYTHING - I mean everything, and she was quickly developing bad manners. I put my laid-back miniature out with her and whew did he whip her into shape. Within a week she was no longer biting, trying to double barrel you, or trying to climb up you. He's nice to her and fairly tolerant, but doesn't let her get away with all that crap that mama paid no attention to. An added bonus I hadn't thought about at the time is when I go to wean... she already has a buddy who she totally adores, so I'm hoping it will make the transition easier.

                                Whatever you decide - good luck!
                                "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

                                Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue


                                • #17
                                  I have raised many singleton foals. I actually find it easier than when they are in a baby herd. I wean the foal onto my little paint mare that does not allow them to get away with bad behavior. She is not mean to them, just disciplined. Then when I want to work with them I don't have to deal with a bunch of calling buddies and misbehavior as the baby tries to get back to her herd. My little paint mare could care less when I take them from her to do ground work. This way the baby has a playmate AND and auntie that keeps them in line in the same buddy.
                                  Read about my time at the Hannoveraner Verband Breeders Courses: