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Introducing New Horse to Herd

16 August 2011 No Comment

Introducing New Horse to Herd
We asked horse training expert Rhett Russell.
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How to go about introducing a new horse to the herd? Should you put it out with the lowest ranking horse and work your way up to the top? I’ve had several people tell me their methods but haven’t really found one that works best yet. — Doris

Hi Doris: I have heard of all kinds of ways to introduce a new horse to the herd. Most people just throw the new guy out into the pasture and let him work it out with the established herd. This works, horses have been doing this on their own for years before we ever got involved.

I like to introduce a new horse to the herd by giving all of the horses a common problem to work out. I usually put 3-4 horses into a round pen or arena and work them all at once with the new horse. I’ll ask them to change directions, get them to draw in to me, hook on, move their feet like I want, etc. Make them all work. This gets their mind off their horse games that they play with each other and on to me. I look for signs that that herd is accepting the new horse. If I see any inappropriate horse behavior (i.e. kicking, biting, etc.) I will ask them all to work some more. If the behavior is good, I will reward them by letting them stand still.

After a while the “new guy” is integrated into the herd because he’s been working with the other horses to problem solve.

You may have too many horses to do this in a round pen. I have used an arena, small fenced area, and even a small pasture. A round pen is not important, what’s important is that you control the interaction of the horses.

Take Care, Rhett

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