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We just bought our soon-to-be 15 year old daughter her first horse. She is a great, calm just-turned-10 year old mare, who's had couple of foals. We've had her 3 weeks now, since June 14. I wanted her to settle in first and get used to her new place.

Tonight I introduced Rocket and her (Clue) face to face. She is at the neighbor's property which butts up against ours, with a chainlink fence in between, but there's a hotwire there also, since the neighbor has an Icelandic who's a fence leaner. This means Rocket's seen her, but can't quite touch noses or anything with her.

He did great, friendly tail wag, he wanted to sniff her nose, relaxed body signals, no shyness or fear; he was far more concerned with the cheese I was holding than her. :rolleyes: She seemed not so cool with it just a little to me, though; her ears went half-way back a couple of times, and she nickered a little, and DD thought she was meaning that she didn't *like* him. She was afraid Clue might nip at him. I am not as versed in horse 'language' and I stressed the importance of giving off relaxed vibes for her to DD, but I don't know how well she could manage that. Clue was pretty calm, she didn't stamp her feet, she didn't move, I don't know that she would've actually nipped or not.

I didn't let them get super close, and I had them sniff under the gate first; after their initial meeting in the corral, he took some cheese from me and he laid down immediately on command, then DD took her back over by some trees and he and I just walked calmly around the corral a bit, so he could leave smell behind and she could just observe us walking normally.

I really would like them to get along, and apparently he's good with it so far, but any suggestions for the horse? I know this may be a slow acclimation process, and that's fine by me. I'm not as *good* with horses as dogs, and although DD is, she IS only going to be 15, and I don't know if I 'trust' her interpretations. Do you reprimand a horse for behavior you don't want, like a dog? (Like if she was going to nip at the dog) I told DD to give her a little treat while we were there, but she didn't want to.

Thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.
 

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I don't have horses but I have watched several horse/dog interactions. Walking the corral with the pup so his scent can be around is a good start. Honestly, ears only partially back, I think as long as there weren't other stress indicators, it bodes well for their future relationship. Your horse may just need time to observe the dog at her leisure and careful supervised interactions, fence between them for a while. In 10 years, it's possible the horse has had unpleasant experiences with dogs and may get along with him in the future or may not. They'll really be the ones to decide their relationship. Obviously, don't ever leave them unsupervised together and make sure the pupper knows not to mess with the horse and calls off.

oh! and pictures! I want to see this beauty!
 

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Your dog is a dog and your horse is a horse......they don't have to be besties.
Around here our horses are the boss and that is the way we like it. If our dogs get too close and the horses don't like it they will nip/kick at our dogs but I like it that way.....our dogs respect our horses.
Horses are prey animals and it is in their nature to be wary of dogs.
If you can get to a point where your horse is relaxed around the dog and the dog is not going to bark and chase and learns what a healthy distance is then that is all you need.
It is up to you of course but I don;'t correct my horses for nipping at my dogs.....there is a healthy respect there......it is their way of saying get too close for comfort and you get nipped.
Beautiful picture.....your daughter looks so happy......nothing like the feeling of getting your first horse....good luck wit it all.:)
 

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that's a great picture!
 

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Our horses are used to having the dogs around them, and the young horse will chase them in the paddock sometimes. The dogs are very good at reading them and if baby is going to chase, the dogs soon get out of the way..That's the way I like it, as the other way i.e. dogs chasing horses is potentially dangerous as horses in a panic will not always stop for fences etc...(it looks as though your pony has had a scrape with a fence at some point?) I wouldn't reprimand the horse for giving the dog a nip, you want the dog to have a healthy respect for the horse, and be around her without getting too close, as you don't want your dog getting trodden on or kicked..
I would ask the previous owners what experience your mare has had with dogs, I often take a dog riding with me, and it's great for horses to get used to dogs around them as you never know what you'll come across when you're out and about, I also find that although my horses aren't that bothered about the dogs, they do seem more relaxed with them around, they seem to get confidence from having them out with us if we're riding somewhere new..
Your mare looks lovely and that's a happy daughter!
 

