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Separation Strategies for the Herd-Bound Horse

Dealing with a “buddy sour” or “herd-bound” horse can be a frustrating experience, but this “herdiness” is an entirely natural behaviour. Horses have social needs similar to humans, and most of our equine management practices thwart this innate desire for connection. When you remove your horse from his herd or take away his buddy, he may start having separation anxiety and become agitated and whinny, for example, because everything in his evolutionary development has hard-wired him to feel unsafe without his herdmates. If the situation is threatening, or even moderately stressful, such as a trailer ride, new environment, or the demands of a horse show, then it pays for him to be extra vigilant about keeping his pals in sight. Since horses’ precarious survival on the range hinged on sticking together, this behaviour was evolutionarily selected for. Horses that wandered off were much more likely to get eaten by a predator and…

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