How To Put Two New Horses Together
I am considering purchasing a 7 year old mare that has never been away from its mother. We will eventually have 2 horses but this is the first one we are contemplating. Should we wait until we have another horse to pair it with, or is this a bad idea all together.
Last summer the mother horse was taken to a 4H fair for a week and the owner said the younger horse ran around the paddock for about an hour and then settled down but it was in home territory at that point. I am concerned about separation anxiety. What do you think?
Since you have the choice of waiting until you get the second horse you may want to consider that. I would try not to bring this horse home just to be alone. She is used to a herd environment and longs for it so having her at your place alone (in a new environment) would be quite emotionally upsetting. (In the example you mentioned, was there other horses left behind with her when her mother was gone? Or was she alone? And has this horse been socialized with any other horses in her life? It makes a difference.)
But I don’t want you to go out shopping for the second horse in a haste to get it done either. Can this horse stay where she is while you find the other? If so great, if not and you really want her then you don’t have much choice. After all she would get used to it eventually (but it would be very hard to watch at first) and be fine for a short while, I just don’t like to see horses live their whole lives alone because that is too unnatural and it eventually causes behavioral and health issues.
Ultimately what you are doing is creating a new herd
and it takes time for all horses to adjust plus it takes much more time than we usually think. I have noted that true community is established amongst horses after several months
rather than weeks.
P.S. Once you do have two horses, don’t just put them together right away. It is still very good management to have them in separate paddocks next to each other where they can introduce themselves over a fence for at least a few days. Under your circumstances they would likely bond quite quickly because they only have each other but they would still need to determine who will be the leader of this small herd. Depending upon their upbringing and dispositions this could be non eventful or still quite nasty.
Horses by Nature