Just two horses??

Jules_F

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Wales
Hi,

I was hoping for some advise. My husband and I are moving to a house with six acres in June. We intend to move our two horses out of their current livery yard once we are in and set up. What I'm wondering is when we move and it is just the two of them how will they cope?
They are used to being in livery with 10 other horses. They are usually in a field with at least two or three others and always next door to more. My concern is that If there is just the two of them, when I take one out for a ride the other will be stressed out and unhappy.
Has anyone had any experience of just having the two? Clearly there is room for a third, and honestly I'd be pretty tempted by the idea of one more anyway 😄 but I just thought I'd see if other people had had problems having just two in together or if it was fine? Sorry for long post!! Thank you for reading!!
 

ElleSkywalker

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When I moved from living at livery yard to rented cottage with land I only had 2 horses and after putting the feelers out ended up loaning and subsequently buying a Shetland so one didn't have to be left alone while riding the other :)

You could look at loaning from WHW or similar if you don't want to buy another one?
 

Mad_Cow347

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I keep my boy on a private yard with a friends horse. There have been various other horses come and go in the past few years, I think at the most there was 5 of them. They're both happy just the two of them, my boy can be a bit silly when his friend goes out but he only goes seperately for a short ride so we just stick him in his stable but my friends horse couldn't care less when we take my boy out without him. It just depends on your horses really on how you think they'll react.
 

Red-1

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I have had two horses, on three occasions. Once was my horse and a Shetland, the other two were OH's horse Charlie and when I had one too.

They were fine. Could ride out together or alone. No fuss. Could go out eventing on the same lorry and concentrate on competing or go with one going and one left behind. Could go out riding and split up and come back alone.... Even the Shetland could go out on his own long reining around the village or showing in hand and leave the other.

IME they do need training to do this though. If they live in a disciplined world, with firm but fair treatment, and good behaviour is expected, then find there is often little issue. At first mine were too attached so I split them and they took turns going out. Only when they were able to be independent did I allow them out together.

Some horses I am sure don't settle. Prior to having our own place we had one on loan, in a yard with 2 horses. The loan horse was in his 20s, a bit stuck in his ways, and went through a fence when his companion was taken out. So, we started leaving him enclosed in the stable until he got a grip. It did not look pretty at first, but after a month he was fine.

I guess it depends on how important it is to you. It sounds like you would not mind 3 anyway! But then if you want to ride 2 out you would need 4..... so one is not left..... Hence working hard to have ours OK with being left!
 

laura_nash

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I moved to a house with 7.5 acres last summer and took my gelding with me, who previously had always been on livery yards with 10-12 other horses though always on individual turnout (not my preference but all that was available). I have now taken on a rescue pony as a companion and a lead rein for my daughter. When I got the pony one of my priorities was that it wasn't a clingy type as I was worried about separation problems. The one I got was recently gelded and had been living feral for some time prior.

I try and separate them at least once a week min. for a few hours and make a point of separating them as much as possible in general handling (e.g. bring them in separately for dentist etc.). So far the pony couldn't really care less, my gelding has made the odd fuss when the pony is taken out but is easily distracted with food and he is fine if he is the one that is taken away. I think if the pony was also making a fuss and calling for him he would be much worse. Fingers crossed it continues like this. I think it depends a lot on your horses, but also how you handle them so they are used to it and know the other one will come back.

I have known two horses kept together who couldn't be separated, they had been left in together all winter with minimal handling and then when they started making a fuss come spring their owner decided it was easier to always bring them in etc together, which of course just made things worse in the long run.
 

Cortez

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Horses have to learn to be alone. All this "my horse cannot be left alone" stuff really sets my teeth on edge. Yes, they prefer to be in a group. Yes, they are herd animals. But the practicalities of life mean that it is our job to teach horses that they can survive being on their own without having a mental collapse. All of ours have to be able to work alone, so we keep moving them from group situations to solitary ones on a regular basis. The result is that our horses don't stress in either situation and are happy to be out, in, travelling or working alone or in a group. If you want a happy, contented and amenable horse, teach it to cope with life.
 

pippixox

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I don't leave them turned out on their own, but mine can cope alone in the barn, they both tend to call when initially left, and when I return from hack with the other. But they soon start eating! so are not that stressed. I now have 2 more and rarely therefore would leave one alone, but like others, I do make sure they do stuff alone. currently walking the 2 4 yo out individual to practice being alone, and they are doing fine, but if alone in a field they would probably hoon!
 

pippixox

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I agree. I know a few horses who show more strong separation anxiety, but sure it could be reduced. But instead owners take the attitude that they can never be left alone. I knew a horse who when at my yard happily hacked alone with me, leaving the herd of 10 he lived out with. but a few years later somewhere else he apparently has high separation anxiety and struggles to even be led in alone!
 

zaminda

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I moved my horses from an established herd, where they had been for several years with my ex's horses, and it was just the two of them. They coped fine. They did scream a bit when left alone, but soon settled.
 

oldie48

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I have two horses on my own yard and have been in this situation with a different set of twos for several years. All my horses have been OK to hack out without their field companion although my new horse did have a bit of anxiety about it when he first came and wanted to rush home. he's fine now. I generally bring both horses into stables when I'm taking one off for a lesson, hack or school and provided they have some food, they are both fine with this. I have taken one of the horses off for several days at a time and the remaining horse has been unsettled at first but soon gets his head down to eat. Frankly, as I am not there, he just as to get on with it. however,I did have one horse that developed serious separation anxiety. I was quite inexperienced at the time and probably didn't handle it as well as I might have but it escalated to the stage that i couldn't turn out or get in unless both went together as the one horse just completely "lost the plot" and became quite dangerous. I sold him to a professional yard where there were lots of other horses and he was being handled by people much more experienced than I was. i saw him a couple of years later doing a pairs hunter trials class! In company, he was a complete angel, but on his own he struggled. good luck, I'm sure you'll be fine if neither of your horse have shown a tendency to be nappy.
 

