Getting rid of the dominant herd member

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Getting rid of the dominant herd member

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    04-17-2009, 10:11 AM
Green Broke
Getting rid of the dominant herd member

I'm seriously considering selling our pony, Ogre. My girls hardly ever ride him anymore and I'm too busy with Stella and Luna to drive him anymore. He's also pretty aggressive toward Stella keeping her from her share of hay and not letting her in the barn in bad weather. I'm wondering how other herd members typically react to their leader's absence. Stella will not do anything without Ogre's "permission". I have just sat and watched them and he really controls her every move and she's more than willing to accept it. I understand that's just the dynamics of their herd, but I'm worried about the two of them (especially Stella) being basket cases if he's gone. Will one them eventually assume the roll as leader?
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    04-17-2009, 10:30 AM
Jen, I just put Charlie at my neighbor's because of the same problem. Bobo is my primary horse with Charlie, and the pony, Dusty, there for company. Charlie was a barn hog and would not allow the other two out of the bad weather. It got to the point that I would have to put Charlie in a stall during storms so that other two could get some shelter.

Bobo stepped up to become the dominant horse (there always has to be one). He is not a hog about things and has become very friendly with Dusty. The problem I had the other day was that when I took him out for a ride, he became buddy sour, something he never was before. I chalked it up to a bad day and yesterday I took him out again for a 20 min ride; he was fine again.

My point, really, is that when the Alpha horse is removed, it changes the dynamics of the herd and another one will step in to take their place. Bobo carried on for a day by calling for Charlie, then things returned to normal - Dusty couldn't have cared less.
    04-17-2009, 10:37 AM
I keep 12 to 15 brood mares together and they have their pecking order. When one is added or removed they jockey for position in the pecking order but not a great deal they already have it established so theres not a great change when one is removed. There can be a big change when one is added though if the new mare is an alpha type.

Also the lead mare can change, in a herd theres the leader and theres the alpha but rarely is the same horse both.
    04-17-2009, 10:52 AM
Our lead mare recently passed away due to foaling complications. She was turned out with her 2yrs old filly and her yearling colt. In the other two paddocks we have a gelding and two mares.

The first day they were turned out without her they stood at the front of their paddocks, occasionally whinnying. The funny thing is, our lead mare was only ever turned out with her two offspring and not the other 3, yet they still were "lost".

A little less than a week passed and the gelding got over it. The one mare use to be turned out with our lead mare when she was a yearling and continued to stand by the front of the paddock while her paddock buddy went to her normal routine.

After the week passed the other mare got over it but the leaders two offspring were still lost. Its been almost 3 weeks and things are completely normal now. It took the two young ones almost two weeks to get use to it but they did in the end.

This mare was the leader for 14 years.
    04-17-2009, 07:24 PM
Montana is the same way with Gem.
Poor Gem gets exiled and basically has to stand in the corner or way in the back.
It was fine in the winter with the roundbale, but Gem was always the first to give Montana room.

When Montana leaves either Vega or Morgan will step up to be alpha, and I'm sure Gem will be happier.
    04-17-2009, 09:05 PM
Green Broke
I definitely agree with all the above posts. The remaining "herd" will re-establish the pecking order and all will settle down.

BTW....Ogre is a GREAT name for a pony with a BIG attitude!
    04-18-2009, 10:09 AM
Green Broke
Thank you everyone! Seems like a silly question now, but I'm a worrier. The only good thing about having him is when I take one of the girls out to work with, the other one has him for company and they don't worry about who's out. With only two I'm sure they'll be a little worried about being left alone when the other is out working, but we'll see. I feel terrible because I am attached to the little bugger, but just having the two would be so much easier.
    04-19-2009, 01:21 PM
When it was just Gem and Vega, Gem was the one who would get worried when Vega was taken out. As long as she was in sight distance he was fine.
Vega on the other hand could have cared less about where Gem was.

I'm sure they'll be fine and will work things out between them :)

ETA you could always try getting a goat or a donkey to keep them company.
    04-20-2009, 09:32 AM
Green Broke
I'm sure they'll be fine and will work things out between them :)
You're right! Thanks again for the help. Oh yeah, we already have a goat, but he prefers the company of dogs.


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