• Emergency separations • Reduce scarring risk • Lower the hay
Two horses with an unhealthy emotional attachment to each other present daily management challenges. If one or both of the duo get upset when they are separated, the vocalizations, pacing and general fretfulness can be disruptive and even dangerous. Most people try to keep the pair within eyesight of each other and make sure enclosures are safe and secure when they can’t be.
With work, a tightly bonded pair can usually be “weaned” from each other over the course of weeks or months. But what happens when one of those horses must leave the farm suddenly for a medical emergency? You don’t have time for a gradual separation, and an abrupt one could make an already stressful situation much worse for the horses and humans.
Here’s what might be the easiest way to handle that predicament: Put both horses on the trailer and ship them to the clinic together. The companionship during the ride will probably be beneficial to the sick or injured horse and you’ll be able to solve the separation problem later. Once the sick horse is being tended to, ask the hospital manager about options for the second horse. A few clinics, if they have the room, might let you stable the horse on the property. Expect to pay extra for this service, but consider it a worthwhile investment.
If the clinic is unable to accommodate the second horse, ask if they can recommend a nearby rehab facility that might be able to take him. Moving the horse to an unfamiliar location may distract him enough to temporarily forget his missing friend. Plus, rehab centers are usually staffed around-the-clock with handlers experienced enough to manage a horse with separation anxiety, allowing you to focus on the sick horse and not have to worry about the upset partner back at home.
Over a few days of separation, the horses may adapt to being apart. Use this to your advantage and take steps to keep them from resuming their unhealthy relationship when you all return home. If possible, stable them on opposite ends of the barn, pair them with different pasturemates and separate them regularly for trail rides and trips off the property.