Can horses be kept alone?

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Hi all I am a new horse owner we purchased a 13.1 cob 4 months ago for myself and my teenage daughter to share. Lets say she's not as easy as when we first viewed her she needs schooling and also she can be bad mannered at times but also she can be a little sweetheart.
We currently keep her at a yard on DIY livery which we are coping with and have weekly lessons on her so I think she will come good eventually. What I do find a problem and think adds to the stress of training her is all the other girls input and sometimes interference on how she should behave and what I need to do etc. she is currently in a field with two other mares and is ok with them she is also sometimes on her own in field and she seems ok with this too. I have the opportunity to rent a house which has stables and a paddock which is one acre, I'm considering taking this property as I feel we can spend so much more time with her and build on our relationship without the interference of others. There is hacking around but no school but I can always box her to a school eventually. My dilemma is I have read its cruel to have a horse on their own for various reasons any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Sorry this thread is so long but I just wanted to put as much info as I can.

Thank you x
 
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I wouldn't do it.

It's different if the horse is on individual turnout, but surrounded by horses that they can see and say hello to over the fence, but completely alone - no. My personal preference is herd turnout in a stable herd.

Other people giving 'advice' is one of the things you learn to deal with.
 

Arizahn

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Stay where you have the support network, all that advice may come in handy one day! Or if they are simply annoying and not actually helpful, give them jobs to do for you - they will get bored sharpish! I doubt that it would help your mare to be kept alone, it would be stressful and dull for her, which would lead to worse behaviour overall :)

Can we have a picture of her please?
 
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Hmmm, some horses CAN live alone perfectly happily. I've got my own place and due to being let down when I'd tried to arrange for another horse to share his field when he first arrived, he had to live on his own until we could sort something out, and was PERFECTLY happy. To explain though, there are a lot of other horses around the general area, e.g. always in earshot, so it wasn't like being totally isolated - but there weren't any horses actually around for him to talk to at the time.

He'd come from a trekking centre, so had been used to other horses around, but quickly got to realise that the grass in the field was all for HIM and no-one else!!! He was a very happy contented horse and seemed to deal with it.

Now he's got a mare in with him and is loving that too!

But if a horse has any sort of "issue" I'd be very cautious about taking it away from an established herd to live solo. A friend did this, and the horse went through the fence one night, jumped a gate, luckily without injury, and ended up in the farmer's field next door! This particular horse had come from a big livery yard.

Some horses can deal with being solo and are perfectly OK, others can't, and the danger is that you won't know until you do it. The choice of companion is important too; a bad choice can mean a horse is bullied or worse still will learn bad habits like windsucking or breaking out even, so if getting a companion it needs to be the right choice.

My boy has benefited enormously from being turned out with a mare; she's improved him immensely and has basically dealt with some of his politeness (or lack of it!) issues - truly a reformed character now!
 

dogatemysalad

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Some horses manage ok or seem to but it isn't generally advisable. Horses are herd animals and function best with companions of their own kind. Your horse does well with other horses so to keep her alone would not be in her best interests.
It wouldn't really be in your best interests either, although you feel hampered by others sticking their noses in, going it alone, particularly when you are having a few issues, would be hard.
Perhaps you could find another yard to keep her where you have support rather than interference ?
 

chestnut cob

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I hate seeing horses kept alone. They are herd animals and when they don't have others to keep them company, they will be on constant alert. Individual turnout is one thing as they'll have other horses over the fence to see/touch/play with but being totally alone would be pretty lonely.

I'd also advise against it because you've said you are a first-time owner. Yes it can be tricky on a livery yard where people always have an opinion, but you'd do better IMHO to take on board those comments rather than isolate yourself completely. I hate to sound harsh but are you sure you have enough knowledge to know how to sort out any problems, or to recognise signs of illness, lameness (what about early signs of things like laminitis?)? You are having issues at the moment and TBH I wouldn't be surprised if they escalated once the pony is alone all of the time.

Rather than jump ship to either a new yard or to be alone, maybe take a step back and look objectively - is the criticism / commenting justified? What could you learn from the comments being made? You talk about training the horse but I think you also need to think in terms of training for you too, which you won't get when you're alone. If the horse is bad mannered then it might even be worth considering moving to a full or part livery yard where you have more input from the YO (and other liveries will be less likely to interfere).
 
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No they shouldn't be kept alone, full stop. There may be reasons for individual fields eg if a horse is aggressive if kept in the same field, but they must at minimum be able to scratch and groom with another horse over a fence.

The welfare code for horses states that they must have company of their own kind.

Would recommend loaning a small companion from a horse charity if you don't want other peoples horses/people around.

But don't leave them alone except when unavoidable eg when one dies and you are finding a new companion to replace it there will be a gap.
 

9tails

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Don't do it. Your relationship with the horse will disintegrate as she will likely be very stressed on her own. A scared horse or pony wsn't one you will enjoy spending time with.

Regarding the liveries, smile and nod then get on with what you were doing. Don't get involved in why you do it a particular way, they don't care and want you to do it their way.
 

