6/25/2010 - Day 8
Monty got beat up.
Not bad or anything, a few chunks of hair missing and a minor scrape on his shoulder and one on his rump.
I introduced him to the others yesterday. He's been in the barn with Misty, and she's still flapping her tail and peeing so she stayed inside. (Finn has suddenly realized he's a MAN now so I'm taking every precaution). I took him out on lead and was armed with the dressage whip, though my horses are all very laid back so I didn't expect much fuss. I DIDN'T expect Monty to be such a darn little instigator!
Initial meeting went fine. Everyone came over for a good sniff, a few squeals and posturing and everyone moved off to graze again. All seemed fine so after a while of letting Monty graze on lead, I let him off and stayed to supervise. The first several hours everything was perfectly fine. Monty and Finn played a bit, and he was largely ignored by Freyja and Fiona and Claymore. But then Monty got over-confident, and started picking on Claymore. He's run up to Claymore, squeal and front strike, and run away again. Claymore was just grazing and minding his own business, but after about the third time Monty did this, Claymore got mad and gave chase. It didn't escalate into anything serious, and Claymore chomped Monty in the rump a few times and chased him off, then would just go back to grazing.
This happened a few more times, I would break it up if it seemed to be getting too rough but it was surprising for me. Claymore was a stallion until he was six, but while breeding was always pastured with mares, and he has been gelded for over a year now, and never acts particularly studdy, never did. Finn actually ISN'T gelded yet, and just this week started showing some typical stud behavior, but he and Monty were just fine. Monty was acting EXTREMELY studdish, arching his neck, posturing, and then charging up to Claymore, rearing and front striking (it was amusing really, total David and Goliath scenario). According to the previous owner, Monty had just been gelded when they got him, and had a severe infection from the surgery which they treated for a further month - I would assume if gelding had been incorrect or incomplete the vet would have told them so at that time. They had Monty for about 7 months until I got him last week, so I would have thought most the hormones would be gone by now, but obviously some of the behavior isn't. Monty was not bothering the girls at all, he kept having a go at Claymore, wouldn't give up.
I guess Claymore would be the dominant male horse in the pasture, but he's not overly so, the most dominant horse I have is Freyja (and Fiona by extension), both of whom Monty completely ignored (and was ignored in return). I don't know why Monty choose to keep picking on Claymore. He was always the one instigating, Claymore would only go on the defensive and drive Monty away when he got annoyed. I'm a believer, generally, in letting horses sort out status issues among themselves and stepping in only if things get out of hand. After letting them mess around for about 4 hours, I put Monty back up. I guess for now I'll just keep putting him out for a limited amount of time each day, and keep it supervised, step in when I need to. I just find it weird that he is choosing to pick on Claymore.
Freyja, Finn, and Claymore are my core group. They trailered to me together from North Dakota and, while Freyja and Finn were pastured separately from Claymore out there, I turned all three out together here from day one with no issue. When Misty joined the group several months later, she spent a few days in my backyard meeting them over the fence (she was in heat when she arrived) and while she has always been "low man" on the totem pole, there has never been an issue with her either - of course she is a mare. Fiona being born into the group, and out of the lead mare, granted her automatic immunity and status, right now she is still young enough that she has the total tolerance permitted to babies. I think if Monty was calm and relaxed he would readily be accepted into the group, but he seems to want to challenge Claymore for status - it will be interesting to see where this leads. I find herd dynamics fascinating.