Integrating a New Horse into the Herd

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Summer is always a time of travel and movement-and with it, horses seem to follow. If you're planning on adding a horse to your herd, follow these tips to make sure the transition goes easily and no one gets hurt.

Remember that horses are herd animals, so a single horse will probably welcome the company of a companion. More than one, however, requires careful planning.

When the new horse arrives, keep him separate for a few days to make sure he's not carrying any contagious diseases. Then, put him in an area that's adjacent to, but separate from, the rest of the horses. They should be able to sniff and touch noses but otherwise remain apart. Don't be surprised if you're "alpha" herd member feels the need to establish his dominance with the rest of his herd mates again.

After a few days, choose a member of the herd who is roughly in the middle of the pecking order, and place him out with the new horse, while keeping other herd members separate. Hopefully they'll bond.

When you turn everyone out together, do so in a large, open area if possible. That will allow the new herd member to find his own corner of the pasture if necessary.

Don't be alarmed if there's a fair amount of fireworks-bucking, kicking, whinnying. It's natural for horses to re-establish their pecking order whenever a new member joins the herd.