It's finished!!! Finally today the last data was recorded and now I can confess to my interests and motivation behind posting on this forum.
I am currently writing up the results of what I hope and believe will be the largest study of it's kind into the structure and decision making hierarchy amongst domesticated, captive herds.
The study has been entirely privately funded and as such is entirely objective. It has taken just short of three years to this point, with the last test and observations recorded today. I anticipate it will take me in the region of 6 months to assimilate and prepare for publication to the community.
It has involved 37 herds of at least 11 horses or greater per 'herd'. The study includes observational questionnaires with all the horse owners, as to who is the alpha etc. Tests include choice of movement, choice of lead/follow when endangered, control over food sources, and instigation of movement/investigation into new fields. Due to movement of horses and owners, 8 of the herds data will be ma available but removed from the study.
The study has been a massive undertaking, and I need to thank everyone who has been involved and helped. Without that support it would not have been possible. You all know who you are if you are reading this, but credit will be given at publication.
Now I am looking for ideas for my next study. So I would invite any suggestions. At the moment I am considering something directly comparing positive vs negative reinforcement methods but the design and parameters have not been considered yet.
With the pool of experience and knowledge here I look forward to some great ideas.