Horses Are Herd Animals

Horses Are Herd Animals

When we bought Valentine in February 2006, I was pretty sure it would be a while before we’d consider buying another horse. Let’s get comfortable with learning about one horse before we go getting more, I thought. When I picked him up that frigid Valentine’s eve this year he was in a pasture with two or three other horses. When he arrived at our place, we had another gelding in the pasture from someone who was boarding here. Valentine and Blaze got along very well and everyone was happy. Several weeks later, the Blaze’s owner moved and took Blaze with him leaving Valentine all alone in the pasture. As Blaze was rolling away in a horse trailer, Valentine looked sad. I know we try to humanize horses and guess what they’re thinking and feeling but over the next few days it seemed obvious Valentine was lonely. We’ve since learned that horses are herd animals, a hold-over from the days when they ran wild.

Some quick Internet research proved this point. According to Wikipedia, wild horse herds are really groups of small bands of three to twelve or more horses. Being a part of a group is an instictive survival technique which provides safety in numbers and breeding opportunities. Our Valentine may not have been emotionally sad about Blaze leaving but it’s likely he was nervous about being in our pasture alone.

The way to remedy this situation? Well first off, we could have just lived with it. There are plenty of horse owners out there with only one horse. But as I said, we wanted another horse anyway. Short of buying another horse, I’ve heard of other herd animals being introduced into the pasture. Goats, llamas, cows and mules, for instance. We have our reasons for not wanting to go that route so the next logical choice was to start looking for another horse…which we found. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve already suspected this, I’m sure.
I’ll tell the story of my new horse, my first horse actually, in a separate post.

Wikipedia source info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_behavior

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