A case of feeling homesick


A few weeks ago, I went to the doctors with a few complaints. Nothing major, but a few little odds and ends that just made me feel like I was getting older faster than I would like. Little things that didn’t add up in my head and things I couldn’t fix myself, so I wanted to ask an expert.

My Doctor is a general practitioner that I have had for the last 3 years and we have grown to know each other. But, I was really surprised about what she said when diagnosing my new aches and pains. The first thing she said was that I was a “transplant” just like she was. She said that she had had the same symptoms that I was describing a few years after she had moved with her husband from North Dakota to Maryland 7 years earlier.

Her diagnosis: “You are homesick”


And before I could say, “No way”, I started crying.

I guess she was right. My body was trying to tell me that my emotions were out of whack and I wasn’t listening.

It was interesting to me that my body had to come up with some aches and pains in order to tell me that I was emotionally missing my family. Even though I thought I was fine and handling being in a new state with new responsibilities and new stressors.

My doctor said that being a “transplant” and leaving my family and friends behind, while working through new situations and stressors, was causing physical and emotional repercussions.

She said the best thing that I could do was to go home and spend some quality time with my family and friends.

That really got me thinking because if I feel this way without my family close by, I wonder if this is how horses feel when they are sent to a new owner or a new trainer?

Even though some people prefer to be alone, I think that humans for the most part enjoy being a part of a group or family and I know horses are the same way. They are instinctively herd animals and enjoy being a part of a herd not only for protection, but also for companionship.

That got me thinking about how important it really is when you have only one horse, to help him or her to feel a part of your family or you a part of his or her herd.

Being alone, isolated, out of touch, or in a new situation is stressful for both humans and horses. Being a part of a group, family, or herd makes it easier to handle new situations.

And as I found out the hard way, when you are emotional, isolated, and away from family and friends your emotions can turn to physical ailments.

So as the doctor prescribed, I planned a trip out to California for the week of Thanksgiving to be with my family and friends. But of course, I was then worried about leaving my horses at the farm, my new herd.

There’s always 1 joker in the family!

Then I found out, first hand, that horses need their herd just as much as humans need their family.

Two days before I left for Maryland, Jazz started showing signs of colic. I had already told my boys that I was leaving for a short while and would be back in a week. He has a nervous stomach and he gets upset when I’m gone for a while. So, I called the vet and gave Jazz his seasonal tea along with a colic medicine. Within 24 hours he was much better and I felt ok to leave him with a trusted caretaker.

Of course, I call every day to make sure things are good with him and the rest of the horses on the farm. I was told that they seem to miss me, but they are also spending more time hanging out with each other, even over the fence lines.

Sometimes we aren’t so different from our horses.

So next time you go out to your horse, make sure he knows that you are a part of his herd and that he will be a part of your forever family. Being part of a loving group and not feeling isolated is good for all of us, including our horses.

I’d love to hear in the Comments below if you or your horses have experienced something similar!


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  • Very true. I haven’t seen my children and grandchildren for over a year. I slept 11 hours last night from emotional exhaustion.

  • LorriAnn Landles says:

    This was super helpful as my husband is planning a major move for our family to another state. I will definitely be watching my 4 horses 5 dogs and 5 kiddos… and myself! Thank you.

    • As long as they know they are a herd, a family, and they will stay with you as such I think they all will be happy.

  • So glad you wrote this blog.. It’s a major ‘pet peeve’ of mine that so many people fail to recognised how big the impact is of moving horses away from their herd, family, familiar surroundings etc… I’m a veterinarian homeopath and I see so many issues that are related to this.
    I recently bought a new horse after having said goodbye to my sweet mare and he is a Highlandpony from Scotland (I live in the Netherlands). He was caught out of a huge herd of over 60 horses last october where he was born and lived for 7,5 years. He was taken out of that herd and after 3 months he was sent to a trainer for 1 month, than back to the owner for one month and than the huge trip to the Netherlands… He arrived totally feral, all his ‘training’ (in my opinion there was way to much done to and with this horse in such a short period of time) was gone and I have a feral horse that can’t be haltered on my paddock. He lives with me for just over 8 months now and I haven’t done much with him… a little bit of clickertraining, lots of ‘just sitting there’ and showing him he has a voice and a choice now. He is véry reluctant of being touched on his head so as long as I can’t touch his head porperly I won’t try to work on haltering him.
    I just had a reading done with him and – of course I already knew this – misses the space and hills of Scotland (we don’t have that much space here in the Netherlands so his paddock is already better than what a lot of horses have) and he misses his friends and his family. It’s up to me to give him the time and space he needs and of course I will treat him for this with homeopathy, which usually works great for horses that are homesick or grief from a loss. Homeopathy can also help ‘prepare’ horses for a move of a big change in their herd.

