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livelovelaughride 05-09-2013 01:14 AM

Alone in the field observations
I left my horse grazing by himself in the big field adjacent to the barns. He couldn't see any other horses at the time. I could hear him calling within a minute of my leaving (to get some water and snack). When I returned (another 2 minutes later) he was calling and behaving anxiously around the gate, then running little circles. The other horses in the far barns kept calling back.

I entered the field, he remained anxious and ignored my presence. It wasn't until I clipped his lead rope to his halter and walked around with him for another couple minutes that he resumed his normal quiet manner of grazing.

I understand our bond and that he is primarily a horse first. But given how quickly horses respond to perceived events danger? No. Off. (as in, back to normal relaxed). Or...danger?! Maybe! No? Ok. Off again. Seconds later. I just thought my gelding would return to his 'normal' quiet self sooner.

In fact, it seems to be that he is calmer while on lead in the field (hand grazing) than loose, by himself. Especially if no other horse is around. Its interesting!

Saddlebag 05-10-2013 04:55 PM

Your horse was seeking the security of other horses. A lone horse is afraid it will become dinner. He seems to find some security when you're around but you left him alone and he was a bit frantic to not be left alone.

toto 05-10-2013 05:06 PM

It all just depends on the horse. Ive owned a few that prefered to be by themselves and a few that were real 'needy'

What i noticed is- the 'needier' horses are always the lower horses on the peckin order and they need to have the security of another being.

the alpha horse does tend to be more spooky at things in the pasture but less afraid of being left alone-- they know theyre top dog.

Notice when you take the low man away from his pasture mates how it goes nuts and the alpha does not?

Just some food for thought.. anddddd *random informationnn* :lol:

livelovelaughride 05-11-2013 12:46 AM

Perfect Gentleman or Submissive?
In regards to the pecking order, our barn doesn't put the horses out as a herd. They are grazed in pairs of same sex but there are three big fields. I don't know where my horse would be in the pecking order. I do know that he has amazing manners though. How do you tell a horse that is submissive from a horse that has great manners and is not pushy? (Human handling, not horse to horse).

Saddlebag 05-11-2013 09:00 AM

A horse with good manners is being submissive to the human because cooperation is what makes the herd work.

TerciopeladoCaballo 05-11-2013 10:00 AM

My mare's different. Animal dominance and social hierarchy interests me, so I've watch her for a long time; she doesn't have any buddy horse on property but plenty of horse neighbors in sight and in earshot, she doesn't seem fond of the pig I paired with her.

She is a calm bum to begin with, though not a dead head--- she has an explosion once a year (something like running into the gate, rearing, by herself), and ordinarily doesn't fuss unless it's estrus time in which case she decides to ignore recall sometimes. Not the kind of horse that would spook and bolt, she can be surprised, but rarely spooks, when she does she shies away/gives a half-step/quickens briefly. Fireworks are nothing to her, she was already police-trained and doesn't care for a gunshot yet expects some treats when one goes off. However, she does get upset when the neighbor horses do. For the 4th of July, I have to work her out substantially in the morning and make sure everything is secure; she usually spends her time pacing by the pasture gate in her paddock and might answer any frantic neighs from the neighbors. She's alert and paying sharp attention, nothing more.

So when I put her out in pasture, I like to watch when the neighbor's horses are close to the fence. Usually, she gravitates to one set of paddocks by the fence because this group of horses has little change in its herd and they usually stay in their stall/paddock combos except for turn-out for a few hours a day. That's her adopted herd, sometimes in high spirits she will gallop out to them, slide-stop into the corner, wait for a moment as they trot out to greet, and then she grazes by that fenceline, drifting away toward the far end over the course of an hour. She demands to be the queen, silently. Another herd of horses is let out by the fenceline from a lesson/training stable that constantly changes members, so usually I don't see her interested in these horses if her adopted herd is available. The standard is that when these horses are out, she might prance up to the fence in a showy manner if it is a big herd or a mare is there, or take her time walking up, then she waits for them to come to her. They usually come running. She sniffs noses, squeals and stomps, then walks off to the farthest end of the pasture and grazes, always with an eye on that herd. If they spook and run, she turns toward them and signals with her tail, or might neigh, and return to grazing. She has every herd wrapped around her hoof, and it's interesting to see how she could do that with so little work. It's all presence. When I take her out of the pasture, the boarder herd goes crazy and they run around frantically neighing. She neighs back once or twice, as if to say, "QUIET! I'm right here!" then really doesn't give much a care for them.

It's a spectacle to see the boarders try to catch their horses when my mare is out near them, because they REFUSE to leave her. They have to get several people out to corner the horses or ride up with another horse to lead them out.
My mare usually comes on command, but lately with the new mare in her favorite herd, she see me and goes to them, looks, and then comes to me. Just making sure her lot is okay and reassuring them before leaving, I think.

livelovelaughride 05-16-2013 01:30 AM

What toto said..."What I noticed is- the 'needier' horses are always the lower horses on the peckin order and they need to have the security of another being.

The alpha horse does tend to be more spooky at things in the pasture but less afraid of being left alone-- they know theyre top dog.

My horse won't wander and graze by himself if we are alone in the field even if there is another horse in sight but not in the same pasture. I repeated clipped him up and he would graze happily (or so I thought) and then I would quietly unclip him and stay near. He would notice this and make his way to the gate where he would call and bump the gate. Then I would clip him up again and walk out towards the grass and repeat.

The other day while he was still engrossed in eating and was by himself in the field (with me inside the pasture), a friend called out to me and we met near the gate to chat. My horse didn't notice for a short time, but soon we heard a surprised snort and then hurried footsteps. He was worried I was going out of the field and wanted to catch up. This is endearing but a hard way to get him up to 1 1/2 hours of grazing time before we do longer turn out. He needs a grazing buddy!

I wondered then if I have a needier horse and also what his order might be on the pecking scale. I liked hearing the other stories about the mare with presence and her adopted herd. Cool observations.

TerciopeladoCaballo 05-16-2013 12:08 PM

I think the alpha could be more curious than the subordinates, or at least makes the first move; neighbors and visitors have told me stories about how they are surprised to find my mare investigate them, the funniest would be how a gardener was using a noisy weedwacker to trim around the fenceline, and he suddenly found my mare's head over his shoulder, stretching over the fence to sniff and check him out, regardless of the sharp noise and sudden movements.

I had a field observation of a herd of mini donkeys, where I slowly edged near to them. They were kept in a very large, open field and were flighty. Eventually, while I sat on the grass waiting, a jenny (girl donkey) walked up and smudged her nose over me, staying within an arm's reach. She would stand over me, and move between me and any approaching herd members, biting a couple of youngsters who were too bold by walking up to me. Perhaps it's claiming, or dominating. I later showed a photo I took of the jenny to the owner, who told me without a doubt that she was the boss. The jenny's hostility was aimed at the other donkeys, she would only touch me by moving or standing close, allowing me to touch her, also allowing me to stand and move without a hassle. She wouldn't ear-pin or snap toward me, just toward the donkeys. The donkeys weren't interacted with much, so I don't think she thought I was a source of food. I have the feeling that she was more like controlling her environment.

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