I must have heard a hundred times that I need to get another horse before I move Bailey home to my barn so Bailey wouldn’t be alone. After all, she had always been with other horses. She was the alpha horse of any herd. How will she survive alone. It is cruel not to have a herd for her. I too was concerned about how she would react alone.
The setup for a horse at my location I think is almost ideal. The barn is about 100 feet directly behind our house. We own the property behind both my neighbors houses so a horse can watch people coming and going, children playing all from the pasture. I also work out of my house so I am home all day. Bailey was never going to be alone! Plus there are our cats and Riley our golden retriever who always accompanies me to the barn and trail rides.
The first day I brought her home she was a bit confused of course, but not overly distraught. She whinnied every once in a while the first week, but with nice grass and treats and me and the pet gang around the transition was uneventful. She was very happy as an only horse in my situation. I still was concerned she was alone so two weeks later I brought another horse in for a trial week but the horse did not pass a vet check, so she went home. Bailey did not care one way or another when the horse left. It was at that point that I decided Bailey was happy with only me and the pet gang.
Having only one horse has so many pluses in my opinion. If you are a trail rider and ride alone, there is no herd bound issues. My trails start in my backyard. I could jump on Bailey with no problem for a ride and she never wanted to rush back to another horse or herd. We just enjoyed the ride together. There is also not the problem of the second horse left behind throwing a fit when you leave. One horse is less of everything- food, manure, vet care, tack. Getting your horse in a pasture with other horses can be a problem, but with one horse, no issue. In fact, I never had to go get Bailey in our pasture, as soon as she saw me heading toward the barn she would come in ready for whatever was happening.
Life was pretty perfect then. Why would I want two horses? I really didn’t want or expect to still have two horses. Cheyenne joined our herd in July 2014 because of the deterioration of Bailey’s life with high ringbone. I did not think Bailey would survive that upcoming winter. Little did I know the effect Cheyenne would have on all our lives, especially Bailey’s. My two alpha mares started out living together. Bailey stood her ground immediately and let Cheyenne know she was the alpha horse at this barn, and for 9 months they lived without any problems. After the 2015 harsh winter and a hard heat cycle by Cheyenne, there was a violent change of hierarchy with three consecutive challenges that resulted in me permanently separating them. The details of that will be shared in the next article.
Although both horses do their own thing in the pasture or choosing to go into the barn, they are aware of what each other is doing all the time. For me it is better with them separated, as each horse comes into their barn stall area to greet me, and there is no pushing or shoving. I can enter the stall and brush each individually and spend time with each horse without competing for my attention. All summer and fall I took Cheyenne off the property away from Bailey for day ride trips and a weekend trip and Bailey was fine with Cheyenne gone. Now that Bailey is being ridden, I have friends come over and we ride both horses. With one horse I was alone most of the time at the barn, but with two nice trail horses, it is fun to have other horse lovers enjoy them with me. It is fun to watch them interact with each other even separated by a wire.
I guess one horse was perfect, and now two horses are perfect. I do think my husband would have an opinion with a third!