Introducing a new horse to an established herd can be beneficial to the horse in the long run, but can be problematic in the short term. By treating your horse naturally, by allowing him time to adapt, you can ease them in painlessly, for both of you.
Horses are herd animals so they love the company of other horses. Separating ‘to keep them safe’ is a man made and dangerous thing to do. The horse becomes unhappy, sometimes depressed. They don’t get the social interaction they so desperately need. Neither do they get the discipline from a healthy herd. So accidents will occur.
Keeping horses in a herd, even a little one consisting of two horses, is more natural and they will be happier as a result. Horses do tend to pair off, even in a herd. So try to keep the numbers even. They also seem to prefer other horses similar to themselves. But that may be a luxury you can’t afford. An odd numbered horse can result in one getting the short straw, even being bullied.
The best way to introduce a new horse to a herd is to separate your existing area into two areas. If your horses know about electric fences this can be used as it’s easy and cheap to construct and just as easy to dismantle, However, there should also be an area where they can touch each other without fear of getting a shock.
Once they are touching each other in a friendly way, then you can allow them together. If you have more than one other horse, then do this one at a time. Allow the most friendly one to the new horse, in first. Fence off areas where a horse could be cornered.
Introduce the horse when the other horse is well away from you. You don’t want to be caught in the middle of their introductions.
People often keep horses in separate yards or stables because they don’t want the problem of being herd bound. Again, this is best approached gently, from a natural point of view.
Horses are prey animals, which means they are always on the look out for danger. Discomfort can also spell danger. The herd is safe and comfortable, when they are established in it. So you need to ensure that everything you ask of your horse is safe and comfortable for him.
Perhaps you could take him out of the herd to feed him. Don’t be too demanding when he is still finding his feet in the herd. It will be too much for him to handle. Increase the time away from the herd gradually, at his own pace. The minute he feels uncomfortable, turn around and go back. Each time, you will be able to stretch this a little further, until he feels just as safe with you as inside the herd.
The problems arise when people want results yesterday. This can’t and won’t work with horses. A motor bike may be more suitable for impatient people.
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