By Heather Smith Thomas
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A companion animal may help him feel less isolated. Having another animal in the stall often calms a nervous horse and helps keep him happy. Horse owners have used chickens, ducks, sheep, small donkeys, and dogs, but the most commonly used companion is a goat. They are inexpensive, easy to care for, and horses tend to bond with them and become content. A daily grooming session can help the attitude of an isolated horse, partially replacing the affectionate physical contact he would otherwise get from his herd mates.
Young horses experience stress in situations they are not accustomed to but learn to deal with the novelties (and become less insecure or fearful) as their training level progresses and they accept certain things as non-confrontational and part of their regular routine. Doing familiar things in a familiar environment causes less stress than being subjected to something unfamiliar. Social Stress Even at pasture with a group of herd mates, horses may be stressed by unnatural social structure (or constant change) imposed by humans.
Over on its side, he may throw a fit. We think he is being silly, but in his eyes it looks so different and predatory that he wants to give it a wide berth. You must understand what sort of things might alarm a horse and be able to anticipate problems, minimize them, or be prepared for the horse’s possible reaction. Horses are usually not afraid of an object or situation if accustomed to it gradually, especially if acquainted with it while young. The youngster growing up with a variety of experiences is usually more adaptable than the overly sheltered youngster that never experiences anything new.