Horses do mourn - just like an elephant mourns
It's always a sad time when an animal has to be put down, not only for the humans who have known and cared for them but also for all the animals left behind.
On a number of occasions we have been asked the question ' will my other horse, horses or animals feel the loss', the answer is absolutely yes, particularly if they have been part of a pack or herd for a number of years. Horses are very similar to elephants, they mourn, need time to smell the ground, need time to adjust, and if it is a mare that has been lost then the boys left behind, within a 24 or 36 hour period, if given the chance, ask another mare to take the lead.
If this is not possible, then you may need to fill the gap for a while, by leading them (rope free) in to their field or further away in their field to graze. However, they will, often be seen going back to smell the ground or the the area where the horse was put down. They share a similar grieving process to elephants.
The photo's below are fairly self explanatory but give you an example of the movement in horses left behind after a death.
The other thing we would like to mention is if a horse or cow or elephant has an internal health issue, you will often find that he/she starts to distance her/himself from the herd, probably over a period of a few months or weeks . . . so if you notice this then keep an eye on everything the animal does i.e.
- It's eating pattern
- It's eyes
- It's coat
- It's belly size
- It's muscle mass
- It's toilet habits
- It's lying down habits
- It's general body langauge
- It's interaction with the other horses/animals
- How much or little he/she drinks
Below are a few photographs in various stages :
1 Midge, one of our adorable horses, a few days before she was put down
2 Our little Shetland seen here smelling the ground where she lay down for the last time.
3 One of the other horses around the blanket used to allow our mare to lie down on as she collapsed to the ground.
3 The two of them smelling the rug
4 The next day the boys asking another mare to take Leadership . .
The horses have a routine and the same applies to feeding times as well as going in and out of their stable and it is only now that the herd left behind have adjusted to her lack of presence - and the lack of the toadie faces she used to pull if they ever went any where near HER stable.
One of the ponies, still thinks he should wait until she is in her stable before he goes in . . .
So the message in here is really - never underestimate the animals left behind feelings.
On occasions it has been known, this is if a single horse is left - that something as simple as some of the mane or tail hair and the rugs owned by the horse you have lost, as well as a painting on the wall or one of these long plastic mirrors (where the remaining horse can see himself ) can ease the pain and upset . . . although nothing will ever replace that one horse . . . . there can be substitutes but never will they find one with the same antics.
Although Cattle are seen more as a money making scheme, they also feel the loss, but because they are in a herd, generally a larger herd than horses are kept in, they soon latch on to another cow to fill that void.
If you have an animal left behind that is going through a grieving process and doesn't seem to be getting out of it, please, please contact us so that we can communicate with him/her to tell you what THEY would like. . . on behalf of many who have not been given this chance but wish they had been. . . . thank you.