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How to Introduce Equids to Each Other 

  1. Poop swap: Equids learn about each other through smell. A few days before you are due to introduce a new equid to an existing group, place some of their poop somewhere their new herd-mates can sniff it. Do the same in reverse and allow them to sniff poop from the equid(s) they will meet. Try to do this swap two or three times. Allowing them to do this investigation in advance makes a huge difference when they meet.
  2. Fence line greetings: Where possible, allow a period where the equid to be introduced can see their new pasture-mates across a safe fence line for a few days in advance of meeting. (This introduction can happen at the same time as the poop swap!)
  3. Neutral ground: Meetings go best if you can introduce on neutral ground first. If you have a safe area that’s not familiar to any of the equids, this neutral territory is ideal. This approach is highly recommended when introducing donkeys.
  4. Allow space: One of the most important things for equids is to have sufficient space to escape other equids they’re unsure of. Making introductions in the largest area you can is the best way to avoid conflict.
  5. Safety first: Prepare the area where introductions will take place. Try to block off dead ends and corners so no equid can get trapped. Round corners, rather than 90-degree corners, mean movement flows more safely.
  6. Shoes: Consider removing hind shoes when introducing equids as a safety precaution.
  7. Have a plan: For the first few hours together, watch carefully and have a plan for separating equids quickly should conflict arise.
  8. Plentiful resources: Ideally, introduce in an area where equids have multiple water points and more hay piles or feeders than equids in the paddock. It’s important that equids don’t feel they have to defend these things. Resources for equids include hay, grass, water, shelter, shade, members of the opposite sex. Think about this allocation when planning.
  9. Friendly resident: If possible, it can be helpful to introduce the new equid to a friendly resident equid (or two in sequence) first before doing the full introduction into the herd. This option will depend on how easygoing your resident equids are.
  10. Adapt: If the equids are having a wild day, or if the weather changes for the worse etc., consider postponing to make sure you have the best chance of a good introduction.