Buddy'sMum

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Don't do it. While some horses can get used to being on their own, it's far from ideal. You don't know your pony well enough yet to know she'll react to being on her own. Livery yards have their drawbacks to be sure but so does having your own place. At your yard, you have a support system if you're ill or going away on hols - you won't have at your own place. Also, you'll really miss having a school, especially with winter coming up. Much safer for you and your daughter to do battle with a pony having a paddy in a school than out on the roads. So for now stick with it and keep having your weekly lessons.
 

hnmisty

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My old girl was kept on her own for 8 of the almost 12 years I had her. She wasn't very social with other horses (apart from the odd one she'd become obsessed with). Even after I'd had her and Harry for almost 4 years she wasn't particularly interested (or appeared not to be, she was very upset when he died).cmy neighbour had a horse she could sometimes see, depending on what field he was in.

She had sheep for company, and loved them- when they lambed she would stand over them protecting them.

It's down to the individual really. We knew she would be kept on her own, and luckily she was perfectly happy to have no equine company. I had a horse (ex-RDA) on trial who freaked because I rode him in my neighbour's arena and he couldn't see any other horses.
 
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The problem with horses is that they can outwardly look very calm, but actually they are very stressed. Did anyone else watch the programme about training Police horses where they were wearing heart monitors and it showed how their hearts were really racing even though they looked indifferent at the various stimuli? In fact the horses that made the most fuss and looked the most stressed actually had lower heart rates than the 'calm' ones.

It's to do with being a prey animal apparently.

Therefore I have to agree with the 'seem to cope alone' comments.

Once again, individual turnout surrounded by other horses is different from being the only horse in the area.
 
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mightymammoth

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I hate seeing horses on their own, can't you loan a couple of cheap to run minis from the blue cross/world horse welfare/rspca or any other horse charity near you.

If your circumstances change or things go pear shaped you can return the horses without worrying what will happen to them.
 
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I hate seeing horses on their own, can't you loan a couple of cheap to run minis from the blue cross/world horse welfare/rspca or any other horse charity near you.

If your circumstances change or things go pear shaped you can return the horses without worrying what will happen to them.
Thank you all for your comments all been very useful. I'm not going to go alone as mentioned in one reply we are not experienced enough yet. Yes I know I need the support it just gets very frustrating when you are doing all you can do and we have grown attached to our horse and then some people tell you she's no good etc. we are going to persevere and get all the help we need from professional instructors . Don't get me wrong some girls on the yard are great and supportive but I suppose there are always those who think they know it all lol xx
 

madlady

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I'd say stick with the livery yard for now and ignore the nasty comments. Some people will genuinely want to help while others will just want to put you down.

I would still take on the house with the stables though, when the time is right and you feel you have enough experience you could then move her home and get a companion or offer someone else a place then you will have someone to ride with :)
 
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Have now decided to keep her at yard and gain more experience and knowledge and maybe one day can move her to our own home as in couple of years and also get my young daughter her own pony then she will have company :)
 
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it just gets very frustrating when you are doing all you can do and we have grown attached to our horse and then some people tell you she's no good etc.
I completely sympathise. Horse people can be really helpful, kind, encouraging and wonderful, but there are some that are interfering and unhelpful. I had negative comments about one of my horses for several years because she was chestnut *sigh* and in the end it really bugged me because people went on and on and on.

It's easy to say, but I know that it's hard to do - but try not to let them get you down.
 

Goldenstar

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I think saying its cruel is a little overstating it but it's certainly less than ideal.
I know someone who always has one horse only and her horses do just fine they are happy horses they do how ever get a lot and I mean a lot of attention .
But on the other hand I bought a horse who was kept alone and he was completely insane whe he reached our yard he had no idea how to behave with others and I would have had him PTS if a dealer friend of mine had not suggested putting him on regumate which solved the issue , so that suggested while outwardly ok he really had been badly affected by it.
 
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GS - I don't understand how what happened to the horse in your post, who was seriously effected mentally by the isolation, couldn't be described as cruel? Mental cruelty rather than physical cruelty, of course.
 

claribella

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Hi all I am a new horse owner we purchased a 13.1 cob 4 months ago for myself and my teenage daughter to share. Lets say she's not as easy as when we first viewed her she needs schooling and also she can be bad mannered at times but also she can be a little sweetheart.
We currently keep her at a yard on DIY livery which we are coping with and have weekly lessons on her so I think she will come good eventually. What I do find a problem and think adds to the stress of training her is all the other girls input and sometimes interference on how she should behave and what I need to do etc. she is currently in a field with two other mares and is ok with them she is also sometimes on her own in field and she seems ok with this too. I have the opportunity to rent a house which has stables and a paddock which is one acre, I'm considering taking this property as I feel we can spend so much more time with her and build on our relationship without the interference of others. There is hacking around but no school but I can always box her to a school eventually. My dilemma is I have read its cruel to have a horse on their own for various reasons any suggestions greatly appreciated.

