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The Solo Horse

Sometimes circumstances cause you to just have one horse. I am now in that situation, but am looking for a companion gelding pony. Taking my time to find the right fit. In the meantime, wondering if any of you have had to keep your horse alone for an extended period of time? If so, were there specific things that you did to compensate for the lack of a buddy?

My gelding is now 2 1/2 yrs old (not ridable yet, and I will start him slowly after he turns 3). I’ve raised him since he was 6 months old, and purchased him out of a very bad situation. He almost died, and thankfully with enough vetting, love, and consistent care, he is now a strong healthy beauty! He trusts me impeccably, and likewise. I had kept him at a boarding stable, until 6 months ago when I was able to move him onto my land. Now I have more time to spend with him, and I work with him daily. He is a Canadian Sport Horse, a very easy keeper, calm, confident and very loving. He adores human contact, much more-so than any other horse I have owned.

I do take him for walks, work with him on the ground, run around with him in the paddock, sit in his stall and talk or sing to him :-). He has no interest in a jolly ball. He has only been without a buddy for 2 months, when I sold my OTTB. After the sale, he called out a bit during the first couple days, but then stopped and went about his business. He was never buddy sour thankfully. He is not acting out, still eats like a champ, and isn’t doing anything out of the ordinary other than being a little more spooky in the paddock and walking the fenceline more. However, I do know that horses are better with other horses as they are herd/prey animals.

Anyway, as I look for a companion, can you recommend things to do with him to fill more of the void? Also curious as to how long you went solo? Thank you so much!

I moved my pony home in oct. He had never been alone but transitioned well. He is 10 though, with how young yours is, and already kinda walking the fence… I would be worried about it leading to more issues down the road. How often is he alone? Is he stalled at night or for how long? Granted any companion you get will equal higher feed, water, farrier and vet bills of course. Can you put a feeler out thru a local horsey facebook page or an ad at your old boarding barn or feed store?

Someone may have a senior or retiree easy keeper that they are looking for an easier place to keep, or to place them w a good home. I got lucky and my friend owns a lesson,show, breeding barn and I boarded there for years, so when I got my own place she said do NOT buy another horse, I am giving you one of mine to cut down on my field grazing lol. She gave me her 30yr old retired show guy, he eats, sleeps, rolls and is enjoying being in a smaller place and having more attention. When he passes, I will probably take in another one for her, my farm is where they will come to retire n pass but I dont really ride and work fulltime so its an ideal win-win situation for both of us.

That type of gelding, or even one thats still rideable but the owner will cover feed, vet n farrier, shots n worming would be ideal for you. Especially one that is mild mannered but still doesn’t put up with youngster b.s. It will keep your guy in line as far as horsey manners goes, basically I would want my youngster to be the bottom of the feed line with whatever horse I brought home.

Try local fb pages, craigslist, local barns, feed stores, even a slightly dominant mini would work well for you and if its a mini it should be an easy keeper, allowing you more grazing and money towards looking for a perfect 3rd that you could ride and do more with right now than the youngster and mini, and would be good to pony your younster around the field with :)!!


Thank you so much. He is out during the day and I keep his stall open for him to go in and out as he pleases. Same at night, unless it is too cold or rainy, then I will keep him closed up. I am looking at all kinds of smaller horses. I don’t mind the additional cost, just trying to watch my workload too. I had the OTTB for 6 years and he was 17 hands and very high maintenance. My gelding now is a super easy keeper and I would love to find the same, but it may be hard. I have let the local horse community know that I am looking, and my vet as well.

I had thought about a mini, but then people said they have teeth issues, can get laminitus and are also high maintenance. I even had rescued a 6 month filly locally, but that did not work at all. They sent her to me the day she was weaned, which I did not know till she arrived. She was trying to nurse off my gelding which he absolutely did not like! He got better about her, but still bullied her a bit, and she was just too young to stand her ground and know any better. I felt so sad for her, as she really did need a farm with others her age. So, thankfully I was able to send her back.

I am still on the hunt. It doesn’t help that some of my neighbors like to shoot their guns constantly which makes my gelding jump out of his skin!

Anyway, thanks again for your reply. I really appreciate all of your advice!

It sounds like you’re doing a great job keeping your horse company. :slight_smile:

The only caution I will give you is that, while your youngster may not be buddy sour, his companion might be. The companion horse running and hollering every time your work your gelding would get very annoying.

