Saturday, January 3, 2009

The pecking order

So I decided to write on something out of boredom and suddenly thinking of the topic. Pecking order with horses.

I'll give you an example herd.

6 horses. They live outside 24/7 and are never separated in exception to being worked. None are herd bound. They have been together for the past 3 years (minus the filly who was born last year)

1. 8 year old mare. 16.2hh
2. 16 year old mare 14.2 hh
3. 7 year old gelding 14 hh
4. 17 year old mare. 15.1hh
5. 9 month old filly. She is the daughter of #2 mare.

#1 mare is the herd boss. Everyone respects her.

#2 was former herd boss before #1 came along. She is a good mother and walks confidently until #1 comes along then she scoots as fast as she can to get out of her way. She allows #3 and #5 to be near her and groom her. She also grooms them in return.

#3 gets pushed around by everyone including the 9 month old filly.

#4 gets pushed around by everyone. She never lets anyone get close to her but #1 mare. When #1 mare gets close she pins her ears and bites her side, even offering every once and a wile the swing of her hip. This behaviour is displayed especially when her human is around. Surprisingly, #1 never corrects her. She never lets any other horse but #1 and #5 get close to her.

#4 and #2 are violent towards each other if they are within range.

#5 is going through the pushy weanling state. She has a false sense of dominance over #3. She doesn't back down to #3 and bites and kicks him all the time. Even though she is almost a year old she is still attached to her mother but is weaned.

NOTE: False sense of dominance. This happens a lot with youngsters and their older herd mates. They are at a stage where they are getting bigger and wanting to explore their dominance and older horses that are not their mothers are not wanting to injure them but are inexperienced at discipline. Happens a lot with geldings it seems. To compare to humans it would be like going over to a friends house who has a young kid and the young kid crawling all over you and kicking you and throwing things at you. You do not want to discipline in fear of upsetting the child or even his/her parents. Some people are an exception and never let this happen, just like you never/rarely see this happen with an old brood mare and another mares foal. The brood mare just doesn't tolerate it.

#1 eats with #4. Anyone else runs from #1 when she comes to eat their food.

#2, #3 and #5 eat together.

And so in explaining this pecking orders are NOT linear. This concludes why #1 and #4 eat together even though they are at completely different areas of the pecking order.

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