Ideas for slowly introducing my horse to a companion?
I would like my horse to have the option of having a buddy to go out with, but ever since I've had him (7 years) he's been on individual turn-out. Does anyone have suggestions for safely introducing him to a buddy?
Thanks in advance!
If you have two pastures divided by a fence line, just put existing horse in Pasture A and new horse in Pasture B. They'll meet at the fence line, sniff, stomp, squeel, etc. and repeat that meeting over and over again. I'd leave them that way for a week or two and then combine them.
<>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- "When they try to tell you these are your Golden years, don't believe 'em.... It's rust."
After having done this many, many times with all age and types of horses (we have a small TB breeding farm with some warmbloods and a pony), we have found that the main thing the horses end up chasing eachother around for is to smell eachother. Usually the new horse gets running and is afraid to stand still and get sniffed, or may kick. We find that it'sa best to introduce them before turning them out by holding one or both on lead ropes and letting them sniff eachother while the two handlers have them under control and can stop them from biting or kicking. If they can be stalled next to eachother for a few days as well, and turned out in adjacent paddocks, that can really help too. The sniffing thing is a key - much smoother transition when they are turned out. Oh, and make sure to put hay out in two piles that are 20 or so feet apart at first so that they can eat without chasing eachother off or being able to reach eachother if they kick. If they don't settle withing 15 minutes or so, it is probably not going to work. If one is chasing the other and is serious about biting or kicking for more than a few minutes, it is a bad match usually. Good luck!
I just went through this but on a larger scale, I have 3 horses I had to introduce horse #4 into. I did what several on here suggested, I let them see each other over the fence, as Trixi was in quarantine for 3 weeks, if I brought one out I would let them sniff over the fence, correct whoever decided to strike out, then when it came time to let her out with the others I took a deep breath, a glass of wine, then put a whole bale of their favorite hay out, putting the flakes here and there till I had all these small piles all over the place. Took them about an hour and a half to eat all the hay then the fun began.
Once they began to sniff and all, I made sure Trixi had means to run or get out of the way, took about a day and a half for things to quiet down, my QH mare Lucy was the worst, but now they are all pretty much buddies and get along well.
I imagine I am not as good a handler as witherbee; when I was leading a new horse into a field w/other horses she struck and missed my head by about six inches and raked her hoof all down the front of my body. I would never in a million years get near horses introducing themselves to each other as a result!
I second meet over a fence, or even pasture them with a field in between if your set up requires that. I find even if a new horse is a field away they still are able to communicate so that when you do finally put them together there is much less drama.
Do you know how your horse will react to other horses? I usually introduce a new horse first to my lowest-on-the-totem-pole pony who won't challenge anybody, and then add the other horses in the herd gradually. But I also make sure the new horse is not going to be the kind to be really aggressive with the pony either.
You can also put the two potential buddies in side by side stalls for a day or two, to accustom them to each other's scents and sounds. Ideally stalls seperated just by bars for a safe introduction - but over a sturdy fenceline works too.
I also reccomend # of hay piles = (# of horses +1) Sometimes a horse will try and defend two hay piles, and both horses spend more time running around than eating- three usually solves the problem, if they are spaced well apart or on a big circle.
Good luck, not every horse can be repatriated, but its so much nicer if they can!
Do not take anything to heart. Do not hanker after signs of progress. Founder of theRiders with Fibromyalgia clique.