1. Make Gradual Introductions
When you first bring home a new horse, allow him to make gradual introduction to the herd. If possible, turn the horse out in a neighboring paddock where he can see the herd without being in the middle of them. Over the fence introductions can give you an idea of whether the new horse may get along with the herd, and will make the actual herd introduction less sudden and intimidating.
2. Use a Generously Sized Paddock
You don’t want to turn a new horse out with a herd in a small paddock. Small, tight spaces may make horses feel threatened, and they won’t be able to get out of the way if herd members try to show their dominance. Try to make introductions in a large space where the horses have plenty of room to move around and get out of each other’s way.
3. Separate the Herd Out
Don’t toss a new horse out into an existing herd. Instead, introduce the new horse to just one herd member at a time. Repeat this process until the horse has met all of the herd members individually.
4. Have Help Available
When introducing new horses, fights may break out. In some cases, you may need to separate the horses for their safety. It’s a good idea to have another person on hand to help you in case this should happen. If you do need to separate horses, only use a lunge line to do it – don’t put your own safety at risk in the process.
5. Gradually Introduce the Full Herd
After the new horse has met each member of the herd, you can start to introduce him to multiple herd members together. Gradually return the herd to its full size and carefully monitor for disagreements.
6. Keep Monitoring
Even though a herd may seem accepting of a new member, that can change days or weeks after the initial introductions. With a new member, a herd’s hierarchy will have to change, and that can cause disagreements between herd members. Keep a close eye on the entire herd, including the new member, for a few weeks to come until you’re sure that they’ve settled into their new setup.
Horse Courses by Elaine Heney
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