Companion and advice needed!

Hi everyone,

Following major problems with the livery yard (long story) I am desperate to move my horse home in October - need to finish the land-buying process first and for my collar bone fracture to heal. Poor baby hasn't been treated very well and im looking forward to caring for him myself.

Im in the Aude and will be looking for a companion horse, pony or donkey, ideally not to buy and a good doer would be perfect as they will be living out with a few fields to rotate the grazing and also hay. There is a shelter and also plenty of trees.

I dont know the best way to go about finding a companion horse - any advice would be great, thanks

Also, am I right in thinking both horses will need 3rd party insurance?

Do many of you manage without a school? Im thinking of putting some posts/tape up on a flat bit for a little schooling/lunging area on the grass.

Thanks :)

Hi Claire,

I wish you luck with finding a 'suitable' companion - I have been trying to find the right horse(s) since last year - my horse then went back to Livery - and has been back home again since May! He's doing fine on his own at the moment as he loves having the grass all to himself...though I know that he will eventually miss not having company.
A friend in the village wants to move her two horses over to my place, but there is a dispute where she keeps them at the moment and the farmer is saying that as she owes him money for unpaid pension, he now owns her horses!!!

I've had all sorts of offers, but like you, I do not want to end up with more expense or the responsibility of another horse (already have a 2nd horse still in Livery!) and just want someone to share the fields!!! Having said that, we absolutely love having our horse here to see each day, and I don't regret it for a minute!!!

You can always build a small ring with post and rail. That way if you need a confinement area (first introduction you should seperate for a few days and let them squeal and carry on through the wooden posts not fencing) and illness or need for no movement and even for jabs/feet etc.
That way if you do hack out and leave one horse behind, it's very contained and won't run through a fence. It's not ideal but is better than a horse screaming up and down a fence line.

It also means you can seperate for feeding should one horse need more hay etc, it can be placed in the ring and allowed to eat in peace whilst still having another horse right next to it on the outside.

Barefoot is much better especially when they are in a herd or large area as injuries are less re kicking and off course they don't pull or rip off a shoe by accident.

The benefits to a horse being barefoot are undisputed, if you want further reading, I would be happy to give you links....:-) (All my horses have been barefoot)

As for the ad, try the local riding/livery yards, retail outlets like agri where you purchase horse feed. Tack shop?

I think im going to try (with my far from perfect French) to discuss this option with our neighbour as i could work quite well.

I am a bit concerned about the other horse being stressed out if I leave with Spirit but we'll cross that bridge.

Any ideas on where to place an ad looking for a retirement horse, ive tried a big domaine nearby, leboncoin, word of mouth.

I think you're quite right re. the French slimmer horses and better feet, so many are shoeless around here and generally they look fine, apart from a poor Merens nearby with cracked feet but he seems comfortable?!

Thanks again

The neighbour actually sounds like a good plan. You can always seperate them at first and deworm etc. If they don't get along you can switch for a better match. At least that way you are not committed. Taking care of anyone elses horse has it's problems but can be solved by having a contract which indemifies you against accidents and clearly states that you have the right to call a vet on their behalf etc. I think if you were to google you could find such a contract. It may be an idea to put out an add looking for a retirement livery. There are always people who can't bear to part with their horse but don't want the daily interaction and may be happy for you to trail occasionally. Bear in mind with two horses, it's difficult to trail one out and leave the other behind.
Experience has taught me to go looking and asking, the same horses and owners turn up again and again and potential problems can be avoided.

Perhaps a donkey could be your answer, although it leaves you riding alone (never a great idea) and not really ideal for your horse either. Is there no one currently at the existing yard that would jump to move with you?

It certainly helps if you have another set of hands/interested party involved as long as you get along and they respect it's your property with your rules, but again a contract and clearly set out rules will help.

On a side note, it seems (at least from what I have seen), very few French owners feed hay and the hay I have seen generally seems quite poor quality. I guess if they are breeding or farming it's more a livestock situation than loved pet! On the plus side they do tend to have better feet (constant change of pasture and seeking food) and have less issues being on the skinner side than the fat laminitic ponies that are overfed by "kind" owners!

Thanks for the advice! I definitely have a lot to do by October :)

I was a bit worried about taking on a 'free' horse, bound to have problems/future costs. Ive been offered a 6 month old with neuro problems, if I was made of money I would but my other half would probably kill me haha

Id worry about leasing a pony to someone incase of accidents/liability, probably fine but daunting!

A friend wants to put a horse with mine but im not sure we will get along that well on a day to day basis! Also she hasnt found one yet and its all a bit up in the air.

In a dream world id find something which can hack a little, so my partner and I can go out sometimes together (he can ride already) but thatll probably be hard to find!

I have heard of a pony who is being retired due to POD i think (need to get facts) but im not sure who would be responible for vets, farriers, worming etc...?

My neighbour also has ponies (poor French guy, loves them but pretty sure they're not wormed, they get thin in winter as he moves them round to find grazing, no hay). He said i could use one of his but im not sure.

Thanks again Annette - the hunt is on and its going to be trickier than I thought!

P.S Forgot to add.....If you do take a horse over from someone else please make sure you get a signed piece of paper handing the horse ownership over to you. It's not unknown for someone to come back even years later and decide it's still their horse!!!! I'm not sure what French law dictates but here in SA I make it a legal transition by purchasing the horse for a small monetary amount.....


I would be very wary of campanion horses and the financial/emotional cost later. It may be preferable to find someone who wants to retire their horse with you. This has many benefits including an extra pair of hands when you are sick/holiday, a riding partner?, and no cost to you in terms of feed/vet. Unfortunately there are many people who would rather "dump" a horse on another owner than put a horse down and you will be left with the problems and heartache. In my experience very few "free" horses are suitable!

You have time now to look around your area and talk to the horse people about who is who and if you mention what you are about to do, I am sure you will be able to pick either the horse or the person who will make that transition easier. I would also make sure you do it on a trial basis in case the horses don't get along (some don't and when it's only the two horses it can create major problems!).

You might also look for a pony type to own that could be "leased" later to a teen. I would be careful to choose a horse/pony that is already living out and is an easy doer, thoroughbreds and stable kept horses need adjustment time and extra feeding work.

If you agree to a trial first you will have lessened the stress in case things don't work out.

Any horse you consider, you need to know the full history and what kind of ailments you might expect to see. Old horses are not necessarily a bad option, but serious old injuries can cost you dearly. So my advice would be to ask and keep asking until you find a horse and possibly owner that will fit with your requirements.

It is fairly easy to create a menage with electric tape and uprights in concrete paint cans that can be moved around.

Good luck searching and let us know how it goes....:-)