While keeping a horse alone is not ideal, many owners (including myself) have found themselves in a situation where it’s the most practical and economical solution.
Here’s some helpful tips and strategies for keeping a solo horse happy and healthy:
1. Companions for Horses
If another horse is not possible, there are other animals that make suitable pasture mates such as donkeys, sheep, cows, goats, llamas and alpacas.
Keep in mind that they often have different feed or shelter requirements which may make their care more difficult. Do your homework before adding a companion animal!
2. Keep Them Busy
Horses are naturally curious so you can use this to your advantage and provide new items to explore.
The possibilities are endless, but always ensure their “toys” are horse safe. There are several great options on the market now like this Nose-it! Treat Dispenser.
For my food-motivated, yet rather chunky, gelding I use a no calorie Apple Scented Jolly Ball.
3. Slow Feed or Graze
Well-maintained pasture is undoubtedly the best diet for a horse and allows them to graze continuously throughout the day.
For those who don’t have access to year round grass, feeding hay several times a day can help mimic this behavior.
Feeding with a Slow Feeder Hay Net will extend their meal time even further.
💲 This specific brand of Slow Feeder Hay Net is most popular with my readers.
4. Spend Time
A few minutes of attention or a quick grooming session will always be appreciated and the more time you can spend with them the better.
Get their mind working with interesting training exercises both on the ground and under saddle. Clicker Training is great way to teach new skills and keep their attention (I use this extra large clicker with wrist band).
For an extra challenge try working with a Training Activity Ball. Even an old horse can learn new tricks!
💲 You can often get a large Horse Ball on Amazon for under $40. Check today’s price.
5. Hit the Road
Arrange to meet other riders for a trail ride or trailer to a local arena. A change of scenery is nice and gives your horse a chance to socialize.
In my experience, horses greatly benefit from being in the presence of other (calm) horses, even if they aren’t making physical contact. This can be a welcome change for the rider too, since riding alone also has its challenges!
No matter which strategies you choose, always ensure that your horse’s well-being is the top priority.
Some horses thrive living alone but others are anxious or depressed without an equine companion.
Keeping a horse alone can be challenging, but remember, a busy horse is a happy horse.
Here’s a quick review of ideas for keeping a horse alone and happy!
- Suitable companions for horses
- Spend time
- Keep them busy
- Slow feed or graze
- Hit the road
What’s your experience keeping a horse alone?
I kept a Radio on it was in Garage. but near the lot, and my horse spent a lot of time in my back yard next to my bedroom window, and in the large front yard, besides the pasture. She used to look in my window and the cats even made friends with her, I had 3 windows toward the back yard and two to the front. I could find her at all times. She slept next to my bedroom window, rumped up to the house. Which was find with me. She always came running at feeding time, Miss her, she has been gone for quite a while now. But I have pictures.
Just like an only child, I love the advice of getting together with other horses and spending extra quality time with your only lonely. With a little extra love and attention any horse can feel loved even if they are alone!
I have free range chickens that enjoy hanging with the horses, along with soft wind chimes and when I had an “only” horse we used to go fir walks in the neighborhood ( this was on a fairly quite dead end road) but he enjoyed the stroll! Meeting friends and taking in the sites!
I live in a small country town and my horse is in a paddock next to the local bowling club, on a quiet street. She is now friends with almost every dog in town, most of the kids, and comes running to the fence when she thinks she has visitors who may have a treat. She is a keen observer of what goes on in the bowling club, and on the odd occasion when she has got out she never goes far, just grazes on the vacant land across the street until I turn up to put her back in. She seems perfectly happy to be an only child.
Before my neighbors brought a pony to stay with us ( which was a godsend), before I left for work, I’d feed him in his bin, then run down and shake a flake of grass hay along the fence line to mimic grazing for him. He always had a ball and I’d hang an empty milk jug with a couple rocks in it for him to knock around. He was mouthy, so I hung a large leather strap and he chewed on it. I spent as much time with him as I could, hours a day. He loved me scratching his back with my mucking rake! He’s in Heaven now and I miss him every day.
He’s a loner when he’s home but has 18 Guinea hens and 2 border collies to keep him company. He’s at a boarding stable for the winter and I don’t know how he will make out leaving all those horses when I bring him home. I can just keep my fingers crossed when he does.
We’ve had 2 mares for 20 years. They were sisters. One died last week and now I’m not sure if we should get another beastie as a barn buddy for the remaining mare or let her be alone. It’s too soon to tell how she feels, she is looking around, but not vocalizing much. Of course, we are giving her lots of attention and love. Has anyone had a similar situation? Thank you!