As a prey species, it’s essential for horses to feel safe, and they do this by forming strong bonds with their field mates. As a result, they can find it difficult to cope when one moves away, especially a best friend.
Horses are known to pair off in twos – for mutual protection (one can be the lookout while the other sleeps), for body care (standing head to tail to swish away flies) and for creating strong friendships through play and mutual grooming.
Even if your horse is well integrated with other field mates, it’s likely they will feel the loss of their pair bond.
Helping your horse cope with the loss of a pair bond
The more we learn about horse’s emotions, the more we know how affected they can be by loss and grief.
You can help your horse cope in the same way you would take care of a grieving person.
Cut him a lot of slack for a few weeks and reduce your demands, whether that’s by reducing your riding or not riding at all, or going for gentle hacks in company rather than any serious schooling.
Also be a “bringer of good things” – this will make you an even more reliable place of safety and comfort after their friend has left.
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