When we lost Fidget a few weeks ago the vet said it was important that Basil and Chesney saw him. This made sense to me at the time, although I felt that they knew something was wrong anyway. I also have been watching them both carefully over the last few weeks to make sure they are OK. It made me think about whether horses mourn the loss of a friend like we do. So I did some reading!
I cannot say that I have seen any of these behaviours in Chesney and Basil. They have both been eating the same and generally acting normally. However, Basil was not as settled being ridden (I did not go out of the field) but I am not sure if that was because I was unsettled and transferring my feelings. They have certainly both stayed closer together than they generally do. They have both been looking over Fidget's door and looked out across the gate to see if he is somewhere else too. I do feel as though they have been missing him a bit but is this just me transferring my feelings? I also believe though that they knew he was ill and perhaps that it was his time!
As horses are herd animals it makes sense that they rely on their friends. Often in herds they make closer friends with another horse - like a best friend. Chesney was best friends with my old horse, Josephine, he did not see her put down or see her afterwards. Rightly or wrongly I felt at the time that he would be too unsettled so we took him to stay for a week somewhere else. Fidget stayed with her. When Chesney came home he didn't even look for her or whinny once. She had been ill for a few days, I think he knew and also knew it was time!
Basil and Chesney I think were closer to each other than to Fidget, if I had lost one of them maybe the reaction would have been different. Horses listen to their instincts more than we do, they are more in tune with each other and perhaps they just know it is time.
I think that probably as with anything each horse will react differently, after all they are all individuals. It is important to acknowledge that they will feel something and to give them time and understand if they are acting differently.
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Until next time!