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Buddy sour or just adjusting to new situation?

I have a 3 yr old ottb who has been the only horse on the property for the last three weeks. He was agitated being by himself the first couple days but settled in nicely.

My outdoor arena isn’t done so I hack out in the pasture and he has been a doll. Green yes, but very responsive and progressing quickly.

I brought home a semi-retired older horse yesterday as a companion and it was love at first sight. They were turned out in adjacent paddocks and he had a total meltdown when I brought in the old guy first. They had only been out next to each for several hours.

I stalled the old guy this afternoon to ride. Old guy does call for ottb some.

Ottb was distracted at first while lunging but settled down and listened pretty well, lunging is done fairly close to barn. Mounted up and went to ride out in field and ottb was a mess the whole time. I was surprised he was even willing to ride away from the barn. Was able to walk/trot but even with lots of transitions and circles etc he never truly focused and came close to melt down several times.

Both horses were out with a group where they were at previously, but neither displayed any herd bound behavior.

With that long background :), my question is should I be worried about both but especially the ottb being herd bound? Or is it likely that once both settle into the routine my ottb will be back to his happy, responsive self when removed from the other horse?

Aka just how worried should I be on day 2?

3 weeks is a very long time for a horse to go without seeing another horse. I’m betting he’s not sure he is going to get to keep his new found friend and once this pattern of “come in, work, go out with buddy” is established, that he will settle down.

Don’t worry too much. It might be worth while to have shorter workouts, possibly more than once daily if need be (to get everything you want to achieve, done), so that he doesn’t develop bad habits or new avoidance behaviors during this transitional period.

Thanks yourcolorfuladdiction. I am hopeful that he will realize that his friend isn’t going anywhere and this anxiety will decrease. I turned out the friend first this morning which cued immediate stall pacing and vocalization.

I like the idea of multiple short sessions per day and perhaps this will reinforce that the buddy is not going to be taken away more quickly.

Update. Day 4.

Current approach. I know this is a transition phase for both critters but am trying to proactively combat long term problems with separation anxiety - would love to hear any input people have!

The boys have been separated into adjacent paddocks for turnout and stalled next to each other but they can’t see each other. OTTB is out in big pasture and has slowly increased his distance from old guy but has not wandered over the hill out of sight yet. Unfortunately I can’t separate them any further than this other than one outside and one in the barn. I hesitate to do this because I know OTTB will work himself into a lather and since he has a winter coat and it is chilly I worry about him getting sick. Old guy gets agitated and calls a lot but doesn’t appear to be a danger to himself the way ottb is. With them able to call for each other I imagine the wait it out process would be at least several days long.

I’ve been doing several short sessions per day of different scenarios of separation. Leaving old guy in pasture and taking ottb into barn, leaving old guy in barn and walking around property w/ ottb. At first he couldn’t handle more than a couple seconds out of sight from old guy but he is progressing. Now he is pretty good and even relaxes for grooming out of sight until old guy calls for him (which is pretty frequently) re-activity to calling has decreased but is still hit and miss.

OTTB gets turned out first and has to wait for old guy long enough for me to walk the ten feet to his stall and grab him. At first this caused major melt downs but he can handle the wait now and I have made it a point not to turn out old guy until ottb loses interest and starts grazing. At first this just meant standing 10 yards from pasture fence so ottb could see old guy and start calming down. I have progressed to walking back and forth behind the barn, so he is out of sight for a couple seconds, at first this caused full out galloping but now only pacing and after a bit he does lose interest and start grazing at which point I turn old guy out in his adjacent paddock.

SmartPak was having a 1/2 off deal on supplements so I ordered some SmartCalm Ultra. I’m not a big supplement person but was willing to give it a try at $1.07/day for both horses. If it works I will keep them on it for awhile and then taper off. If I don’t see a difference in the first month I won’t continue. Online reviews I have read have been hit and miss, but mostly positive. Anyone successfully used this or another magnesium supplement for separation anxiety??

