Relationships can be complicated, and animal relationships are no different. Evaluating compatibility among our animal friends is not as easy as one might think. Personality, activity level, and special needs are all taken into consideration — and even when it seems like a match on paper, only time will tell and you need to have a contingency plan just in case.
We had begun searching for the perfect best friend for Lil’ Bron when we came across a 17- or 18-year-old mini horse gelding named Nugget. Animal control officials in West Virginia had seized him from neglect, with all four hooves overgrown and infected with thrush and white line disease. He has chronic laminitis, a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues (laminae) that bond the hoof wall to the pedal (coffin) bone in a horse’s hoof.
Lil’ Bron and Nugget share a lot in common. Both need to live permanently on a dry lot, as too much grass consumption could cause a laminitis flare. They are both on the slower side activity-wise and enjoy moseying around their paddock and going for short walks. All considered, we thought Nugget could be the perfect friend for Lil’ Bron and proceeded with the adoption process.
Nugget was picked up from a foster farm and brought to our vet for a thorough checkup and an isolation period for responsible biosecurity. It’s a good thing, because Nugget had Equine Adenovirus 1, which he thankfully recovered from before coming home.
So now the exciting part was near: introducing Nugget and Lil’ Bron. Of course, these intros need to be done slowly and methodically. Upon coming home, Nugget spent the first three days getting accustomed to his stall, but was always very excited to see Lil’ Bron walk by him next door. Nugget would squeal (whinny) in excitement, and Lil’ Bron would whinny back! For the next week, they were in adjacent turn-out yards, which allowed us to observe their behavior together while still keeping them safe.
The actual introduction took place in a larger turn-out, with multiple hands on deck in case the horses needed to be separated or something went awry. After an adjustment period, they are now fully relaxed around each other and even lay side by side sometimes. They playfully bite and groom each other. Sneakers loves watching the “12-hour TV drama” happening next door to him, and both minis enjoy going up to the fence line to chat with him. Sneakers has even been spotted grooming Nugget. It’s safe to say Nugget is the perfect fit and loved by all. It’s a Match!