Can horses mimic each others behaviour? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 01:43 AM Thread Starter
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Question Can horses mimic each others behaviour?

Hey everyone,
I was just wondering, do horses mimic each others behaviour?
I'm moving my 2 horses to my own property, and they will be together in a paddock. They have been in a paddock together before, and that resulted into my 9 year old mare copying my 6 year old gelding biting the fence (not actually crib-biting, but just nibbling the fence). And now they will be together full time, so i was just wondering if my mare will start to copy my geldings behaviour? I really don't want that to happen, because my gelding is very spooky, he spooks at everything and he is very naughty, he is un-educated and I can't ride him.
So that's why I was wondering if my perfectly natured mare may turn into my young evil gelding by being in the same paddock together?
Please, no rude comments, i'm just asking a question...

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post #2 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 03:11 AM
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I have heard differing arguments regarding cribbing/windsucking, some people say it cant be learned from horses watching other horses doing it and some say it can. In my experience I have never seen horses that dont crib picking up the habit from being paddocked with horses that do. You could run a hot tape along the top of the fence or buy a solution that tastes nasty that discourages them from chewing on the wood. If your mare is well behaved then I see no reason for her to learn any bad habits, it may help your gelding to be in with a more mature, settled horse. If she is not easily spooked then he should eventually calm down and start ignoring those things too. Doing some ground work with him might help too. With spooky horses I like to set up confidence courses, tie things to the fences that flap and put strange things around on the ground. Then lead the horse around and ignore any spooking until eventually they realise these things arent going to attack them.
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post #3 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 05:26 AM
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I believe it can. I have seen horses that were stalled near swayers start to sway. And I have heard that cribbing could be another learned habit from horse to horse. But, I had a cribber for 27 yrs and she never taught another horse to crib. Although, I did keep a Miracle Collar on her.

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post #4 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 05:54 AM
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Monkey see, monkey do. Yes horses mimic each others' behaviour & it's usually the bad behaviours! Never had a cribber, so I hope that's not something they copy for your sake. I had one horse that was a notorious flower muncher when let out in the yard for a treat, he went straight for my petunias, the other horses never bothered thenm until HE showed them. Every flower I planted was dessimated to nubs.
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post #5 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 06:05 AM
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I think with actuall winsucking the behaviour is picked up by new horses because they get stressed too and winducking releases happy hormones to reduce stress. At lest, thats my theory about copiers! Horses usually pick up vices for a reason and if the same reason is presented to another horse, chances are they'll do the same technique to cope.

If your worried about the wood eating, try putting a mineral lick in the field as some horses eat wood due to deficiencies. It helped Pip to stop when he had a suplement in his diet.

And i think its more likely the gelding will learn good behaivouir from the mare because she is older, and generally mares get grumpy with other horses going nuts around them! Horses are naturally lazy so hel learn being quiet=less energy expenditure!!

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post #6 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 07:37 PM
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I think my white paint horse is copying the grey horse on getting really dirty in the field. :P When my horse was in the other field...he was never "that dirty" but since he moved to the other field with the grey horse...hes been really dirty. So i think hes been copying that horse. :P
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post #7 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 07:50 PM
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Right now I'm relying on my filly's baby bro to show her I'm not going to inflct harm. So far it's been successful, and I plan to use my lovey-dovery gelding to teach that to her even more. It all depends on the horse and how carefuly they observe each other. Typically, if one horse spooks and his pasturemates stare at him like he's silly, they calm down.

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post #8 of 9 Old 06-09-2012, 09:19 PM
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I think that they can and will learn from each other and not always good habits.
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post #9 of 9 Old 06-11-2012, 08:58 AM
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I know of several barns that will not accept horses that crib or weave because other horses can learn it.

So Id say yes they can copy!
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