Mixing Different Breeds of Horses

Is there a ‘rule of thumb’ regarding mixing different horse breeds together in the same paddock? I’m still new to owning horses and I don’t want to make a rookie mistake.

I have two Quarter Horses, one is a 7 yo and the other is a 15 yo. I assume that since Quarter Horses are closely related to Paints there shouldn’t be any problem mixing them together in the same enclosed area.

Let’s assume they are all geldings and of similar ages.

But what about mixing them with other breeds? Since different breeds have different temperaments is it foolish to mix, say, Arabians with Quarter Horses in the same paddock? Or does it depend more on the individual horse’s personality?

For example, I may have to put them in with a bunch of Tennessee Walkers for a while. I know that horses will chase each other to establish a pecking order, but I don’t know if mixing breeds makes any difference.

Any thoughts?


I’m not one of the resident horse-owners here on the Dope, but I was around them a bit (and hoo, boy, did I read about them when I was a girl. :slight_smile: This qualifies me as an “expert” until someone else wanders along. Since you’re bumping after a half-hour and all!) Anyway, if they’re all geldings, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem - relative to, for instance, throwing a stallion into the mix - but horses don’t really pay attention to breeds the way people do. Individual temperaments rule: if one is particularly aggressive or badly socialized, say. Or just an asshole. Horses come in asshole form just like people.

Any chance you can let your horse(s) get acquanted over a fence first? What do the owners of the Tennesee Walkers - beautiful horses, BTW - have to say about your little intruder(s)? :slight_smile:

The barn I ride at has a paddock where two miniature horses, two warmbloods, and two ponies live. They all get along fine. I’ve personally never heard of anyone separating horses by breed.

It isn’t the breed that matters, it’s the individual temperament more than anything, plus the space available. If you have a really big field you can put just about anyone together because there’s room for the picked-on on ones to get away. In a smaller space you can get injuries if a bully corners another, or a timid horse panics and crashes into the fence truing to avoid the tough guy.

There is generally less kerfuffle if you have all geldings together and all mares together, though I have a mixed herd (I have 7, currently). Getting them acquainted slowly with a good fence separating them will usually reduce the chasing syndrome, but not always. If there’s one really dominate horse he may make life miserable for one or more of the others for a bit.

Make sure that if you are feeding hay (assuming they aren’t out in a big grass field) that you put out a couple more piles of hay than there are horses, and spread them out as far as possible. If you feed off a round bale, keep a close eye on them for a while to make sure one horse isn’t hogging the whole thing. My one dominant guy (who’s also and air fern and doesn’t need to eat all day) will just stand by the hay and guard it, even if he isn’t actually hungry. If you feed grain & don’t have stalls to feed them in, make sure the more timid ones get a chance to finish their feed in peace by tying or penning the faster eaters.

Hope this helps, and happy horsekeeping!

Is this a joke? No, there is no reason to separate horses by breed, ever. Do you mind me asking what would give you the idea there was a reason? Do you have any horsekeeping books to refer to, or any professional horsepeople where you keep your horses? I recommend the Pony Club “D” Manual for basic knowledge.

Many people separate mares and geldings, others have “mixed” herds. Stallions are always separated from other horses, behind a double fence.

saje offers some good points about feeding in the field.

I agree with others here – in mixing a herd, breed is of little importance. Far less than the individual temperament of each horse. They will determine their own rank within the herd’s ‘pecking order’, and breed won’t have much to do with it. (Or even size – I have seen a Shetland pony mare clearly the boss in a herd of mostly Shire draft horses that were way bigger than her.)

Note on piling N+1 stacks of hay for N number of horses. I have watched one horse get shooed away from a pile of hay. He goes off and commandeers another pile. The horse that was eating there nonchalantly walks over to another pile, and the horse there, well, you get the picture. If they are all being fairly nice to each other, eventually the first horse gets nudged away from “his” pile and it starts up again. Gee. I need to get a job.

I love watching herd dynamics. I have frittered away a stupid amount of time just watching things like this, it’s fascinating.

Okay, so breed doesn’t matter. Good to know. This was not a joke. I have done some reading and was concerned that some ‘hot’ breeds, like Arabians might run my horses to death. The horses aren’t on my property so nobody is standing around watching to make sure everyone gets along. I will only know what is happening by bite marks or other injuries.

In this case the group of Walkers has been together for many years, so I would be introducing two Quarters into an established herd of horses who happen to be of a different breed. My guess is that they will reject them and that some bullying will happen until my horses establish themselves in the pecking order. I just wanted to make sure there weren’t rules about not mixing breeds, for whatever reason.

It sounds it’s a good idea to introduce them for a few weeks in a small paddock nearby. That way they can get to know each other first. And when we do mix them I will hang around to see what happens… especially during feeding time.

Thanks everyone!

Despite what people may have told you about Arabians or Thoroughbreds being OMG HOT HOT HOT, most horses spend 99% of their day standing around. Including Arabians and Thoroughbreds. And, temperment is not as determined by breed as some would have you believe. I know Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses, including one that is 1st cousin to Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, who can be ridden by the smallest, most tentative child or anxious adult beginner, and I know Quarter Horses that are nervous, flighty, and stupid.

Look at the brain, not the breed! (which is to say, look at each horse as an individual and not as a collection of generalizations that may or may not apply).

Yeah, a friend of mine used to have an Arabian stallion that I was able to ride easily as an 11 year old. Breed doesn’t tell you much other than what the horse might look like. Good luck with the move!

They can even change very quickly, depending on the circumstances.

We were hitching up a Morgan Stallion for a driving class, in the middle of the excitement of the Minnesota State Fair, when a 3-4 year-old child came around the corner, cried “horsie!”, ran up and threw her arms around a front leg and held on for dear life. (While the fool of a mother said to me rudely “would you please move, so I can get a picture?”) The horse just stood there calmly, bending his hed down to look at the child attached to his leg.

But a few minutes later, when he was a block down the street and approaching the Coliseum show ring, you would hardly have recognized that horse – ears up, nostrils flared, tail flagged, feet moving – he recognized the show ring, and was way different from a few minutes before.

Now that you have had real answers, can I give a snarky one?

Yes, it’s foolish.

Mixing them in the same paddock will make it real obvious how plodding & dog-like the Quarter Horses are, in comparison to the Arabians.