Pecking order?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 12:03 PM Thread Starter
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Pecking order??

So...there about six horses in the pasture and when they see me, they think "Feeding time!" cuz I'm always around to bring them in during feeding time. So they all gather up at the gate and start nipping at one another trying to get in line when its noon! And I always have to get a horse lower down on the pecking order...okay, not the point. My question is: how is the pecking order decided? They are ALL geldings. The top dog is the largest in both pastures so I'm wondering if the largest horse is always at the top of pecking order? Does that have anything to do with it? Also, one horse (in my profile picture <333 his name is Banjo) is rather old and super sweet but he gets in line in front of a younger, "bratty" horse or two. How does that work?? Usually, the pecking order is the same but the middle/bottom does mix up every once in a while. Why?

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post #2 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 12:10 PM
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Any horse can be at the top of the pecking order. I raised a filly that was boss hog the second she hit the ground. It's all based on their personality.

Be careful, and YOU need to become the boss horse. I do it by studying the dynamics, picking out the top horse and making sure he knows I'm in charge. Usually the rest will follow. I always have a rope around my shoulder so I can catch, push, or attack if someone is being naughty.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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thanks!!! I'll definitly take a lead rope with me now! The thing of the top ones is sweet and pretty chill...guess not with his horsey pals!

~ I love it when I catch God watching me through the eyes of a HORSE ~

Rest in paradise my sweet Banjo, 1990-2013 <3
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 01:42 PM
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I have Shetlands that boss big horses around.

It's who is meaner, smarter, and more intimidating I guess.
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by GodGirl11 View Post
thanks!!! I'll definitly take a lead rope with me now! The thing of the top ones is sweet and pretty chill...guess not with his horsey pals!
The lead rope is my favorite tool in these type situations. My mare is pastured with 8-10 others and she is bottom of the totem pole. After a week or two or making myself known as the boss I rarely have to use the lead rope for anything other than leading a horse out. They all move away on just a sounds (tsking/shushing Sound) And a point with my finger or shooing motion with my hand. If they test me by not moving I race right into their bubble and show them that my leadership is not questionable.

As for your question: it just depends on the horses personalities. One thing I've noticed with our herd is that the older elderly girls even though not an alpha always get treated very well by their herd mates. Often allowed to eat first, etc... Our alpha mare keeps everyone in check and reminds me of a mother hen. Caring and kind but firm when needed. Its very fascinating to just sit and watch the herd.
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 03:54 PM
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all a horse really has to do to gain dominance over another horse is win the game of chicken they play. If a horse pins its ears and or kicks and the other horse doesn't back down then generally that other horse will win and remain over the other.
It also has to do with the horse the others trust the most but that mostly goes back to who the other horses think are strongest.

We have one of our pastures which is all geldings that has a weird line up. One horse is over every other horse except 1 and that horse is under almost every other horse out there. The reason why is because the one over everyone backed down one or more times from that one but never has from the others where the 1 that is inferrior to most of the others backed off of everyone else but the 1 who is on top of the others.

Its a crazy dynamic for us as humans but thats because we aren't prey animals. Its not the strongest horse that is on top but ultimately the bravest and one with the best instincts.
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 08:34 PM
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The horses that are usually the most aggressive when new horses are introduced are not the leaders in the herd most times. It is the lowest one or two that will fight the hardest as they don't want any more bosses.

Just throwing that out there.

Interestingly enough, years ago when worked at TB farm, we had an extremely big mare, who was very old at that time. She was always getting run off of her bucket by the others, who would hop around from bucket to bucket, like a litter of piglets.

I had at the time an extremely obnoxious small QH mare, a real witch but low on pecking order herself. For some reason she was put in with this mare grouping.

The big TB mare, Upturning, and the QH mare teamed up and basically took a stand. The QH mare was a kicker, but was too small to intimidate the other TB mares, and the TB mare who was 18.2 was too old and frail to battle the other mares. But together?

Katie bar the door.

Upturning would walk up with the QH mare and can NOT think of her name right now, and the two of them claimed 3rd bucket out of 15 or so....and they ate fine together the whole time they were there. Not one horse challenged them either.

Pretty interesting to see how they figured out a way to get to keep their bucket. We just put in double the feed, and they each shared it equally, no fussing, and no hogging of the bucket at all.

Other mares gave them a wide berth too. QH mare was maybe 15 hands or less.
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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I really loved your comment!!! What is your mare's name? I realize that horses need to know that I'm the boss, whether they're two-thousand pounds or not. Even if it is feeding time, if I need a horse, I go get that horse and not him and he'll have to deal :) And I would abo****ely be content to just sit on a fencepost and watch the horses all day long; seeing how they interact, fight, play, and care for each other!

~ I love it when I catch God watching me through the eyes of a HORSE ~

Rest in paradise my sweet Banjo, 1990-2013 <3
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-11-2013, 08:44 PM
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My 42 year old gelding rules the pasture, he is the smallest, oldest and friendliest of them all, he's only about 14.2(arab/QH). I'm not sure who is second, Bella is a 15 year old 16hh TB and Legacy is a 20ish year old 15hh Appy, and then the donkey is on the bottom. I think Legacy and Bella are constantly competing for second in command and day to day it changes who I think is higher in the pecking order. It's funny because either of them could easily take on Blue since he's old and frail but no one EVER challenges him, I'll come in the pasture to feed and he's right there next to me and as soon as Legacy gets too close to me the ears go back and Legacy moves right off, he doesn't seem to chase Bella away from me as much as Legacy, maybe he knows I like her more then Legacy
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