Yes, horses need companions to live happily, entertained, and engaged. They are herd animals and they feel safer and happier with their own kind. If horses are kept separately without a companion, they get bored and tend to indulge in destructive behavior such as wood chewing and stall walking. Your horse is better off physically and emotionally if he lives in a herd. In the wild, horses live in a small band or herd. There is a social hierarchy among the herd members, with the role of leaders and followers clearly distributed. So, do horses need a companion?
The answer to this question is yes. Your horse needs a companion and you should definitely do something to ensure that your horse does not have to leave all alone. He must have a companion.
But if you had thought of keeping only one horse, bringing home another has many obstacles. First, the budgetary constraints may be something difficult enough not to take the path of bringing another horse to your barn. Second, you may not have the time and facilities to provide for the second horse. It will require double the feed, care, vaccination, and your time. You may not be ready for all this. But you cannot keep your horse alone either. He will be bored, emotionally drained, and physically unsporting.
How companionship helps?
Horses are herd animals and they have a certain kind of interdependence on each other. For example, when you have more than one horse, their sleeping behavior is different. In a herd environment, horses take turn to keep watch while others are sleeping. This horse who is watching is normally in a standing position. Even if his lying down, he is more alert and watchful than other horses.
In a herd, horses engage in social activities called loafing. This includes mutual grooming. They use incisor teeth to scratch other horses in areas where the horse himself is not able to scratch. This is a mutual activity that intensifies the bonds between them.
They often stand together to offer the warmth of their body and also to keep flies off each other by using their tails. They also run and play together to keep each other entertained. It is because of these reasons that horses find it difficult to live alone. They need companions.
If you don’t want to buy a new horse for giving company to your horse, you have some other options. You can think about taking a middle path that ensures you bring home a companion for your horse but you are not buying a new animal.
Here are some of the options:
Create boarding facility for horses
If you have large enough space for more horses and if you are willing to commit yourself to taking care of them, you can run a boarding facility for horses. This way, you can offer a helping hand to another horse owner and at the same time you will get some money from your pasture. But the best benefit is that your horse will find some much needed companion. He would be happier, healthier, and more sporting.
You may find a free companion horse
If you don’t want to spend money on buying a new horse, you may find a horse without paying any money. You can call up agencies that run animal rescue services and let them know that you are ready to adopt a horse. You can also check out classifieds in local papers or online to find someone who is ready to offer his horse for adoption. Your horse will be happy to find a companion. He is least bother how you managed to do this.
Think about miniature horse option
If you have limited space and you can’t welcome an average size horse, you can bring home a miniature horse, small in size and demand. Your horse will feel better and enjoy the company of the miniature horse. You will have to work only a little more to provide for this new member to your farm.
Can non-equine be the companion of your horse?
A horse feels better and safer in the company of other horses. However, you can introduce other animals as neighborhood friends. Keeping a single horse in the stable or on the farm is not the best thing for your horse. He will feel and behave more naturally if he is having another horse as a companion. But until you have found a companion for him, you can populate his surroundings with other animals with whom horses are known to have better relations and bonding.
But remember, a horse wants more horses around because it helps them to live in an herd environment where they can share their responsibilities and benefit socially from each other’s presence. Other animals at best can be a friend but he would not share the responsibilities or help each other. Their presence can eliminate loneliness for your horse but it can’t give them the sense of security and convenience that a horse will feel in the presence of another horse.
Which animals can be an equine’s companions?
If you cannot give your horse another horse as a companion, you can think about donkeys as a substitute. Both animals seem to be quite friendly to each other.
Dogs are active, intelligent, and curios animals. If trained well, they are good friends to humans and their friend. Your horse and dog should get along well.
Your horse may find the presence of cats amusing as you do. Cats have a great entertainment value while they are not short of mischief as far as chasing the rodents or frightening the birds is concerned.
Goats, sheep, cows
Ruminant animals like goats, sheep, and cows have an amiable temperament. They can bond well with your horse. If you have a barn, you can have all of them. Your horse will enjoy their company.
Horse is a herd animal and it needs a companion to live a socially interdependent life. If a horse is kept alone, it shows signs of stress and indulges in destructive behavior. To keep them physically and emotionally healthy, it’s necessary to find a companion for your horse. If you are not in a position to bring another horse, there are some other options. We have discussed all these options in this article and believe that you will find them helpful.