Integrating a new horse into an established herd, advice please.

Spot_the_Risk

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We have three geldings who have been together for over two years now, happy settled group, and we have a new loan gelding arriving on Saturday. I can split them into two paddocks (divided by an electric fence) but want them all in together in the end.

To start of with would you turn the new gelding out alone, or with one other? If you decide on one other, would you pick the bottom, middle (this one is shod) or top of the pecking order to go with him? My first thought was bottom (22 years old, likes an easy life but has been bullied when at livery) but now I'm thinking maybe the top (two years old and thinks he's the bee's knees!). The middle is the one he'll be hacking out with in the main.

Decisions, decisions... of course any other advice welcome too!

Oh and of course a couple of photos of the new boy!

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twiggy2

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I would put him out next to the others and just see who spends more time with him, resting at the fence and hanging out grazing near him, then pop them out together next to the others for a week then put them all in together
 

Morgan123

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I'm actually not that big a fan of putting them next to eachother, I always think they'll put a foot through the fence or gate. I've always just turned the new one out with all the others and let them get on with it with plenty of space to mess about; never had a problem. I know others would disagree with that though.

If you want to minimise the running around, I'd probs put him in with the one or two at the bottom of the pecking order first; otherwise your two year old will presumably get excited and initiate running around every time the new one meets each of the others! So he'd be missing the fun b
 

putasocinit

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Unless proper fencing i also do not agree with seperation by tape, whilst this would be the ideal way. Could you get the bossier gelding and walk the two in hand to graze for 5mins then put out in field with others. However geldings do not have a leader like mares, they are all trying to be lead and quite happy for one to lead the others, the mare is always the alpha, so they will probably be fine.
 

Morgan123

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Unless proper fencing i also do not agree with seperation by tape, whilst this would be the ideal way. Could you get the bossier gelding and walk the two in hand to graze for 5mins then put out in field with others. However geldings do not have a leader like mares, they are all trying to be lead and quite happy for one to lead the others, the mare is always the alpha, so they will probably be fine.

No offence but I do disagree with that (and so would my gelding! He is definitely the leader! Despite two mares in our herd). I think it depends entirely on the group dynamics - and TBH you know your herd best.

Introducing in hand also sounds quite risky to me?! Esp with a two year old. I don't know - I just think why not let them run and get on with it; they then have plenty of pace to avoid eachother. Each to their own though of course!
 

CobsGalore

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Whenever I have been to a new yard before, they have always just been chucked out in the field and left to get on with it. As long as there is enough space for them to run around I have never had any problems.

However, at my newest yard, he spent a few weeks next to the herd, separated by post & rail with electric both sides so they couldn't touch. When he was put in with this herd there was not nearly as much running around as there usually is. We had also hacked out with a couple of them too.

I would always do the gradual meeting method by choice after this.
 

putasocinit

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Morgan123, so if you are at a show with the ponies or horses and yours is eating some grass and another competitior brings their horse or pony by yours to eat grass it would be risky, i have never had a problem in my life of horses grazing next to each other whilst being held, at least it is a way for each to feel the other horses presence. Even touching noses, it is still an introduction, a 2 year old will mouth immaturely to the older horse anyway.

In our domestication of horses we have changed the way herds work in the wild where the herd was led by the alpha mare and then the stallion protected the herd from intruders, so yes there can be a gelding in our domestic herd who is leader and protector, mare and stallion, but then your herd has both sexes in it, my post was about a completely gelding herd, which the OP has.
 

Morgan123

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Morgan123, so if you are at a show with the ponies or horses and yours is eating some grass and another competitior brings their horse or pony by yours to eat grass it would be risky, i have never had a problem in my life of horses grazing next to each other whilst being held, at least it is a way for each to feel the other horses presence. Even touching noses, it is still an introduction, a 2 year old will mouth immaturely to the older horse anyway.

In our domestication of horses we have changed the way herds work in the wild where the herd was led by the alpha mare and then the stallion protected the herd from intruders, so yes there can be a gelding in our domestic herd who is leader and protector, mare and stallion, but then your herd has both sexes in it, my post was about a completely gelding herd, which the OP has.

True that the OP only has geldings, but you still get a pecking order! In fact the OP has even outlined their pecking order, which they obviously see as pretty clear?

Depends on the two year year old wghether they'd still be mouthing submissively - they've said their two year old 'thinks he's the bees knees', suggesting he is pretty bright and full of it, so possibly not. I would say compeltely depends on the herd whether it's safe to do that. I know several horses I'd never instroduce in hand (becuase they like growing a few hands and striking out with their front legs!), others that would be fine. It's pretty different at a show where all the horses are new to one another, than introducing another onto their established home turf. In my opinion.
 

EffyCorsten

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Have always turned out together with plenty of room and kept an eye for a a while but I've never had issues with it. Most of the time just squeels and lots posturing maybe the odd kick out. They settle quickly most of the time when they have sorted it out between themselves
 

Suechoccy

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I've always just turned out together, stood back and keep a watch for a while. A bit of initial galloping round, then they settle down to eat in their own spaces with their own mates, and then over time they get to know each other with the squeals and bums-in-faces and other horsey language. In the early days got to be REALLY CAREFUL about feeding them - always pull the newbie out, even if the herd is so well-established that your usual practise is to feed them all in the field.
 

throughtheforest

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I would ALWAYS gradually introduce them into the herd. This minimizes the risk of injury and I would just have him in his own paddock for a few days. They will still all sort out the hierarchy albeit with a bit of distance between them.
 

PollyP99

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I've always just turned out together, stood back and keep a watch for a while. A bit of initial galloping round, then they settle down to eat in their own spaces with their own mates, and then over time they get to know each other with the squeals and bums-in-faces and other horsey language. In the early days got to be REALLY CAREFUL about feeding them - always pull the newbie out, even if the herd is so well-established that your usual practise is to feed them all in the field.

Agree with this only an issue when food is around/scarce otherwise turnout
 

Spot_the_Risk

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Thanks everyone a real mix of opinions. No doubt we'll play it by ear on the day... if I leave the new boy on his own he'll end up completely alone when the other three all take themselves inside to eat round bale haylage, which could be a stress for him - also I don't want him going into the barn with them and feeling trapped. Poor lad is going to have hell of a shock - he's lived for years on 800 acres of moorland, we have five acres!!
 

Pearlsasinger

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I prefer to have the new horse on its own at the other side of a permanent barrier (walls in our case). When they have had a chance to 'meet' over the fence/wall I put them all in together with back shoes removed for safety. I was always taught not to allow horses to touch or get within kicking distance when people are present, so I certainly wouldn't have two grazing in hand until they are used to being in the field together. Hacking together or being stabled next to each other would be a good idea from the beginning..
 

exmoorponyprincess1

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Our lead mare can get stressy with new arrivals but someone told us to put one of her rugs onto our latest new arrival for them meeting for the first time and it worked a treat! The new horse doesn't smell like a threat apparently and whilst it's still a bit exciting to have a new pal, it's not as exciting as it would be because the new person smells familiar. I was sceptical but it did seem to work!
 

risky business

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Iv never done the whole long process of integrating horses by spliting them up/ over the fence stuff.

I normally just turn the newbie out first in the morning, turn the next one out leave for a few mins if they want to run about then turn the rest out slowly so they don't all bombard the new horse at once.

Never had a problem with that, might be a little run about then settle down to graze! Sometimes the other horses don't even care and just continue as normal.
 
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