I second the older horse or pony idea. An independent minded horse or pony that already lives alone might be best. See if you can do a trial with the companion, to make sure it’s a good fit. Or, you could get a non-horse companion that would be less flighty.


Thank you Moonlitoaks. I have worried about the whole buddy sour thing. It is a concern for sure. So, I have really been taking my time in looking. Definitely would want a confident, independent horse for sure. My OTTB was not, and it would create a very dangerous atmosphere all the way around. Much appreciated!

I’ve had two kept alone. The first was a free lease and they actually delivered him with a companion pony, but the pony would freak out when I took the horse away, and I ended up sending the pony back. I’m pretty sure this horse had been kept alone when he was young, and he was fine.

The one I have now is also alone. We moved to Georgia and I was going to get another horse, but we had consecutive family emergencies and I simply could not commit to keeping anything else alive, I was at my limit. Patrick is 26 or so, and I work from home so I’m out there multiple times a day, feeding him, getting the mail, working in the garden. He’s fine.

You will find all kinds of accusatory articles on the internet (and probably they’ll show up here shortly…) about how it’s borderline abusive, but you know what? Horses are pretty adaptable. And people sometimes have complicated lives. You do your best.

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Thank you wsmoak. Yes, there are lots of opinions on this topic. I’ve seen so many. I definitely want to do the right thing for my horse, but I also don’t want to introduce an even worse situation.

I too work from home, so I m here a lot of the time. His paddock is only 15 feet from my back porch and I call out to him a lot, and go out and love on him a lot too. He would get jealous if I gave other horses attention at the barn I used to be at, and push them out of the way in order to get to me. But, I also realize I am not an equine :-). There is only so much I can give to him to fill the void.

Anyway, I will keep hunting but like I said, I am taking my time on this for sure! In the meantime, I will keep working with him a lot. It will also help once my fescue grass is all grown in so I can let him graze. Right now he is bored because the paddock offers no grazing, so I try to keep hay coming, but it is still not the same. He is a good eater alright! Once the grass is established, he probably won’t even remember me anymore :-)!!

I’ve had many solo horses over the years. They have always been fine. My fence walker walked whether he was alone or with friends. Often I have in fact found some horses especially thrive living solo, particularly those who get picked on. Living with others can be stressful, whether you are at the bottom or the top of the pile. I agree one has to have perhaps a bit more thought regarding their amusement, but it sounds like you’ve got that covered. At-will access to outside is perfect. So I wouldn’t worry about it, and only get a buddy when and if it suits you.

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I kept my former gelding alone for about 6 months a couple years ago due to various circumstances. I wouldn’t say he loved it and thrived but he managed. At our previous property, we lived at the end of road where people often went dog walking, bike riding, quadding, etc and he spent a lot of time at that corner watching them. And getting attention over the fence. I felt guilty about him being alone and he certainly seemed happier when he got a buddy but overall, I don’t think it caused him lasting trauma. Life can get complicated and all you can do is try your best!

I have done 2 horses and now we’re up to 3 and I have to say, 3 is the magic number if you can swing it. It keeps the two left behind from losing their minds when left and it spreads out the attachment between more horses. However I am very lucky in that my herd is very egalitarian and there is no fighting.


My boy cannot be turned out with other horses (very studish, he can get very rough) and for the last year or so he has been separate from other horses 90% of the time, turned out either with goats, or most recently, pigs. The goats are really easy companions, they enjoy his company but don’t care if he leaves. The pigs (well pig now… the others went to freezer camp) are adorable and love him to pieces. In both cases it provides a good companion without there being a herd bound issue.

Only caveat for both is that we have no-climb fencing so can keep the pigs and goats contained. Not quite as easy with standard fencing.

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I’ve had a couple solo for varying amounts of time—I think it upset me more than them. One actually seemed mad when I brought the new pony home. I had an especially herd bound mare who did adapt, ended up getting her a large goat friend, that worked quite well. If they are eating well and seem bright, there is no reason to rush to find the next companion—it’s an important decision.
i keep two at home and both are totally fine with being alone for periods when I go for lessons etc. IME they all adapt if you do it often.

if he is doing fine as a lone horse I would just keep him that way. He will do things willingly with you now with no thought of his buddy being left behind and you will appreciate that when you start his training.

Not all horses are herd bound, but sadly you never know until you get the " wrong" one home.