Is herd change a good idea? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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Is herd change a good idea?

I recently purchased Nick, a 5 1/2 year old gelding. He is a big, strong, athletic horse who is clearly the alpha horse in his small herd. He has always been pastured with his mother and a 3 year old sister. Recently, another young mare was added. Although broke, Nick has not been ridden much for almost 3 years. I am having some difficulty in establishing my dominance in our relationship. He can be quite disrespectful at times. He tends to bite and does not respect my personal space. I have been very firm with him on these issues, but I have not seen as much progress as I would have liked. At the farm where I board Nick, there is another pasture with two mares and two geldings. I wonder if it might do Nick some good to move him to that other pasture where I suspect he would not be the dominant horse. In fact, he might be one or two from the bottom with this other herd. I am wondering if this change might allow him to accept my dominance more readily than he seems to be willing to do at the present. Any thoughts on this idea?
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 03:51 AM
Green Broke
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Just like people, some horses are meant for the "leadership" role while others arent. No matter who they are with, they are looked to as the leaders. Of course sometimes they will let someone else be the lead, but it is normally hard for them to do that. You could try changing up who your horse is with, but there is a possibility that he could be the alpha horse in this group as well.

I am not sure if him being the alpha horse or not in his group has much to do with him being disrespectful to you though, but that isn't something I am really knowledgeable on, so hopefully someone else might have an idea on it. My *guess* would be that his ground training is lacking from before and he just needs a refresher to learn space.

It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows. --Epictetus
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 03:55 AM
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I agree, moving pastures isn't going to help you a whole lot even if at all. Can you lead him well right now?? If not just start with that. If he invades your space turn around and make him back up quickly. Then continue to walk.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 04:09 AM Thread Starter
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Yes I can lead him without any problems. I appreciate the feedback. I certainly don't want to switch him to another pasture if it is not likely to have any significant impact on his relationship with me. As you know, switching herds will cause disruption to all of the horses for a period of time and there is always a risk of injury.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 04:27 AM
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So what are you trying to accomplish? Just need to know so we can give good solid advice as what type of work you can do to reach your goals.
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 06:59 AM
Green Broke
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I think she wants to establish her relationship with her horse. If you are firm with him and you see no real change, you aren't being firm enough. A dominant horse will show his/her dominance in a herd at the cost of injury. When you put two dominant horses together, what happens? One will eventually back down. Whether it takes 15 min or a few days. You have to take away his dominance away. At least to you. Its possible. Can be hard, and you might feel like your being to harsh but again look at the way horses are in a group.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-06-2010, 07:04 AM
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Changing pastures won't help YOUR relationships with him. Unless you'll live in same pasture and behave as alpha mare.

Just be consistent with him in what you do. If you don't have much experience dealing with such horse (and no offense, but it sounds like it) get a help - trainer, who will point out what's done incorrectly and how to position yourself. It's really hard to tell or advice anything when there is no info provided.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-07-2010, 04:34 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all for great advice!
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