Choosing an Alpha Mare - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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Choosing an Alpha Mare

I had three [3] mares that were living happier ever after. then my wife suggested we either ride more or sell. In order for her to ride more, she needed something more her speed. We went out and found another mare that is quite nice. She's about 20 years old, but you wouldn't know it by looking and watching her.

Now comes the problem. Introducing her to my other three mares has been quite a chore. The existing alpha is not about to give up her status and It's been ugly as I do not have any stalls. My gals run together is a 40x60 arena. They love it and are exceptionally healthy. I think the arena living has a lot to do with their health.

Now the question. Does anyone have any experience with this type of situation to make the introduction go easier. I've been thru this before but its never been this bad. Is it possible they will never quit squabbling?
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post #2 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 09:33 AM
Green Broke
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We will usually turn everybody out together for the first few couple times in the big arena because it's neutral ground before we put them in the pen together.
We also spread the food farther apart at feeding time.
They are going to fight at first until they decide who's boss, that's just how it is.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
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post #3 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 09:39 AM
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All 'introductions' I've been a part of start off with separating the new horse from the rest of the herd(s)... Usually in an adjacent area with a separating fence. Then in 2-4 weeks, the new horse is put in with the herd. If there are multiple herds, we've tried to make the best decision based on dynamics.

Per flytobecat, once the intro's are made it is helpful to separate hay as well.
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post #4 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 10:35 AM
Green Broke
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We will put ours in a separate stall by the main pen as well.
I thought OP said they didn't have access to that though.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.
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post #5 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 10:47 AM
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That is a small area for 4 horses IMO. Now I know everyone cannot do this but I only allow one horse per acre. I divide the different herds according to the size of their pasture That gives them plenty of room to get out of each others way.
Those two mares will sort this out themselves. If you could keep the new mare adjacent to the others for a week or two so they can smell and communicate, as the above posters suggested, then the introduction will not be as dramatic.
It is hard to watch them sort out the pecking order. In time they will settle down but if you remove the new mare and place her with the others frequently then every time they are together they will fight.
Good luck. Shalom
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post #6 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 05:17 PM
Green Broke
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Some people can keep their horses in small areas without any major issues but that's not always the case. As dbararabians has said, usually the recommended size for keeping horses in a herd is one acre per horse. This isn't just for grazing maintenance but also because horses need space to be apart. Horses naturally respond by moving away. So if the lead mare chases the new mare the natural thing for her to do would be to run away and then be kept away for a period of time. That can't happen here. Sometimes people do have to keep their horses in a small area, but often that means yarding them alone or being very selective about who is kept together.

Another thing that might be playing a factor is that your horses are pretty cooped up. I know that when I've had a horse stabled they need to have the opportunity to really get out and run everyday, whether that's in a good sized turnout or under saddle. Perhaps if all the hores get out and expend some energy they'll be more settled in their area.

In a pinch I'd tape off a corner of the area and put the horse in it, maybe giving them an opportunity to get to know each other a bit better over the fence. Then introduce them for shorter periods of time, maybe even just together and put the others in the fenced off yard.
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post #7 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for your comments. I really do appreciate it.

Sadly, options are never as plentiful as we'd like them.

As I said before, my three gals were pretty happy with each other until the stranger arrived. I wanted to post here on the forum as maybe someone would have a magic bullet to apply and the bad times could be minimized. At this point, I'm pretty committed to making this work. I wish I could do the things suggested, but it is what it is and we only have so much resource.
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 06:34 PM
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jk no need to apologize. Your doing the best you can with the resources you have. Not all of us were blessed to live in homes or board at places with acreage enough for all the animals to live as natural as possible.
Those mares will settle down and most likely will not damage each other seriously.
Mine live in pastures of 10- 200 acres and still have bite and kick marks from playing and stepping out of their place in the pecking order.
Mares IMO once they settle the dispute accept the new order and live happily ever after. Shalom
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 06:34 PM
Green Broke
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Welcome to the forum! It seems that you are being as observant and as open as you can to advice - I do agree to opt for an introductory 'meet and greet' time, no matter how long that time can or cannot be, as these animals are instinctively fight or flight. I had an un-expected occurrence when bringing home my mare, Sugar - I was told she was a few 'rungs down the line' in her herd, but come to find out, after an hr. of 'meet and greet' across the fence, it did not take long for her to "announce" to Star (who's always been an alpha) and Laney, (her half-sister) that she was indeed the alpha. Just a thought, as in my case, that even a brand new horse to the herd can 'out-alpha' the alpha immediately.
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 06:39 PM
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I completely agree with all the other posters. Introduction time is the key if you have the space or means.

If you are able, you and your wife should try riding the new mare and the alpha mare away from the other two horses. Go on a trail ride and let the squabbling mares do something that doesn't involve fighting over space or friends. They will have to rely on each other to look out for the "boogie man" in the trees :) In my past experience, this has worked for two mares that were grumpy with each other. Even though they didn't necessarily "like" each other, they tolerated each other after they developed a positive relationship out of their territory zone.

It takes time for mares to sort out who's boss. Sometimes you just have to let them work it out themselves. Best of luck!
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alpha , mares witchy , squabbling

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