A horse missing his herd is completely normal and natural part of being a horse. We think of it as a problem, but I tend to think any horse who doesn’t care about leaving his herd, at least a little bit, has some deeper issues.
I’ve known people who keep horses alone so they don’t become herdbound (which is terribly sad). These horses don’t run and scream when they leave the barn, and people tend to really like that they come right up to them and want to socialize. A horse without a herd needs socialization of any kind, so this is better than nothing.
A horse without secure attachments in his life will struggle. One who is overly concerned about being away from the herd often has the wrong herd dynamic, inability to bond normally and in a healthy way, or an imbalanced life. Often these insecure or unnatural attachments/lack of attachments start at birth, with a mare who doesn’t know how to mother in a herd who doesn’t know how to behave like a healthy herd does. Add to this traumatic but common weaning practices and we have one anxious horse at a young age…
I think of it like this. I love to be alone, but I enjoy it so much because I have a happy family and home life. I know I can be alone, or with my family. If I did not have my family, I would feel much more stressed alone.
How calm can someone be when their basic needs aren’t being met? Food, water, shelter, security – I’m not going to be writing and riding my best when I’m in solitary confinement, or trapped at Walmart. It isn’t just about being alone or with a group- it’s what kind of group, what’s the quality of my day to day life, and what skill sets do I have for when I have to go out?