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Solo Horses: Cruel or Feasible?
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Meg
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Joined: Mon Sep 10th, 2007
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 Posted: Sun Oct 28th, 2007 04:15 am
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My 17 YO Saddlebred mare has always been in a herd with at least one other horse.  While I do not have to change her current boarding situation, where she is with another horse, I am contemplating it, as she would be outside my window and she and I could be with eachother so much more.  She has typically been in the bottom half of the pecking order.  Her history is that she has been herdbound to other horses and frantic in their absence.  Intellectually, I see her being a solo horse as an opportunity to expand our relationship, especially since I am actively studying and I hope accurately applying principles and practice from the Birdie Book.

If I brought her "home" my plan would be to spend time with her each hour (other than when I sleep), either walking with her, or just being with her, or doing some ground work, to help establish us as a herd of 2.  We have never been a herd and I wonder if this would be the silver lining to what could appear (to her) to be a cloud.  She is has the kind of personality where she could bond closely with a human.  That has not happened with us because my learning curve has been steep, and I had another horse until the past year which was alot easier personality, so I focused on him.  I  believe we have made strides in forging a deeper relationship, and using Birdie Book principles and strategies, I see her looking to me more for leadership.

Given the above, and that I want to do the best for her over personal convenience, is it appropriate to attempt bringing her "home" and what suggestions might you have for the transition?

 

Jean in Alaska
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 Posted: Sun Oct 28th, 2007 04:44 pm
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Hi Meg,

This is Jean up in Fairbanks, AK!  I just anwered your private message, but wanted to chime in here, too. 

I think you might consisder  an animal companion such as a goat, to keep her company and you would still be able to develope the closeness you want.   Do you have other animals? Even a chicken or a cat or dog that would hang around her when you aren't there would be comforting.

If you are able to visit with her every hour ( you don't work?) you certainly will develope a close relationship.


Tasha
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 Posted: Mon Oct 29th, 2007 12:38 am
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Are you wanting to spend more time with her or are you wanting to isolate her from her herd to step around the problem of her being herd bound? If the former, get her company if you take her away from her boarding buddies, no human is a complete substitute for equine company. If the latter, deal with the problem where she is now.

Horses and humans do form bonds. However a horse not wanting to be anywhere else but with you is in a far different state than one that is entirely dependent on you for it's company. One has a choice the other doesn't.

danee
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 Posted: Mon Oct 29th, 2007 02:08 am
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I think using this as a temporary situation might be nice, but lets face it- you aren't going to spend 16 hours with her a day everyday!!!!  We have taken in difficult fearful horses where we isolate them in a dry lot and take them food and water eery few hours and hang with them while they eat, rub on them some, play a little and leave.  This really helps to rehabilitate broken trust- but we do it for two weeks- not as a permanent situation. We also make sure we have the time that horse needs.

 

If you were to bring your horse home by herself with no other companion you would need to be their the majority of the day- even more than we did with problem horses as we used the "alone" time to make tham that much happier about having a human show up- we didn't expect the horse to be happy and content during those times.

 

I don't think ALL horses would be miserable by themselves, but they really should have SOME kind of companion (like Jean mentioned) and it is usually the real leaders that feel safe on thier own.  By taking your mare away from other horses entirerly, it may make her act REALLY REALLY batty when she does see other horses, since she already has herd bound issues.

 

Just my $.02

Meg
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 Posted: Mon Oct 29th, 2007 06:21 am
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The idea of keeping her on the property I'm renting -- versus keeping her in the current boarding situation -- is multi-fold...the property is large enough for some rotational grazing; I could spend lots more time with her...not only several hours a day, but quick visits throughout the day...and because I'd be in control of her horsekeeping.

I am not up for owning another horse.  The idea of taking on a boarder is a possibility.  Or getting a barnyard buddy as Jean suggested.

It's so great to get input from a wide range of horse people.  It's helping me explore all aspects of whether this is reasonable and just for her before taking action.

ozgaitedhorses
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Joined: Mon Apr 30th, 2007
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 Posted: Mon Oct 29th, 2007 11:08 pm
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Hi Meg!
You know that your mare frets without her buddies.
If you bring her home, she will fret 24 hours a day! Now, you might be able to keep her company for a couple of those hours, but what about the rest of the time? What about over night? Do you really want to put her through this?
She might get used to being alone after a while - but wouldn't it be better to either first make sure she's happy to be alone, or not put her in that situation to begin with?
All the best,
Manu


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