EQUUS - - Tack & Gear -

Sally would be­come anx­ious when she was around other horses. It was al­most as if she would for­get how to re­late to them and when she did see them, she wor­ried about what they might do.

For­tu­nately, the so­lu­tion was easy enough. I try to not let more than a week or two go by with­out al­low­ing her some in­ter­ac­tion with other horses. I take her trail rid­ing with friends or ride her at a lo­cal park reg­u­larly. This seems to be of­ten enough for her to keep up her so­cial skills and re­main com­fort­able in the com­pany of other horses.

As her time as a lone horse stretches on, I con­tinue to see ben­e­fits of solo horse­keep­ing. Sally and have de­vel­oped a level of trust with one an­other un­like few I have ever ex­pe­ri­enced. I have also en­joyed some un­ex­pected per­sonal ben­e­fits to be­ing the owner of a lone horse. For in­stance, I never feel as if I need to di­vide my at­ten­tion be­tween mul­ti­ple horses. There is also less time in­volved and fewer ex­penses with car­ing for one an­i­mal, al­low­ing me to de­vote more re­sources to her. Al­though solo horse­keep­ing isn’t a sit­u­a­tion I would have ever cho­sen, it does work well for us. I never would have thought that be­fore I’d ex­pe­ri­enced it my­self.

Of course, not ev­ery horse would adapt to the sin­gle life­style as eas­ily as Sally did. Cer­tainly most young horses need the so­cial­iza­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties pro­vided by one or more horses. And oth­ers may sim­ply have per­son­al­i­ties or life ex­pe­ri­ences that would make liv­ing alone a prob­lem, no mat­ter what you pro­vide in terms of toys, hay and at­ten­tion. In those cases, a sec­ond horse may be the only so­lu­tion. I also un­der­stand that not ev­ery owner will be com­fort­able with just one horse. Hav­ing an­other mount for friends and fam­ily is nice, as is hav­ing a “backup” ride when a horse needs time off.

To­day, when new friends be­come aware that I have only one horse, I will still get the oc­ca­sional of­fer for a com­pan­ion an­i­mal for Sally. Per­haps in the pas­ture she does miss hav­ing a part­ner horse from which she can seek a friendly back scratch or share in the du­ties of fly swish­ing. I will never know. But I do know that I am not yet ready to take on an­other horse and I am happy that she seems con­tent with her cur­rent life. Maybe one day there will be a new four-legged friend for Sally, but for now she’s lov­ing the sin­gle life.

When car­ing for a sud­denly solo horse, your pri­or­ity is pro­tect­ing his emo­tional well-be­ing and health. But don’t over­look the chal­lenges you’ll have to con­front your­self. Here are a few ways you can help your­self cope with be­ing a sin­gle-horse owner. It’s not just horses who are so­cial crea­tures. So are many rid­ers. If you aren’t al­ready ac­cus­tomed to it, sud­denly be­ing the care­taker of a solo horse can be iso­lat­ing. Scour feed store bul­letin boards and on­line com­mu­ni­ties and at­tend lo­cal events to find nearby groups of like­minded rid­ers you can con­nect with to ex­change ideas and en­cour­age­ment. Buy­ing hay, grain and shav­ings in small quan­ti­ties isn’t nearly as cost-ef­fec­tive as bulk pur­chas­ing. When you’re the care­taker of a lone horse, how­ever, you don’t need huge amounts of any­thing and stor­age can be dif­fi­cult or im­pos­si­ble. You may, how­ever, be able to split a bulk pur­chase with sev­eral nearby neigh­bors, shar­ing the sav­ings. If you live in an area where far­rier and ve­teri­nary care op­tions are al­ready lim­ited, you may have trou­ble find­ing a pro­fes­sional will­ing to travel to your lo­ca­tion to do rou­tine care for a sin­gle horse. Or you may end up pay­ing ex­tra for such a visit. Ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of trai­ler­ing your horse to a more pop­u­lated barn for rou­tine care on days a far­rier or vet­eri­nar­ian is al­ready sched­uled to be there.

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