Influencing the herd order - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 03:36 AM Thread Starter
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Influencing the herd order

I will post this here, because if the anwser is yes, I feel it would be in training. Can we(humans) influence the herd pecking order?Help/encourage to get along better? Any suggestions or even a more appropite spot to post is appreciated. Thanks
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post #2 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 06:22 AM
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From what I understand YOU can influence it, by being the top heard boss. But can you influence the others? no. Horses have a natural pecking order, they have to deal with it themselves. If they're getting too aggressive you can separate them.

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post #3 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 06:46 AM
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You can. But unfortunately for just as long as you are with them. As you leave the field they'll establish it again the way it used to be.
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post #4 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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oK, that brings me to ask two other question s. 1) What is too aggressie of behavior? 2) Who do you sepereate, the agressor or the one being abused? Thanks

Last edited by PADEAN; 04-20-2010 at 08:27 AM.
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post #5 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 08:31 AM
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Normally I let my horses seek their own order but if I have a horse that is too aggressive I'll move him or sell him. Last year I had a paint horse that was a pleasure to ride but was so aggressive with the rest that he would actually take bites out of the hide of the other horses. That was more then I was willing to accept and I sold the horse (fully explaining the problem to the new owners).

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.

Last edited by iridehorses; 04-20-2010 at 08:36 AM.
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post #6 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by PADEAN View Post
oK, that brings me to ask two other question s. 1) What is too aggressive of behavior? 2) Who do you separate, the agressor or the one being abused? Thanks
My once in a lifetime was horribly aggressive to other horses. He adored people, but hated pretty much any other horse that walked the planet. He was completely controllable under saddle and in hand, but in a herd situation he was beyond nasty.

When he went after another horse, it was all out war. He fully intended to maim, if not outright kill, whoever happened to be his target.

He was the one who was kept separated, because it wasn't the other animals' fault that he was so evil. Why penalize the horses who get along with each other? It's the aggressive one who needs to be kept out of the herd dynamic.

He did mellow somewhat with age and I was able to turn him out with my other 2 in the last 3 years of his life, but he was definitely the herd alpha, and brooked no arguments to his ironclad despotism.

There's a reason I called him my little bay demon in horse form!
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post #7 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 10:06 AM
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I'd call the horse too aggressive if 1) it goes after other horses all the time, and I mean bite or kick, not just pinning ears back, 2) other horses have bite/kick marks. If that happen the aggressor should be gone from the field IMO.
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post #8 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 11:34 AM
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Soda's aggression has calmed down a bit. Poor Flame no longer has bite marks all over. He's only bit her 2x in the last 6 mnths that have left actual marks. And he doesn't violently move her away from food although he does "gaurd" the barn. Compared to his behavior 1.5 yrs ago when he was putting big ass holes all over other horses it is an improvement.

I'm not sure what will happen when I put Flame down. Do I get another horse and subject it to Soda's aggression until he calms down and then still deal with some occaisional bit marks? Or do I keep Soda alone? I'm not terribly excited about either option.
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post #9 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 11:56 AM
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It really depends on the horse and the herd. I have helped a timid horse move up in the herd through interaction with the whole herd. I had a bucket of treats, a whip and an imaginary circle. Only that horse was allowed in the circle. Once he realized that I would protect him and only he was getting treats then he started to get a little bolder and actually started to patrol the "line". After I left he continued to patrol his little corner and the other horses stayed out of it. After that they had more respect for him and he started integrating and playing with the herd and eventually was in the top 1/2 of the pecking order in a 10 horse herd.

If the horse is aggressive then that is a different story. There are a bunch of questions here the aggressive horse getting enough attention and exercise? Many herd bosses will turn on other horses if they are bored and not getting the attention and exercise they need. Another cause for aggression is lack of space or forage. You will see much more aggression in a 2 acre dry lot than a 10 acre lush pasture. Also, sometimes they will go after the horses that they feel are getting more attention in a bid for attention themselves. If you were asking because of a certain situation and not just out of curiosity please tell us more info about the behavior, the situation, the facilities, etc and we may be able to help.
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post #10 of 14 Old 04-20-2010, 11:59 AM
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Hmmm.... Maybe I should start my own thread and get some ideas :)
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