“Herd Bound” is a term for a reason. BUT I’ve seen it go much further w/i pairs – both between horses and horse/owner.
In 2013, after losing her foal and getting sick, I was worried over what would happen to the sister of the mare if she passed then. She was pastured several pastures away – but often after the sick mare was moved to a small paddock right behind our house, the two would stand in such a way that they could see each other and “converse” (LOUDLY, I might add). Then after seeming to assure each other of being OK, they’d go on about their business. Now that the older mare (1 who lost her foal) has lost her sight completely in her left eye, she seems even more tightly bonded to her sister… They holler and call out to each other when I separate them to drive (now drive the younger sister w/ her daughter and the older sister with another mare that she is better matched with). IF/When Bit loses sight in her right eye as well, I will either put a neck bell on her sister or the other mare she drives with to bring her back and forth in the pasture/paddock… It will be interesting to see what happens when 1 or the other actually pass. I’m not looking forward to it – because I honestly believe that 2nd will follow soon after. Bell is 24 yrs old this year and Bit is 25.
When our 1st stallion was pastured with a mare, we found that as he had problems that included severe weight loss – she would match him. They would often encourage each other to eat, but if one didn’t eat and moved away (didn’t matter which one first), the other was soon at the side of the one who moved off. When he developed quality of life issues w/ spine (bone chip shifted and put pressure on spine, SX removal not an option), he would go down and not be able to get up on his own. She’d stand guard over him and would make a ruckus anytime anyone came to the house or came out of the house. We’d then go get him off the ground and usually into shade w/ water at that point. When we made decision to euthanize him, and took him to a shady, well grassed spot – she went beserk – ramming the corral fence, kicking and striking at the gate, throwing herself to the ground and getting up again and running the fence lines almost non-stop. She quit when/while the deed was done, then started again when his body was moved to the burial sight. We decided (they were the same age and she was having some health issues too, though not nearly as severe or life threatening) to take her to the grave sight and also euthanized her rather than risking severe depression OR painful injury from her actions. She was calm once she saw his body and they were literally buried together. I’ve never regretted that decision. They were both 20 yrs old at the time. O, and they’d been partners originally after we purchased her. Then we sold her and years later, purchased her back. They went right back to being partners – always hanging out together when ever they were pastured together (even when she never did produce another foal or come into heat regularly) and in the last two years they were inseparable.
I experienced the same thing with a pair of spayed female dogs we owned except the the 2nd girl refused to eat and quietly died on her buddy’s grave less than 2 weeks after the 1st had been buried. Physically, there was nothing wrong with the 2nd girl – we took her to the vet 2x during that time & once she was given IVs for both fluid and nourishment. It was hard to bury our first dog, it was harder to deal with the 2nd girl when she was found “sleeping” (again) on the grave. We buried Nikki next to Blaze. Blaze was 10 yrs old and Nikki was only about 5 yrs old.
I’ve seen experiences between owner and horse/pony (as shown in Heart Land – the books are AWESOME, btw & written above) but have not experienced that myself. The longer an owner has a horse that is “theirs”, the more likely I’ve heard/seen this to happen. Also, I’ve seen it work the other way – when an old horse passes and the owner, also older & usually single, doesn’t last long either.
This is both happy & BEAUTIFUL and very, very sad!