Horses are herd animals, so by nature they feel more comfortable with another nearby. This can become problematic when you take a friend away. Separation anxiety is a real issue that can cause your horse to pace, weave, become difficult to handle, and lack focus on you. Luckily, there are training techniques to help your horse feel more confident alone and without their buddy.
Tips for Separation Anxiety
- First, you’ll have to understand this is a difficult issue to overcome. Being alone goes against their very nature! With patient and consistency, you can likely improve your horse’s reaction when you take away their buddy. Be ready to put in some work though!
- Baby steps in the beginning! Start by putting the horse in a nearby stall, so they can see each other but not touch. You can also do this outside by keeping them in separate paddocks, but visible to each other.
- Keep the periods away short at first. This is a gradual process. You want the horse to figure out that their buddy will return.
- Be frequent! It will be more beneficial to separate them daily, rather than once a month. You’ll see greater improvement the first way.
- If you have an experienced friend who can help, then try to redirect their attention with groundwork. Each person takes a horse and works them until they’re calm and focused.
- If the slow and steady method isn’t working, some trainers recommend separating them for a solid two weeks. One will need to be removed off the farm or kept far away. Make sure your fencing or stall is safe though!
There isn’t a one way fixes all solution. You’ll have to try a few different things out to see what works best for your individual horse. Some like the slow and steady, while others want to rip it off like a band-aid.