Sorry this thread is so long but I just wanted to put as much info as I can.

Thank you x

I wouldn't do it either. It is cruel as they are herd animals and my worr would be that your pony might go one way or the other. What. Mean is that he could get severely depressed or he could get harder to handle and you don't want either. Due to one reason and Another my mare is in an area by herself at the moment but she can see the other horses and touch over the fence but she's not as happy and content as usual and when we are out she not as relaxed. Whether visible or not I don't think horses like being on their own a all.



Could you not get a mini pony or a Shetland to live with your pony. That way tour horse would have company but it wouldn't affect your land as much as a another pony would?

Finally, whilst its not great having every Tom dick and Harry giving out advise, I found that it was good when I wasn't sure. I listen to their ideas but ultimately I'd make a final decision and in times of uncertainty, having others around can be a god send.

Good luck with your decision:)
 

lurcherlu

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Breeze has always been kept with 1 or 2 other mares until I so,d be and went on livery with her, she had individual turnout and seemed to thrive, no more attaching herself so badly to other horses she couldn't stable lane etc, now she is at mums, individual turnout but stabled at night ith a tiny stable partition wall so her and our Shetland can groom each other, they do occasionally get together and although they lie the company they soi. Get bored and put themselves I. Their own stables again. Breeze thrives off of human company
 

starryeyed

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Have now decided to keep her at yard and gain more experience and knowledge and maybe one day can move her to our own home as in couple of years and also get my young daughter her own pony then she will have company :)
I think this is probably the best plan of action for now. As others have said, keeping a horse alone is definitely not ideal and can cause so many behavioural problems which you definitely don't want! It's completely un-natural for them and while some will cope, I think it's extremely unfair to expect a horse to be on it's own when it should be with others. There will sadly always be people who will say unnecessary things or word things wrongly so that they come out sounding awful - just try to put their comments to one side and listen to the kinder knowledgable members of the yard who will be there to help you out and advise you when you need it. Good luck with your horse, let us know how you get on together - working together with a new horse and getting to know it is so rewarding, I'm sure she'll be a superstar for you! x
 
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Hello, I recently bought my first horse - a gorgeous 10 year old tb mare! From a very busy yard with horses but was kept in a field on her own occasionally. We have a paddock in our garden with stabes, shelter, feed store, tack room etc, because we used to keep shetlands. She has it all to herself now and she's getting on great on her own! We have two dogs that often keep her company during the day but most of the time im with her as she LOVES one to one human attention, she behaves perfectly, always happy, never had a problem with her going 'mad' or anything. We often hack out and she isn't bothered by other horses at all! But I do have a stables down the road that we use most days.

It's very horse/owner dependent, but imo my mare is getting on brilliantly - so is our bond!

Take the time to get to know your horse first...

But I have to say you will definitely miss the atmosphere of being at a yard!
 

jendie

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I'd think twice before leaving the security of the yard where instruction and help are on hand. Ignore the silly girls and their unhelpful comments. If, when you have more experience,you do decide to leave would get small companion such as a mini shet to keep your girl company No horse should be isolated.
 

madmav

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I used to ride a horse that was kept on his own, no other horses around. He was quite happy, but a very placid, ploddy character, so think he would have been happy on the moon. As for getting a companion, what happens to the companion when you take first horse out for a ride or to a show? So, you really need two little companions. You're going to end up with a herd! Stay where you are!
 

Goldenstar

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GS - I don't understand how what happened to the horse in your post, who was seriously effected mentally by the isolation, couldn't be described as cruel? Mental cruelty rather than physical cruelty, of course.
He was a very dominant horse he may well have been like that before of course in fact I do know he had been a problem with others when they had another on the farm .
But even though he was a complete b*****d he was dangerous until i got it sorted my friends horses have been even and happy but they work hard and have very busy full lives .
Mine after one summer on the regumate became manageable but I turned him out alone and kept him in the isolation stable .
 

SuperH

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It depends on the individual horse.

I have had two who have been very happy on their own. One really hated other horses and much preferred humans or sheep as companions, she was clearly miserable with other equines and it did her the world of good to be taken away from them (she didn't even like to see them). The other wasn't fussed either way.

Out of the two I have at the moment one would hate being on her own, the other isn't too bothered as she is happy with the cows but she does enjoy other equine company if it is on offer.

Horses are individuals, you have to do what is right for them.
 
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Sorry, haven't read all the replies so not sure if this is included but a horse on its own has been 'singled out' from the herd by the predator as its prey. That means they are on constant alert (though not to us humans who think they are fine). I have just bought a new boy, he has spent the last three weeks being on his own and seemingly fine, chilled and relaxed. He would groom me when I groomed him, be on alert and I noticed there wasn't any marks on the grass that he'd actually lay down for a snooze. On Monday, my friends horse arrived. Within less than 24hrs they are both grooming each other and finally, I think he's had a snooze lying down. They are herd animals, and where possible, we should try and let them be part of a herd.
 
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