From  "Your Horse"  -  JAN. 2015

Don't leave me!

Separating your horse from his best buddy can be problematic and potentially dangerous. Equine behaviour expert Ben Hart is here with some short-term solutions to help you cope



is an equine behaviour expert and trainer. He uses the science of equine behaviour ratherthanaone method approach to help owners and theirhorses overcome problems. To find out more visit

Running up and down the fence line, pacing around his stable and constantly calling - these are all signs of separation anxiety, a relatively common condition that can occur when bonded horses are unable to touch or see each other. Horses are herd animals whose natural instinct is to stick together, which means their behaviour can change dramatically when you try to split them up. It can be extremely stressful for you and your horse, and can make handling him tricky.

Assess his personality

Virtually any horse can experience separation anxiety, but some might be more prone to the condition than others. Although it might seem logical that the most dominant horses in the herd would be the least likely to experience separation anxiety, they actually tend to be more vulnerable than those down the pecking order, but it's primarily their individual personality that dictates how they cope. Those with anxious personalities will experience greater levels of distress with separation, and they'll fight harder to stay in the herd.

Help your horse deal with Being alone

There are a number of different methods you can put in place to help your horse cope with the symptoms of separation anxiety and they're all about distracting him and keeping him busy. It's important to remember that you and your horse's safety is the priority.

* If you can't be with your horse when he's left alone, then the safest alternative option is to leave him in his stable - somewhere he can't get up too much speed if he gets worked up and anxious

* As well as giving him a net of hay, try hiding some food around his stable or using a feed ball to help keep him occupied

* If your horse can see other horses, it may help him to stay calm

* There's also scientific evidence that using stable mirrors can ease stress, so these can be worth trying

* If your horse has an anxious temperament, feeding a calmer may

just take the edge off and help to ease his stress a little

* If you can be with your horse and it's safe, try scratching his wither area as this releases endorphins which reduce anxiety

* Working your horse from the ground can take his mind off his friend not being around

These simple techniques are ideal for helping your horse cope with the immediate stress caused by separation anxiety.

However, if they don't help your horse or his anxiety becomes worse, then you'll need to work on a long-term training programme to help build his confidence, so he's not so reliant on other horses. To do this, seek help from a professional to handle this problem safely and effectively.