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6 Tips To Introduce A New Horse To A Herd

Image source: Pete Markham via Flickr
 When you bring home a new horse, you will probably face the task of introducing him to an existing herd. Group turnout is a healthy social activity for horses, but it brings with it the possibility of disagreements and injury between herd members. These 6 tips for introducing a new horse to a herd can help to reduce the chance of serious fights or injuries.

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.

Image source: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr
Image source: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr

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.

Image source: Nannette Turner via Flickr
Image source: Nannette Turner via Flickr

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.

Image source: bambe1964 via Flickr
Image source: bambe1964 via Flickr

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.

Image source: smerikal via Flickr
Image source: smerikal via Flickr

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.

Image source: Pete Markham via Flickr
Image source: Pete Markham via Flickr

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.

Image source: smerikal via Flickr
Image source: smerikal via Flickr

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