I can put a small buddy mirror in old guys stall and see if that helps. I think OTTB would be completely fine leaving old guy with a little more work IF old guy wasn’t periodically screaming for him and reminding OTTB that he is supposed to be upset!

I have not tried riding ottb again since our first melt-down, waiting until DH is home on the weekend in case things get hairy.

Any thoughts or comments would be greatly appreciated!!

Stressed Horse Owner :slight_smile:

Also, I should add that I have incorporated the work near your buddy rest away theory. When I take ottb away from wherever old guy is (barn or pasture) I do ground work near buddy and then calmly walk away. If ottb reacts to calling, we do some ground work on the spot to get him focused on me again then head back to old guy for more ground work and then set calmly out again. The goal being to go further away each time.

How did you like the SmartCalm Ultra? I have mine on the VitaCalm by AniMed. Too early to tell if it works for me just yet.

Also, I should add that I have incorporated the work near your buddy rest away theory. When I take ottb away from wherever old guy is (barn or pasture) I do ground work near buddy and then calmly walk away. If ottb reacts to calling, we do some ground work on the spot to get him focused on me again then head back to old guy for more ground work and then set calmly out again. The goal being to go further away each time.[/QUOTE]

Okay, SmartPak has a 50% off code this month (Febpaks20), so I ordered a 1 month supply of SmartCalm Ultra for each horse (only $30 total–yay!) I figured since they had the deal, I can try it and if I don’t see much difference, I’ll go back to the Vita Calm.

In my limited experience, 2 horses was a nightmare, and resulted in super herd-bound, buddy-sour behavior.

I moved to a little private farm with 3 horses. Horse A and B were both show horses. Used to traveling, settling into new places, and sane, easy-to handle horses. Horse C was a green broke draft mare for DH. The three were fine. They could be turned out together or adjacent. I could ride one and have the two remaining be fine, and the one going out alone be fine. We could take two out, and the one left behind was fine.
Then Horse C left for training. Within 24 hours, Horse A and B were IN LOVE and B was borderline dangerous–trying to bust out of her stall (through stall guard, over people) if horse A left without her. If pastured adjacent, both would scream and pace forever. This went on for 2-3 weeks with little or no improvement. It was ridiculous that experienced show horse B, normally super quiet, would try to rear and bolt through a handler when being turned out if horse A went out first. We then brought Horse D into the mix, a show horse we’d had a while but came off lease. Within 48 hrs, balance was restored. Once again, I could take one horse away or 2 horses away, and everyone was peaceful and happy.
Based on that miserable experience (and it may have been just the particular personalities of the horses involved), I would choose to always have at least 3.

I have just 2 at home now. They are very bonded, share both a pasture and run in, but I just work through it. Seems the biggest problem is with the one left behind.

As long as you keep up what you are doing your ottb should learn that work goes on and his buddy will still be there when he gets back. When I had 3 at home I would just tie 2 in the barn and everyone was content.

Don’t know if that is a reason to go out and get another horse :smiley: I also don’t think it will be any worse if you pasture them together. They share a fence line now?

IME, sometimes, horses just get bound to each other. This can be especially strong if there are two horses in the situation. It can happen within hours easily, sometimes immediately. Supplements won’t help because you’re dealing with actual behavior, IME you have to deal with behavior with training and not with supplements. I bet you’d see a huge change if you introduce a third (horse, mule, donkey). Be careful, though. Sometimes a third is highly disruptive, sometimes not…depending on the horses (and sexes) involved. For example, my gelding was turned out with an older gelding and a young mare was added. Things were good. My gelding was turned out with a young mare and another gelding was added. Things were not good. My gelding was turned out adjacent to two mares in separate pastures - things were good. One was added to his small paddock (he was in the adjacent field) as she recovered from laminitis and needed a small day turnout. All was well. Add the other mare to his field and he literally charged the mare in his small paddock…who knew?