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We talk about herd dynamics

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        02-12-2013, 03:37 PM
      #11
    Weanling
    Interesting. I first noticed the issue when I was bribing the baby with grain across the fence. Mom wanted some but would only inch in closer to get some and wouldn't shove the baby out of the way. There is no other horse in the pasture to teach the baby either.
    I do suspect she will be a hellion.

    Anyone have the horse who wants to be the Queen Bee's BFF? Not take the position, just the security so she can be a snot to everyone else?

    It is also interesting to see how a horse behaves when they are under the reign of a iron fisted leader, a more passive leader, or just pastured with a low man on the totem pole.

    My mare is a groveling dependent whimp, Queen Bee's best buddy and a jerk to everyone else, and then a social butterfly who has no problems with anyone and neither are socially over the other.
         
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        02-12-2013, 05:04 PM
      #12
    Green Broke
    I agree with jaydee. People tend to confuse respect with fear. The leader - a true, honest, respectable leader - cares for his herd members and takes their feelings into account. They are someone whom the horse can look to for guidance and security and not feel that they have to keep on edge because that person is going to start chasing them around any minute if they become hesitant. It is indeed bullying.
    Sometimes you have to let the horse have what he wants when he needs it so that he knows you are not going to push him over the edge when he is unconfident about something (for example, if the horse gets super nervous or jumpy when ridden away from home or a herd mate, take them back to where they feel safe, work with them there and then gradually bring them out again.) they have to know that you are there for them when they are afraid or uncertain and that you can handle the situation.
    Horses usually become uneasy when they are taken out of their environment or away from a herd member because they do not see their handler as a trustworthy leader and therefor feel that they have to be on edge to handle the situation themselves.

    So often, it is a person's instinct when working with horses to never give them what they want. They are only allowed to do what you tell them when you tell them to. But that is not a partnership, that is just a one-sided dictatorship and eventually many horses will revolt against it and end up injuring themselves or their handlers.

    Now, that is not to say that you should not correct the horse when he needs correcting, but one must be able to discern when a horse is truly testing their authority or just wholly unconfident with the situation they have been put into and afraid.
         
        02-12-2013, 05:48 PM
      #13
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aldebono    
    I think babies can throw a monkey wrench in the herd dynamics when it is a small group.
    I saw a 3/4 month old pinning ears and kicking its mother while I was at the barn this week.
    I was so worried about my first baby when he was young because he was like that. He was pushing his mom around by the time he was 2 months old. The other horses who were pastured with him would just tolerate his shenanigans without ever reprimanding him for disrespectful behavior. I definitely noticed a difference in how he behaved toward me as well. I was fighting to keep his respect and it wasn't clear who was winning.

    So, I put my Mustang in the pen with him and the rest of them. The first thing little 2 month old Rafe did was to run up to Dobe, arch his neck, and squeal. Dobe, being a very strong alpha personality, pinned his ears and gave his "you better back off" stink face. When Rafe continued to squeal and paw, Dobe charged him and took him completely down to the ground and just held him there for a minute. It didn't hurt him, but it certainly was a very powerful wake-up call. After Dobe let him up, they both just walked off together as if nothing had happened.

    Immediately, Rafe started showing more respect to Dobe and the rest of the herd. Just as suddenly, my battle for respect with him was over. He's been nothing but a big sweetie since then. Thankfully, since he's standing 16.1 and weighs about 1400 now.

    A herd tends to be much more stable and mellow when there is a strong herd alpha (not a bully, just a strong alpha). When there is nothing but a bunch of lower level horses out there, I've noticed that they tend to bicker more because they are constantly trying to figure out who should be the alpha and sometimes it seems almost like none of them really want it.

    Too many people read too much cruelty into the behaviors of a strong alpha. A good alpha will be the boss of the herd, they will warn and sometimes punish the other horses when they don't obey or if they start thinking above themselves and get snippy.

    Just like this. This filly is new and completely feral, so I put Dobe in with her to teach her the mannerisms of a broke horse. They had been in the pen together for several minutes with him herding her around (not being pushy, just urging her to go where he wanted her to go). Once, he went to turn her and move her away from the stud that was 2 pens over. She started to pin her ears and give her own stink face. This was the result. He didn't hurt her, he didn't even have to touch her. Just the warning was enough. If she hadn't obeyed the warning, then he would have been more assertive and probably nipped her.


    That's the same reason why so many people have trouble with getting respect from their horses. People want to pet the horse and give it treats and think that will make the horse "love" them. Those same people are the ones who think it cruel to kick a horse if it kicks you, to pop them on the nose if they go to bite, to use the rope or the whip to enforce your personal space bubble.

    Those people only see cruelty or love, there is no in between. The problem with seeing horses like that is that horses simply aren't that black and white. There are about a billion different shades of gray between the 2 extremes... and each horse is a different shade.

    Most horses want someone else to be the alpha. Even Dobe, as strong of an alpha personality as he is, is still below me in the pecking order...and he loves it that way. Once I got him over his initial charging behavior that previous owners taught him (he would charge them to chase them out of his pen, we had a come to Jesus meeting and fixed that), he has never pinned an ear at me, never offered to kick or nip, he will follow me wherever I want him to go regardless of how "scary" he thinks it is.

    Having a good relationship with your horse doesn't mean getting them to "love" you. The best that any person can hope for from a horse is respect. With respect comes trust and loyalty. Not the loyalty that comes from love, but the loyalty that comes from them respecting and trusting their herd alpha (you) to do what is best for them.

