Ruby and Pearl: Day 13 Horse Training/ Separation Anxiety or Buddy Sour

Ruby's Affection Fixed on Pearl

Ruby’s Affection Fixed on Pearl

I was wrong about Pearl not caring about the separation from Ruby. She didn’t show any anxiety in the pasture. However, I rode Pearl yesterday. I saddled up Pearl pretty close to where I’ve been keeping Ruby, and Pearl showed the same kind of anxiety that Ruby had displayed. The anxiety was not nearly as intense and violent, but the same kind of behavior stepped down a notch or two. She is irritated when we’re going away from Ruby and pushy when we were going toward her.

I have never tried to resolve separation anxiety before so I am not sure what to expect. I’m not even sure if it can be solved with the two horses on the same farm. So far my only plan is to keep them separated and hope they get used to it. Ruby isn’t quite as demonstrative about anxiety as she was at first and Pearl did not show anxiety until we were in close proximity to Ruby and then our training difficulties arose.  She kept trying to get close to Ruby and was irritated by my insistence to stay with the lesson.

My training problems grew worse after the separation for both horses. I’m confident that my diagnosis is correct. Now the challenge is to see if my prescription for healing works over time.


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4 Responses to Ruby and Pearl: Day 13 Horse Training/ Separation Anxiety or Buddy Sour

  1. Kathryn says:

    I like that you’re listening to your own thoughts about fixing this, trying to think like your horses and move things away from their co-dependency. My tendency would be to Google it to death and find out what worked for others. Your readers are riveted!

  2. Joy Hayenga says:

    Animals do have best friends and gain comfort and security from them just like we do. Why would it be problematic to let that relationship stand.

  3. J.R. says:

    Thank you Kathryn, I’m still trying to work out whether your comment comes to a complement or not:) My mom was more blunt “Joey always has to figure out his own way to do things.”

    Your question is worth a whole blog post, perhaps a whole book. For instance: it takes in the whole man and woman thing about asking for directions when you’re lost.

  4. J.R. says:

    Thank you Joy, You are correct. Horses tend to have best friends. My horses all have special friends in the herd. This is a very normal. I’ve seen it all my life with horses. I’ve heard that in some horses it can turn into an obsession, but I’ve never experienced it personally with my own horses. Horses can have mental illness. They are very sensitive to post traumatic stress related issues. Mental illness in horses is very difficult and sometimes impossible to correct.

    I was hired to refresh Ruby’s skills as a riding horse. I was concerned when I became aware of Ruby’s fears, which in the thousand pound animal can be dangerous. I had trained Ruby as a three-year-old. She impressed me back then as being mild, a very affable personality. I know her owners. They are good people. I also trained Pearl who in contrast to Ruby was the same as I remembered her when I left off her training those years ago.

    The apparent change in Ruby’s personality was very unusual and it worried me about her prospects as a riding horse which will also affect her future life. Both in terms of her future employment and also her contentment as a well-adjusted living being.

    I believe my efforts are working. I think Ruby’s friendship was on the verge of becoming an obsession. Her dangerous fear surfaced when she was separated from Pearl. Now in their separation Ruby already appears to be more relaxed and well-adjusted.

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