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NO you do not punish a prey species for not liking its predator, does not matter who is stronger to the horse a dog is still a wolf and wolves eat horses

horses are prey animals and dogs are their predators


Some horses choose flight some will choose fight

some may get along some will always hate dogs, some will try to kill dogs any chance they get (like a lot of donkey and some lama), thats just the way it is when mixing prey with their predators. Smarter horses dont run from canines like feral dogs or the odd pack of coyotes they just clobber them. Wolves have been preying on horses for thousands of years just like they did and do moose deer and buffalo. That disgust is still there with some of them. SPECially in hot bloods. She is not a hot blood is she? I was guessing a warm blood? Very beautiful. Lucky daughter. Hopefully the horse is not a wild ride though lol or a spook. which is why i assumed she must have been a warm blood. Most hot bloods i ever rode always had a nutty side to them.
 

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I have 17 horses, and we have 5dogs of all different breeds and sizes. My 18month GSD didn't meet horses till she was 6months old. We have a couple horses who will let dogs walk under them and even share food at dinner time, but we also have a few dog chasers. With the not so friendly horses we actually take the horse and dogs for walks on leads. To let the horses and dogs become accustomed with each others smells, the sounds they make, their body language. Soon enough my GSD picked up on anti social behaviour of our horses and know when to stay away. I Definetly use food reward with the dogs, but I dont use food for the horses as I find they loose their concentration and just want the carrots that your hiding in your shirt. Just calm voice and patting for wanted behaviour on both side. Maybe even carry a lunge whip with you to ward off unwanted kicking, biting, barking or nipping.


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Your daughter looks so happy! I remember WELL how I felt when I got my first horse..it was the first thing on my brain when I woke up, the last thing on my brain before I went to sleep, and I'd dream about galloping through open fields WHILE I was asleep LOL...Your daughter must be elated..beautiful horse, too!

I commend you for being so careful, and wanting to give them time to acclimate to eachother. I have to admit, I never did. I guess I had more of the 'toss them in the pool and they'll learn to swim or drown' type of introductions...

someone else mentioned these are prey and predator--their instincts run deep. My dogs always learned very quickly to respect the horses or nearly get kicked or nipped. Usually it only takes one lesson to learn. You have to be a little bit more careful with young pups-but otherwise they just seem to 'know'. Within a very short period of time, they all coexisted nicely with a mutual respect for eachother-sometimes they even get attached to one another. I had had one foster dog that wanted to repeatedly go after the horses irregardless of the consequences. I believe there was something 'off' with that dog-and it was an exception to the 'rule'. You'll learn quickly if your horse has an issue with dogs, but from what you wrote, it doesn't sound like it.
I wish you the best, I wouldn't stress too much over it, though--they SHOULD be just fine together (like others said-with a mutual 'keep your distance' respect). It never hurts to err on the cautious side.
 

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You've already gotten some good advice ,but I would also start working on boundary training with the dog. I don't allow my dogs inside the corral or arena and will have them hold a down stay in a designated spot while I am working the horses.
 

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You've already gotten some good advice ,but I would also start working on boundary training with the dog. I don't allow my dogs inside the corral or arena and will have them hold a down stay in a designated spot while I am working the horses.
This is true--I forgot to mention that. I'm sure your daughter will want a place to work with your horse without distractions. We had one round pen the dogs were taught to stay out of...
 

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In order for your horse to relax around your dog, you have to be at ease your self. If you trust that your dog will not lunge at or try to make chase with the horse, then just focus on your own behavior around the horse. Don't be tense. Your horse is a mirror of your own emotions.
 

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I have dogs and horses, and I have to tell you (being a bit of a worrier), they don't mix. They don't need to be friends. I have a friend who's dog's toe was crushed when her horse stepped on him because the dog was under foot (literally).

As for the ears halfway back, if they are really angry the ears are pinned back. Nickering is usually a greeting, so sounds like the mare was relaxed and just listening to something behind her.

There's a link to a behaviour chart here: Equine Body Language Chart

Remember horses weigh 1000 lbs and up (mine is 1400 lbs), so pick your battles wisely and don't start one you can't finish. Especially if you don't understand horse behaviour, I would hate for you to reprimand a horse for doing nothing wrong.

And certainly if you don't know equine body language, keep your dog (and yourself) well out of harms way. Horses are usually pretty good at showing their displeasure and giving warning signs, but they don't always give you much time to react. If you aren't reading the signs right, they are lightning fast with a strike, kick or bite. You're dealing with two very different animals, a prey animal and a predator, and they behave very differently from one another.

Dogs and horses can get along, for certain, but just because of the sheer difference in size, I don't allow mine to interact.
 

