We all feel lonely from time to time and, while your horse probably appreciates your human companionship, he or she will need company of their own for when you’re not there. And, although owning more than one animal can be expensive to maintain, leaving a horse alone can make it likely to partake in pacing, compulsive chewing and other pieces of unruly and bored behavior all related to stress and boredom which can be unhealthy.
The situation of the horse without a friend is not dissimilar to that of a lonely human. Inevitably, a horse will become restless, lonely, depressed, despondent, and ultimately unresponsive to its owner given a long enough period without companionship. Just like humans, they’re herd creatures who thrive on the company around them.
That’s why it’s important to find your horse a friend, or what is generally referred to as a companion horse, for those regular intervals when you’re not there to keep them company. In doing this, you will find a pet that is less bored both mentally and physically, and you will, therefore, get the most enjoyment out of your time together.
Invite another horse owner to share your pasture
One potential way to gain a friend for your horse is to rent out your pasture for another horse owner to share. This has the doubly beneficial effect of giving you a little extra income as well as finding an appropriate partner for your horse.
Look for a free companion horse
While horses for professional riding or dressage are costly, it’s important to bear in mind that the primary function of your companion horse is to keep another horse company. This makes it a far easier prospect to find an equine pal for free, as many people are looking to give away their animals to a good home.
The Adoption Option
The RSPCA took in their highest ever number of abandoned horses last year, with 760 of the creatures found by the charity in 2012 alone. They also reported that calls to the horse sanctuary Redwings regarding abandoned horses were up by 75% in the year.
It goes to show that by taking in a horse, you wouldn’t simply be giving your current pet some friendship; you’d be helping an animal in need. It is important to bear in mind that by adopting a horse who may have been under high levels of stress, you will have to be conscious that it could be more nervous or easily scared by seemingly minor occurrences.
If you can, check out local horses for adoption at their foster homes, the rescue center, or animal shelter. Ask ask about, Foster to Adopt, programs that will give you a chance to try out an horse at your place with your horse for a limited time before signing the adoption forms.
Try another animal for your horse
Naturally, the ideal option for horse companionship is another horse, but if that isn’t an option available to you, then another animal can be a good alternative. While dogs or calves are not especially recommended, horses have been known to get on with other animals quite well.
Goats are an especially good fit for your horse, providing a fine alternative, and the two species have been known to get on very well in some situations. And, there possibly isn’t anything cuter than seeing a horse befriending a tiny goat. It’s enough to make your heart melt.
However, your best bet in terms of non-horse companions would be the donkey, given its similarly equine background.
While they need trimming and deworming just like a horse, their smaller frame makes the upkeep far less expensive. They also consume less hay than horses and come at a much cheaper price, making them a great alternative in finding your horse a pal. Same goes with a small pony.
It’s highly important to bear in mind that there is no guarantee of your horse taking to a companion, no matter what species they are. Again, just like humans, horses have likes and dislikes, and they may not immediately like the company of your chosen companion.
In this instance, it’s important to give the animals time to socialize and get used to each other.
It will be necessary for you to supervise the two for a while, as it’s not unknown for animals to be highly aggressive towards each other upon first meeting, in displays of brutality that have ended in death.
It is a process that takes patience and conscientiousness for both animals’ safety. But, with the right levels of time, you can be satisfied that your animals have companions and an improved quality of life. Less loneliness equals less stress and better health for you horse.