Do foals need a companion their own age? Weaning question

I saw a gorgeous weanling for sale. Part of me wants to drop everything and buy her. It would give my colt a buddy the same age. However, and this is a big however, it would mean raising 2 young horses at the same time, and eventually training 2 young horses at the same time, if I start them under saddle myself. I’m fairly certain my colt will be easy to train, especially after working with mustangs. He’s already fairly advanced for his age and is super easy going.

Or I could just buy or lease something under saddle. Probably a gelding, and hope said gelding is a suitable companion for my colt at weaning time. A friend has an Arabian gelding I can try, but there’s no guarantee he will be suitable as a companion come weaning time.

They don’t have to be the same age but they need to be compatible. Youngsters are usually good together because they both want to play and rough house which can be great for them mentally. However, it can increase the chance of injury if constantly playing hard. Most breeding operations will pair similar age groups because of their level of play and maturity. If it’s an older horse, you need a very tolerant horse that can handle the often constant harassment and play of young horses, especially colts. Often very dominant horses won’t tolerate youngsters and can be too dominant with them, keeping them away from hay and resources, etc., (though they can certainly teach youngsters respect), or may be more of an inherent risk because they will flat out nail a young, dumb colt. Unfortunately, it’s generally case by case and no straight answer. I would ensure either way that your fields are large and fences safe - it reduces the risk of a lot of issues. It allows horses to get away if bullied, less fence crashes if youngsters are running amuck and not paying attention, etc., etc.

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I bought my young Warmblood a pony. He was six months old, about to be weaned, and I bought him a seven month old Welsh pony for a companion. It was perfect. In my opinion, although you can raise a weanling alone… It is far, far from ideal… and I want ideal.

The game plan is to keep the little guy and start him between three and four and then probably sell him. At that point my young warm blood will be old enough to be able to go out with another horse who is temperamentally compatible.

I have not found this situation to be terribly more difficult than having a single weanling. The size differential worked out great, I didn’t have to worry about my super expensive Warmblood getting hurt and he is very sweet and quiet and never hurt the Pony either. They play and play and play and play and play, and that makes me happy.

Going out and working with a baby for 10 minutes with a halter and lead rope turns into 20 minutes with two. They also get to watch each other and learn from observation. If I ever have another youngster, I will certainly do this again.

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if you actually have a colt (and not a young gelding) there is only a short window of time when the two youngsters–a colt and a filly–can serve as companions for each other before they will need to be separated.

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Yes that is a good point. Maybe I should look for a gelded colt… The filly caught my eye because she is fancy and should resell well. Decisions, decisions.

I think, what it comes down to, is that I want him to have a safe turnout buddy. Borrowing a gelding I know nothing about, doesn’t give me much confidence in turning them out together, even if they have 2 months to get to know each other through the fence.

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I have only ever had two foals at once one time so every other time I weaned with suitable adult companions. Had no issues whatsoever

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I’ve had many weanlings over the years and have only had one at a time. Now mine have always been geldings (no mares here ever!) and my older boys love to play.

I slowly introduce the weanling to the bigger boys and I have never had an issue over the years. They all play together (including my 25 year old!) and have always got along famously.

I have another weanling coming in a couple of months and he has never had anyone else to play with but his mom. Now this I’ve never had before as the other weanlings I’ve had grew up for their first few months with others their age. So this one might be interesting! But I have a feeling he will love my boys and will be happy with someone to play with. I may have to do really slow introductions though…

I raise my foals with the adult companions and their dam in a herd then just remove the mare at weaning time. I would not wean and then introduce the foal to companions unless I absolutely had to.

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I really don’t think he’s going to be terribly difficult to wean by himself. He really takes after his mother. She doesn’t care about leaving other horses and is perfectly content by herself. I tried separating them yesterday and he was fine for about 45 minutes before he started looking for her. I even turned her out in the pasture- but still within sight. I think a nice gradual approach with him should be fine. I still think he is too young to fully wean, but it’s nice to see that he handles it okay.

I do think he needs a companion for socialization though.

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I raise my young ones with well behaved adults. As I train the young one, I keep the adult present for moral support/good example.