Horses are beautiful, intelligent, obedient, and loyal animals. They provide incredible emotional support to their owners, but don’t fool yourself into thinking your company is enough for your horse. Horses need companionship. They like to be surrounded by other animals and tend to develop behavioral problems if they’re isolated for too long. Read on to learn everything you need to know about horse companionship.
Why Horses Need Companionship
Horses are social creatures that like to be in the company of other animals. In the wild, horses live in small herds. They are usually found in groups of mares, young ones, and at least one male horse. Being in a group is an instinct to ensure survival and allow for social behaviors like mutual grooming. Providing your horse with companionship is imperative for their physical and emotional well-being.
How to Tell if Your Horse Is Stressed
Just as you can read the signs of anger or pain in your horse, you can read their language for depressed behavior. A horse that is stressed because of a lack of companionship is likely to show behaviors such as:
- Whinnying or vocalization
- Weaving and stall walking
- Restlessness and pacing
- Showing a lack of reactions
- Unwillingness to eat or drink
How to Give Your Horse a Companion
Horses need other horses. Ideally, a horse should always be able to see and touch an equine companion. Owning another horse, however, can be costly because as the number of horses increases, so do the costs for food, veterinary care, boarding, and other expenses. If you’re looking for a BFF for your horse, but an additional equine is not on your shopping list, here are some ideas on how to go about it.
Look for a Free Companion Horse
Many people are glad to find good homes for horses that are getting older or unable to be ridden. Rescuing a horse may be just what you need. You can search online horse classifieds, contact a horse rescue, or ask around for a free companion horse. While you’ll still have to pay for the companion horse’s upkeep, you will save on the initial cost of buying one. If you get a horse with special needs, be sure you’re able to provide the extra care they need.
Offer Boarding Services
If you have space and time to care for another horse, offering boarding to other horse owners is a great way to give your horse the companionship it needs without the extra expense. Plus, by offering boarding, your pasture might make a little money to support your four-legged friend. Because not all horses get along, be careful with your choice and make sure the boarders know what the expectations are.
Choose a Non-Equine Companion
In the absence of another horse, a horse will naturally develop a bond with other types of animals around them. If you can’t or don’t want to house multiple horses, try to find a non-equine friend for your horse. Animals that usually do well with horses include:
- Donkeys and mules
- Ponies or miniature horses
When choosing a companion, consider their nutritional needs, ideal living habitat, and parasite and disease control.
Horses are social animals and should never be expected to live their lives alone. They greatly benefit from the companionship, mutual grooming, and protection they get from living with their own kind. If you have no other option for another horse, there are other animals that make great mates for horses.