    I just wish more people would recognise this… I cringe when I see how often and easy some people move their horse from barn to boardingfacility, like it’s a bike you just park somewhere else.
    And this is also the reason why you should be patient with your horse when you take them out for an overnight trip or show… You know it’s only for two or three days, they don’t and for them it’s just as bad as moving away forever.

  • You made a really good point! I never would have thought. I have a new mare she is so funny because when I get home from work and go feed she always comes up for a kiss on the nose and my gelding will have to come up and put his nose to my hair and my grumpy just turns and looks and he purrs. Yes, my horse purrs! Lol

  • My family is almost completely gone. I basically have my younger sister left and not many friends. I spend most of my time alone with my horses (17) , dogs (6) (Malinois) cats,(2) chickens. (17) They are my herd and and are all spoiled. I am going to be 66 in a week. Most days I do good, but the gloomy weather makes me over sleep at times.
    I started putting a work shop together. I make stuff out of pallet boards and distress it to make it look old. I love it.
    Hugs to all.

    • It sounds like you have an incredible fur family going there and lots of love being exchanged. 🙂

  • Yes as this time of year makes me terribly homesick as the smell of fir trees fill the air I think of home as in the area I’m from has pines, fir and cedar along with oaks and other trees even the snow I miss. I too had problems when leaving any of my pet family for any time span to come home to clothes chewed apart, decorated tree tipped over, bulbs all over and of course the innocent look on their faces. Ahhh but the horses, they would look at me with why haven’t you been here rubbing their face on my chest and following me step by step as I walked them through the pasture to feed them in their stalls. So I’d sit for a while and have a one on one with them saying I would be back to feed them that evening. Thank you for your tips. I hope your trip was good and Happy Holidays.

    • Thank you, Connie. It was a good trip and I feel much better after seeing my family for the holiday. Now I’m glad to be home with my herd.

  • I am glad you had a diagnosis, as odd as it seems. I’m also glad you went to a doctor who you trust and is helping you. Finally, thank you for sharing your horse’s feelings as well. My hubs has told me that mine miss me when I’m gone. I have a move coming up this fall. I hope to do my best to set new up like old. Altho sometimes I feel like their excitement only is because I have food. And they will still have each other. Blessings.

    • If they are excited to see you and you go sometimes with food and sometimes without food, then they are happy to see you too. 🙂

  • Barbara Smith says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that horses need to be part of a herd. So I have two horses, I have one mare, a Trakehener who spends most of her time in the stable. The other mare a warm blood can be found in daylight hours standing in the soggy windswept field. I have given up trying to feed them in the field as the hay just blows away, so they have three stables, with ever open doors containing a wheelie bin full of hay each. I feel sorry for the warmblood mare, she is standing alone, hardly grazing all day. They both seem to sleep inside the stables happily. You just can’t make a companion be companionable if they don’t want to be. They hate me to close a stable door, I believe they are too small for either of them to lie down safely.

  • Sue Pacanowski says:

    Love your thoughts and feel they are completely valid! Also, the joker in your family looks exactly like the joker in my family 🙂

  • It’s very interesting. The three times I have taken my horse away for a couple of nights (for what I call an adventure) she has been fine the first night but the second night she starts to get anxious, pacing the fence and calling out. It hasn’t been as much fun as I thought it would be. I used to float out with friends for day adventures which was great fun but they have both moved to their own life style blocks.

    I find it hard with my girl as she is an easy keeper and at certain times of the year needs to be out of the main herd and in with the ponies so she is on less grass when it is the most luscious/sugary. That time is fast approaching). If she is in with a mate she tolerates it but that horse is up for sale. She much prefers being in with the main herd with her boyfriend Buster.

    I think having a thoroughbred was less stressful, actually. I do love Sahara, though and do keep her in the main herd when I can. She is a tb x. Possibly Kaimanawa. She has got a lovely gentle nature and lovely paces. I do enjoy our leisurely bareback rides around the place. Particularly at one of my favorite beaches.

    Do you get to visit your family much, Teddie? Must be hard when you live so far away from them. Zoom has become a wonderful tool, hasn’t it 🙂

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