Dear Dr. Lowder, What is the safest way to introduce strange horses to each other?
I will be getting a 19 yr. old gelding and a 9 yr. old gelding in two weeks. I have never had horses before. Everyone gives me different advice. We have a run in barn on one side and two box stalls on the other side of the barn. Should I feed them separate? Please advise. I want to start out right.
Whenever you are introducing new animals of any kind, the best thing to do is to allow them to adjust to each other gradually. This allows a smoother transition for the animals and allows you to see how safely they will interact with each other. Horses can sometimes be fairly particular so always remember that caution and awareness are very important.
If you have two stalls that are near each other where the horses can actually visualize each other at a safe distance, this setup would be ideal. This would provide a safe distance to prevent possible injuries and would allow the horses to become familiar with each other. Initially feeding them separate but within a close distance would probably be best to prevent competition for food. As they become familiar with each other, feeding them together or in separate stalls should be fine.
Turn them out together for a short period each day while gradually increasing the amount of time they are allowed to “play” together. If you plan to ride them, taking them on trail rides together would encourage a friendly relationship. Try to avoid any behavior that will introduce competitive or dangerous behavior from either horse.
If you have any questions please contact your veterinarian for advice.