In the natural world, thoroughbred racehorses would live as social herd animals, relying on each other for both their physical and mental wellbeing. It would be wonderful for your horse to have a lifelong group of equine mates and never have to be by themselves. Unfortunately, in the real world, this is often not practical. Racehorses sometimes just have to be alone.
While some horses adapt well to this situation, others don’t and develop behavioural problems. One solution to this could be to get a companion for your horse. Read on to find out more.
Remember, as well as taking care of their emotional needs, responsible horse ownership also requires you to have adequate horse insurance in place.
How to tell if your racehorse needs a companion
A horse that is frustrated, bored or stressed by a lack of equine companionship will soon make it clear to you by their behaviour. This can range from destructive habits like wood chewing to simply running around a lot and whinnying. Losing weight or developing abnormal repetitive behaviours like stall walking or weaving can also develop. They might also seem dull and show a loss of enthusiasm for work.
Benefits and risks of keeping horses together
Being a herd animal, equine friendships are vital to your horse’s life. Horses often form close bonds between each other, spending time hanging out, watching over each other when sleeping, mutual grooming and brushing each other’s flies away.
This can apply just as well to racehorses, as could be seen by the relationship between the legendary Kauto Star and Denman – fierce race rivals but reportedly great friends back at the Somerset stables of their trainer Paul Nicholls.
Indeed, sometimes these bonds are so close that they can become a problem. Some field friends become so inseparable they can experience stress, verging on panic, when they are parted.
There are also other risks of keeping a companion for your racehorse. Biting and kicking can result in nasty injuries and illnesses can be passed between the two animals. Also, if the horses have different needs then it can be difficult to manage the most effective grazing program – something that’s especially important for your sensitive racer.
If a problem does develop then you’ll be pleased you have horse insurance in place to deal with any unexpected vet bills.
Choosing the right companion
When looking for a companion to complement your existing racehorse, then there’s a lot to think about. Issues of compatibility Include:
- Size – A similar size horse will allow for mutual grooming and may prevent bullying. That said, sometimes ponies, miniature horses and donkeys can make excellent companions. A benefit being that they can eat similar foods and stay on the same pasture. Also, if they’re small enough they might happily share a stall or live in a smaller space next to your racehorse’s stall.
- Sex – Does your racehorse react well to both stallions and mares? Or would they prefer a gelding? If a mare comes into season could this cause a problem?
- Age – Older horses tend to calm younger horses and often show them the ropes. Useful for those who haven’t learned their manners yet! This can be a great combination but the youngster will want to play sometimes while the older one might need a break.
- Diet – Racehorses often follow strict feeding regimes so it can be difficult if the companion horse has very different needs. It’s less complicated to keep horses together if they can have the same/similar feeding regime..
- Daily routine – Both horses need to be well looked after and need to fit into a daily routine that works for you all. For example, if your racehorse is stabled at night then the companion will need to be happy about doing that, too.
It’s important the mental wellbeing of both horses is considered, not just the racer. What will the companion horse do when your racer is training or away at a race? If there are other horses around then this might not be a problem. But if it’s just the two of them then they could get upset when they part. So, consider getting a pair of companions to keep each other company in your racehorse’s absence.
When looking for a companion horse remember they will also need the protection adequate horse insurance brings. Equesure offers a discount for policyholders insuring more than one horse. Speak to our team to find out more.
Alternatives to equines
While another equine will tend to make the best companion, there are many cases of horses getting along with other animals if another horse is not available. Goats are considered to be a good pairing for horses and have similar feeding habits. Llamas, cats, cows and poultry have also been seen to provide an important element of friendship for horses living alone.
Protection for racers and their companions
Whether a trusted companion or a race winner, taking care of a horse is a significant investment in both time and money. However, by arranging suitable horse insurance cover you can be assured of help with any unexpected costs that arise.
With over 60 years’ combined experience in the equine insurance market, our team of caring specialists are well aware of what horse owners are looking for in their cover.
In terms of the all-important vet’s fees cover there are three options for owners to choose from:
- Option 1 – £4,500 per incident with unlimited claims in the year
- Option 2 – £7500 per incident with up to £15,000 in the year
- Option 3 – £5000 per incident with £2500 top up for life saving surgery
Multi-horse policies are also available when you have more than five horses.
Additional benefits can include:
- Saddlery and tack cover
- Personal accident cover up to £20,000
- Public liability cover up to £2 million
We can also provide horse rider insurance for you.
Call our horse insurance team and get a quote today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.