    People would see the relationship between me and Dobe, or Rafe, or Taz, or Denny, or any of the rest of mine and they might think "Wow, those horses really love her". They don't, they respect and trust me. That's what makes for a great relationship.


    *steps down off my ranty and slightly off topic soap box*
         
        02-12-2013, 06:05 PM
      #14
    Banned
    Smrobs - good post!
    smrobs likes this.
         
        02-12-2013, 07:14 PM
      #15
    Green Broke
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BBBCrone    
    smrobs - good post!
    Ditto that.

    How fortunate you are to have a horse like Dobe and how fortunate Dobe is to have a human who recognizes his wisdome

    Point made much more clear than my feeble attempt

    And it goes right back to the suspicions that my third in order bully horse, who is 16.1H, is probably the way he is because his mother didn't beat his hind end when it needed it

    My strong alpha dominant horse is a fair and intelligent leader. It is awesome to watch him gather the other three during a daytime storm. As I said before, he is now afraid of night storms, so I have to take the lead and get everyone into the barn before the crashing lightening is directly upon us.

    I know the direction of the storm long before it gets here because of where he gathers everyone. And Pity The Fool that won't gather when he gives the order because he will go after that one and push that horse into the Safe Circle and that would be the handsome fella in my avatar
    smrobs likes this.
         
        02-12-2013, 07:23 PM
      #16
    Green Broke
    Just what smrobs said: horses do not feel love the same way people do and sadly, many people mistake begging for love when it comes to horses (this does not necessarily mean begging for food, either, but attention as well and guidance. Horses often see people as a source of something good, which is never a bad thing, but they don't come running because they are desperate to be in that individual's company. They want what we can offer them and that is safetly, confidence, play as well as food).
    My arab mare whinnies to me every time she sees me outside, but I never think "oh, she loves me so much!"
    I know **** well that she just wants me to bring her something lol and if she sees me coming without food or with a halter, she closes her yap and wanders off ever-so-nonchalantly
         
        02-12-2013, 08:54 PM
      #17
    Super Moderator
    I do think that some horses can treat certain people in their lives like a sort of 'security blanket' - much in the same way as these types will get dependant on one particular horse. They can appear really cool and confident with that person but fall apart with another rider or handler
    My oldest mare was hand reared by the idiots who bred her and never saw another horse till she was 3 when I bought her - she's been with other horses for 18 years now but still tends to prefer humans and can take or leave other horses - she's quite often way apart from the others. Our newest mare is similar though she enjoys horse company she will choose to leave the others if one of us goes in the field and follows humans around like a dog - she recently stood so close to my husband when he was chain sawing some fallen branches in the field that she had to be removed for her own safety
         
        02-12-2013, 09:21 PM
      #18
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by smrobs    
    Too many people read too much cruelty into the behaviors of a strong alpha. A good alpha will be the boss of the herd, they will warn and sometimes punish the other horses when they don't obey or if they start thinking above themselves and get snippy.

    After that punishment/correction, the alpha will go back to life like normal, as it was before the punishment.

    Just like this. This filly is new and completely feral, so I put Dobe in with her to teach her the mannerisms of a broke horse. They had been in the pen together for several minutes with him herding her around (not being pushy, just urging her to go where he wanted her to go). Once, he went to turn her and move her away from the stud that was 2 pens over. She started to pin her ears and give her own stink face. This was the result. He didn't hurt her, he didn't even have to touch her. Just the warning was enough. If she hadn't obeyed the warning, then he would have been more assertive and probably nipped her.


    Then immediately after that, Dobe walked off and she followed closely behind. Both calm and relaxed, filly wasn't afraid of him whenever he would move or turn toward her, and he was very nonchalant about her walking up and sticking her nose right up under his tail.



    Okay, just re-reading and realized that I missed some of my thoughts....

    What I wanted to add above is in blue.



    What so many people have trouble with is balancing that punishment and reward treatment. A good horseman will correct the bad behavior and reward the good behavior. A correction may be something as small as a sharp work and a dirty look or as large as a come to Jesus meeting where the horse is in fear for it's life for 10-15 seconds. A reward may be something as small as being allowed to stand still at the end of a rope for a few seconds or something as large as being completely left alone for the rest of the day.

    If a training regimen consists of too much punishment or too much reward, then the horse will be unhappy...and the human will be too because they aren't getting the results they want.

    That's what makes a good herd alpha, the ability to balance the bossy role and the support role and to vary it depending on which member of the herd they are dealing with. The same things that make a good herd alpha are the same things that make a good horseman.
         
        02-12-2013, 10:20 PM
      #19
    Weanling
    Years ago I got to watch as all the horses left the barn and dry paddock to go out to the fields after being fed. Boss mare somehow was last to finish eating and when she did, she high tailed it out of the barn/paddock, rounded up the other 3 and drove them back into the dry paddock. She stood at the gate for a few seconds then nonchalantly turned and walked into the pasture to graze. The others took their time and then moseyed out.

    At the sign of the smallest sprinkle of rain, she would take the other horses to the barn and wait it out.

    When she wanted water, she walked up and everyone moved away. When she wanted space, she would back up and they would scatter.
    No drama. She was a great leader.

    On the other hand, I boarded my mare with another young mare, an old gelding, and two younger geldings. The two younger geldings (owned by the same girl), jockeyed for Leader position daily, creating drama and generally being jerks. Definitely jerks, not leaders.
         
        02-13-2013, 12:59 AM
      #20
    Started
    I'm glad y'all jumped on this. I'm terrible at typing and even sayin what I think. More of a hands on I suppose. I really hope the info is put to good use
    Posted via Mobile Device
         

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