How To Introduce A New Horse To The Herd

Stress in horses can manifest itself in a myriad of ways: some horses develop ulcers, while others begin to weave, crib or enact other stereotypies. Stressed horses can even become aggressive toward other horses, taking out their feelings of unrest on others in their barn or herd.

Aggression issues often manifest during turnout, when horses are free to interact with one another. Introducing a new horse to an established herd can be stressful to all horses involved, not just the newcomer. The introduction should be done as slowly and methodically as possible. This can be done multiple ways:

  • Place the new horse in a solid enclosure or field next to the new horses so he can see the other horses from a distance or “meet” them over a fence line. Once the majority of the drama has died down, turn the new horse out with the herd for short periods of time, slowly increasing the duration of time he is out with the herd. If the herd lives out 24/7, remove the new horse from the field at night.
  • Another option to safely introduce a new horse to a herd is to divide the herd into two groups, splitting the number of horses that can gang up on the newbie. Once the dust has settled with one group, the two groups can be combined.
  • If time is available, introducing the new horse one-by-one to every other herd member can make the transition as seamless as possible.

It’s important to note that some horses may never be able to mingle safely with others. These anti-social animals were typically not socialized properly as foals or grew up in seclusion. These horses often become overly aggressive or become so timid they won’t approach the feed or water. These horses will most likely feel comfortable being able to see other horses, but having no direct physical contact with them.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

The post How To Introduce A New Horse To The Herd appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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