PorkChop

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They will be fine, just be prepared for a few unsettled weeks whilst they settle into a new routine - but start as you mean to go on - you have to teach them to be alone.

We have three, but have often had two, and I expect them to be in their stable or field by themselves.

Good luck with the move, I am sure you will love having them at home :)
 

Charlie77

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Mine are fine. I give the one thats left behind a snak a ball as I take the other away. The one thats left never notices the other has gone. It works really well. Though I do have a neighbours horse in the far distance that can usually been seen x
 

FfionWinnie

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Horses have to learn to be alone. All this "my horse cannot be left alone" stuff really sets my teeth on edge. Yes, they prefer to be in a group. Yes, they are herd animals. But the practicalities of life mean that it is our job to teach horses that they can survive being on their own without having a mental collapse. All of ours have to be able to work alone, so we keep moving them from group situations to solitary ones on a regular basis. The result is that our horses don't stress in either situation and are happy to be out, in, travelling or working alone or in a group. If you want a happy, contented and amenable horse, teach it to cope with life.
Amen to that.
 

picolenicole

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We had two years ago and they didn't mind being apart, after our old horse was PTS King was alone for a long time (he could see other horses and rode out with friends as much as we could) but was in a field alone. After getting a better paid job, OH said I could have a second pony :) I now have two again. I did worry King would be very upset if his new friend was taken away, but he doesn't mind, calls a few times then goes back to eating (bonus of having a fat cob)

At first when we took King away Chance (22years old) was very upset, but calmed down if anyone went in the field with him, I just started by bringing King in where Chance could see him, once he was ok with that I went to taking King out of sight. Waiting until Chance was stood still then coming back, I wouldn't come back into sight until he had calmed down a bit. Now then both call each other and go back to eating. Strange thing is I could take Chance out, and go riding and he didn't and still doesn't not call to King. Same with King its as if they know the are "doing their job" and have to do what is expected.

As Cortez said they can and have to learn to be alone sometimes and it does make life much easier for you as well, I'm sure you're two will be fine and surprise you. Good luck wish I could have my two at home :)
 

TGM

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We have three, but often take two out together so it is common for one to be left alone at times, often all day if we are out competing or hunting. They do learn to adapt and cope with it, even if they are unsettled to begin with.
 

poiuytrewq

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Two horses for me would be a nightmare!
I got a Shetland free to good home advert on Facebook.
He's never sick or sorry, costs very very little to keep and is worth his weight in gold.
He's a fab little character too 😍
 

Jules_F

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Wales
Hi,

Thank you all for your replies :)

I think we will move them and see how we all get on. Inevitably we will end up with other animals anyway, (husband is a vet, we have had many the orphan sheep in our back garden) so maybe we will just adopt a couple of sheep or alpaca to be a permanent feature. I still might use it as an excuse for a third horse, I have always fancied a miniature shetland...:D
 

Michen

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Personally I think it would be barbaric to leave either of them on their own for any length of time. For the welfare of the horses you simply MUST get a third. ;)
 

Evie91

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I had two at home. Horse came from livery yard, has always been bottom of the herd, never any friends as such (no mutual grooming, no horse she would shout to), usually found grazing on her own, away from herd but with others in sight. Pony has lived on her own (not whilst owned by me) and had been living with one other.
At first really went well ( when horse on box rest, pony went out alone during the day, in at night)but then they got really attached.
The one I took out would be fine, the one left in would shout. I would take them out - walking in hand - alone but the one left was never happy!
Horse recently died. Pony now in livery and back to how she was before. Will stay out alone, will stay in alone. Has friends but not joined at the hip!
My horse was retired when she came home and pony was companion/lead reinso never an issue but think it would have been difficult if they had been in work.
 

Nudibranch

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I have just the two at the moment, the 4 yo is absolutely fine to leave alone as he has been set up for it since I got him at weaning. Even turned out, he'll whinny once then head down to graze. The TB will run himself to a lather if left out alone but as he spent his former life on a racing yard it's not surprising. However he is getting used to being left in the barn and now just neighs a few times then waits for his friend to return. If they are never left alone for a moment they wont learn to cope. Little and often and build on that is the way forward.
 

spacie1977

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Sounds like a perfect opportunity to give a retired horse a companion home. Or maybe rescue a donkey? I wouldn't go for a Shetland due to possible laminitis issues, but something happy to live out sounds like it would be perfect. On the other hand, horses don't necessarily need other horses to keep them company. Lots would be happy left alone with a sheep or a couple of chickens.
 
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