Horse Buddy Sour/Herd Bound

Information on equine anxiety and how to relax and overcome fears of ring, barn sour or herd bound horses.

    equine anxiety info for ring, barn sour and herd bound horses

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    1. What is Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound?
    2. What Causes Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound?
    3. Diagnosing Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound
    4. Help for Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound

    What is Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound?

    A horse becomes herd bound when he is extremely insecure about leaving an equine friend behind. Rather than view the other horse as a buddy or companion, the horse sees him as a security blanket he cannot leave behind, which is known as buddy sour or herd bound.

    What Causes Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound?

    Most horses become herd bound during their earliest months of life. This is due to a trusting bond not having been established between the animal and humans. A foal should always experience human interaction so that it’s natural for him to be in the presence of humans.

    There are two periods where a foal is particularly susceptible to developing a dependence on other horses: the imprinting period and the weaning period.

    If you imprint a foal improperly such that you traumatize him instead of reassure him during your efforts to make him accept you as his leader, he will develop an inherent distrust of humans. This distrust will put him at risk of experiencing buddy sour in the future.

    Diagnosing Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound

    The difference between a barn sour horse and a herd bound horse can be told by the frantic and high-pitched neighing that a herd bound horse displays. If your horse neighs loudly to his partner he is more than likely herd bound.

    Help for Buddy Sour/ Herd Bound

    There are many medications to assist horses that are nervous, stressed or overly anxious. Unfortunately these medications are not without side effects, and while they may help to relax the horse in the short term, their long-term effects are not known. Furthermore, sedatives and calming drugs can leave a horse’s senses dulled – that can make competitive events as well as training difficult, as concentration and alertness is required. Speak to your vet about other alternatives.

    The weaning period is the most stressful time in a horse’s life, so it’s crucial that horse owner’s handle it properly. When the foal is taken away from his mother it’s important for the care-taker to fill the gap rather than another horse. It is recommended that foals are isolated from direct contact with other horses during the weaning stage.

    He can be aloud to interact over a fence, but hands-on interaction should be reserved the care-giver. Once the caretaker assumes the role of leadership in the horse’s life, chances that it will become herd bound are significantly lowered.

    If you do put your foal in direct contact with other horses during the weaning stage try to ensure he isn’t paired with just one horse for an extended period of time in order to prevent an unhealthy dependence on another horse putting him at high risk in the future.