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Introducing a New Horse to The Herd
 By Winniefield Park   •   28th Jun 2017   •   1,045 views   •   0 comments


Bringing a new horse home is exciting for you. But it might be a bit too exciting for other horses that you already own. Just turning a new horse out with an existing Ďherdí is unlikely to result in nonchalance by the rest of them. They will certainly be curious, and they might feel threatened and regard the newcomer as an interloper. There will probably be some squealing, kicking and wheeling about at top speed. And, it can take several days before the new herd hierarchy is settled upon and everyone knows and respects their own place in the pecking order.

To prevent physical and mental stress on the horses, and mental stress on you, itís best to introduce a newcomer slowly. There are people who just put a newbie in with a pasture full of horses who been living together for some time. In some places, this is common practice. Most do it without too much trauma. If the horses have lots of room to maneuver in, lots of feed so there is no fighting over resources, and youíre willing to risk a horse injuring itself, you can probably get away with this.

But not everyone has a ten or twenty-acre field to turn horses out in, and in smaller paddocks, the chance that someone will get kicked, go sliding into a fence or get chased through the bale feeder increase. These things and many others tend to happen anyway, even without the catalyst of an exciting, but perhaps unwelcome herd member. And, it becomes more important to protect from injury if you donít want its coat marked up, or would like to lessen the possibility of it being lamed. And certainly, if it is old, very young, or itís mobility is compromised in any way, you will want to take extra care.

The slower, but less risky way of introducing a new horse to the herd is to let it, and the rest of the horses see each other, but not actually get close enough to physically engage. This on its own can be quite stimulating for some horses, and there will be lots of neighing and galloping around. Once everyone has settled down and got used to the looks of each other, you can put them in neighboring paddocks. Things will probably not escalate too much, although there is a chance someone will play or fight over the fence. So, itís wise To keep a close eye on how things proceed.

When everyone looks calm, the horses can all be turned out together. There will probably still be some scuffling as once they are truly together, the real sorting out of the pecking order will begin. It can take weeks sometimes for all the horses to reorganize their herd.

Going slow at first is also wise because it might help minimize injury, but itís also a good idea to make sure the newcomer isnít carrying any diseases or bugs. A few days of quarantine will ensure that things like colds, lice, strangles and other problems are kept isolated to one horse.
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