Lonely Filly

Q. My 11-month-old filly lives in a pasture by herself because the older horses try to hurt her. I am a first-time horse owner--is living alone hurting her social skills?

via e-mail

A. Your filly would likely have a better chance of learning how to get along with other horses if she could be housed with one or more herdmates. Do you know why the other horses are trying to hurt her? It might be worth figuring out the reason so that she can remain with the group.

In the meantime, if your filly can see other horses along a safe fenceline or inside a round pen within the herd's pasture, that would in most cases be better for normal socialization than total isolation. Housing one of the herdmates with her would also be better than keeping her alone at this age. Having said that, I have known plenty of young horses that were pastured alone and behaved normally when pastured with other horses later in life.


About the Author

Sue McDonnell, PhD, Certified AAB

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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