Preparing Horses for a Companion’s Departure

A reader seeks advice for introducing a new companion to her horse after his pasturemate’s death.

No account yet? Register


Preparing Horses for a Companion
A new companion horse can make the departure of an older pasture buddy less stressful. | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Tsungam
Q. We have two geldings that have been retired together in the same pasture for 12 years and are very tightly bonded. The older one is in his mid-30s, but looks and acts like a much younger horse. The other one is only 22, but was retired for various injuries, and he’s been gradually failing. Winters have been hard on him, and this year he didn’t really pick up condition over the summer. In fact, he’s continued going downhill. We’ve decided it’s time to make a plan for putting him down before winter.

We’re thinking the old guy will be pretty stressed when his forever buddy leaves, so we have arranged to borrow a late teens gelding to be his companion. When and how would be best to introduce the new companion—before or after the 22-year-old departs?

We have two pastures with a laneway between them. The loaner could come now and stay across the laneway where they all could see each other. As soon as they seem to be getting along, the loaner could be moved over with the others, or we could wait until after our younger guy departs

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What do you think: Can pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) be managed by medication alone?
110 votes · 110 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!