I think that this is a really interesting question. Some people will think it is ridiculous but many of us will have experienced jealousy in a horse to some extent.
What is jealousy?
The definition of jealousy which seems to fit best for horses is 'fiercely protective or vigilant of one's rights or possessions' . Horses are not jealous of achievements or advantages but they can be possessive and protective of their food, space, herd position, attention etc.
Horses often seem to become jealous when a horse (or pony) has been in the same family for a long time and probably been the only horse. If then, after a number of years, another horse comes into the family - jealousy seems to appear! Having been the centre of attention, the one that is groomed, cuddled, ridden etcetera will find it difficult to see another horse having the same treatment as them!
However, after I lost her, Chesney was the only horse that was ridden, groomed and really fussed over for several years before Basil came along. Chesney is now unable to be ridden and he is jealous when I ride Basil. When I take Basil into the arena Chesney stays by the fence and tries to bite Basil when we go past. Luckily the fence is far enough away that he can't quite reach! He also sometimes shows me his 'sad' eyes that make me feel really guilty.
It can be quite tricky. I do try to ensure that if one gets a good groom so does the other, if I wash one tail, I do the other .... I swap who is done first too. However, they are very careful not to push me or bite me and when I go to catch Basil in the field they are both very good. I can't bring Fidget in before them though as they will chase us, run around us and generally scare Fidget!
Tips for Dealing with Jealousy
- Divide your time equally.
- If the jealous horse can't be ridden make them feel special in other ways (grooming).
- Check if it is about herd status - the dominant one would expect to be fed first, patted first etc ....
- If possible find out what happens when you are not around, either with a camera or by asking other people from the yard/barn.
- It often gets better with time as the new horse settles in and the older one adjusts (not always as Chesney and Basil demonstrate!).
- If possible work with one out of sight of the other.
- If necessary turnout separately.
- Try a Bach Rescue Remedy http://www.bachflower.com/rescue-remedy-pets-bach-flower/
Have you seen last weeks video? 'How to ..... worm a horse with a syringe'
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Until next time!