07-29-2012, 07:58 AM
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It all depends on what you call 'the boss'
I had a mare that was the sweetest natured horse ever. She adopted foals as if they were her own and all the youngsters gravitated towards her.
I had five brood mares with foals at foot. Come near weaning time I would move the yearlings and this mare in with the mars and foals. Within a day the foals would all be following 'Nanny' mare. Come feed time some foals would share with their dams but mostly they would stand with Nanny, they were always the last to go the a feeder. The mare would stand and allow the youngsters to eat and if any of the other mares came near she would just give 'that' look and they would back away.
She was always last to drink or feed, but, if there was any upset she would be the one that would settle it just by walking towards the culprit and staring at them. I never ever saw anything challenge her in any way.
See her at feed time and you would say she was omega but watch her for a period of time and you would see she was in fact a passive alpha leader.
How I miss that mare! Weaning was easy with her as the foals loved her more than their dames. (I swear she told them wonderful stories) She could settle anything down.
Once when she was away at stud we put her in with a group of trouble makers - mares that were fighting their way to leadership. It was an experiment on my behalf. She went into the field and all the others came charging in a challenging way to her. She totally ignored them. Refused to sniff and squeal, just walked out to the middle of the field and ate.
The other mares were perplexed. They couldn't work out this lack of attitude to strange horses. An hour later they were all following her around and nothing was kicking out fighting for being high in the pecking order.
She also adopted three orphan foals, she couldn't feed them as she never had a foal at foot, but she mothered them as she did her own. These were three of the best adjusted bottle fed youngsters ever thanks to her.