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My gelding can be somewhat dog intolerant. Where we boarded before this barn, the neighbor's dogs would get into the pasture and my gelding would chase them out. He meant business: ears pinned back tight against his head and stamping both front feet at the dogs as he ran at them. His head was low and snaking as he was moving, and he was very quick.

I wouldn't worry about the dog and horse getting along or liking each other. They don't need to be best friends.
Sheilah
 

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One on one my dog and my horses get a long fine together. However my dog scares the hebegebes out of the herd. The whole herd is tense and flighty when he is around so I stopped taking him out to the farm.
 

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I take Diesel Camping and Riding with us and he has learned that horses are no joke. I think it is a lesson that they have to learn unfortunately. While we can ride with the dogs on the trail (Diesel has not yet gone but I have had many trail dogs and all my friends have trail dogs) the dogs know to stay out from under the horses feet and when a horse is not tolerant they seem to know to stay away. I agree with the sink or swim theory, I usually do it with a less aggressive horse that I know will threaten a kick long before they actually do it. I dont have a photo but Diesel was hanging on my horses tail the first time we went camping, she didnt kick just kind of swung him off. Second time out, another horse bit him, now he stays away. Live and learn...I would rather him fear horses than the other way around, if a horse gets into flight mode it can turn disastrous quick!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you everyone. I appreciate all the comments.

Yes, she had a scrape with a fence as a foal. That's an old, old scar. :)

She is not a warm-blood. She has great nerve and is a great riding horse for my daughter. DD takes lessons out at a highly respected ranch with a great gal, who helped us find this mare and kept her for two weeks at her ranch first to see how she *was* and rode her, etc. She was very impressed with her solid nerve.

I am *okay* at reading body language with horses, I have spent time my whole life around them, but not nearly as experienced as with dogs, since I never got my own as a kid. :) I will pass along all the information to DD, I'll probably have her read this to hear all the points of view and info.

We have some great trails out behind us, in the mountains, and while she's a little too young to go out by herself right now, at some point, it would be awesome if she could go on the mare. I'd like for her to be able to take Rocket too, though. It would make me feel just a tad safer-- even if it's only in that he would be a distraction that would allow her time to get away (in the case of a cougar, which are prolific here) or a person, in the intimidating sense (not that I am sure he would do anything, but his looks are enough in a lot of situations). Maybe it will work out, but as has been said, I won't worry too much.

I also like having a dog that I can take anywhere and trust to be solid anywhere, so the exposure is good for him. :)
 

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Be very careful introducing the dog and horse while they are both on the 'hot' fence. They could associate each other with the correction of the fence.

If your new horse didn't like dogs, you wouldn't have been able to get her near your dog. There would be no doubt in your mind that the horse wanted nothing to do with your dog. Your results were both good and bad. It could be your horse is indifferent when it comes to dogs. Which is good. Or it could mean your horse has no respect for dogs, which is bad.

I suspect the nicker you heard was a greeting for the humans and not the dog. Which is a good thing, especially when a relationship hasn't developed yet.

Also, watch your dog very closely. While it may appear that your dog wants to be friendly, a quick nip to a soft muzzle can easily result in stitches. This nip can come from your dog as an invite to play, it doesn't have to mean aggressiveness.

Also - dog aggressive horses are sneaky little devils. Rarely do they come out charging like a bull. They'll seem to ignore until they think the dog's ability for escape is limited, then they'll charge making every attempt to savage the dog. Very quick and very scary. I have a dog aggressive mare. In hand, she is quiet and ignores the dogs. However, in the pasture she'll pretend to graze, keeping an eye on the dog. When the dog comes close she'll charge. She'll chase the dog until the dog is out of 'her' pasture...or till she catches the dog. Not a good thing for the dog. I've seen her chase coyotes as well.
 

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Not necessarily true about not being able to get the horse near the dog. My friend's horse would lure dogs in then, strike at them.

A dog isn't going to protect your daughter from a cougar. Get some bear spray if she's out on the trails.

Even dogs and horses who are friendly are a danger to one another, like I said my friend's dog got stepped on by her horse for hanging around too closely.

I bring my dog to the barn with me, but only when I'm feeding, the horses are in stalls and she's leashed. When I'm riding, she stays at the house.
 

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Not necessarily true about not being able to get the horse near the dog. My friend's horse would lure dogs in then, strike at them.
If a 1100 animal does not want to get near a dog, you'll know it.
 
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