How to Introduce a New Horse to the Herd

by Sarah Macey

Here at Prime Stables, we know that getting a new horse can be exciting but the thought of introducing new horses is something many horse owners worry about. Horses are social animals and tend to prefer the company of others to a solitary lifestyle. Regardless of how you introduce a new horse to a herd, it is likely they will quickly develop a hierarchy of leaders and followers. Horses tend to figure out this hierarchy with little interference from their human owners, however it can be an anxiety inducing experience for all involved. Regardless of how you integrate the newcomer to the herd, it can be a tense process so I have written this article to give you some pointers on how best to introduce a new horse to the herd.

Just Put Them Together

Often, we find it is best to simply put two horses together. Here at Prime Stables, we find that if the field has plenty of room for horses to get out of the way, the herd usually settles with minimum fuss and the new herd member will take on its ‘assigned’ position in the hierarchy without question. However, if the newcomer is very confident and assertive it can make the settling in process more difficult. Occasionally, you may find that two horses simply don’t mix well – often those that are particularly dominant – and they can’t live together safely, in which case it is sensible to separate them.

Mix Gently

Sometimes, it is recommended that you introduce a new member to the herd gradually to give everyone a chance to adjust. This includes keeping the new horse within view of the herd, but in a separate field, so that various members can come up and suss him out without causing any trouble.

It is good to be aware that just because the horses seemed to get along when they were in separate fields, doesn’t mean there won’t be any squealing, kicking or biting when they are put into the same field. However, chances are, the initial excitement of a new herd member will wear off quickly and the herd will settle into its new structure.

One at a Time

Alternatively, you could introduce a new herd member by letting them meet each member of the herd one at a time. This gives the newcomer an opportunity to bond with one or two members at a time, with the leader of the herd added last of all. If you have the time and patience, this technique is often very successful and gives everyone a good chance to get to know one another without the worry of fights breaking out. By introducing the horse to each member of the herd at a time, the chasing and excited behaviours should end as the new horse becomes an accepted member of the herd.

Final Words

Whenever you introduce a new horse to the herd, emphasise a lot of space! Introductions can be scary for humans and horses alike and can often cause a lot of anxiety. However, if you follow the suggestions above the addition of a new member to the herd should go smoothly. Here at Prime Stables, we always recommend being slow and steady with introductions and letting each horse have plenty of time to get to know the other. Over time, the horses should form their own hierarchy and peace should be restored to your pastures.

I hope you have found this article useful and informative. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the subject further, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us today. Here at Prime Stables, we are always available to answer any questions you may have.

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