herd order? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 12:20 PM Thread Starter
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Question herd order?

I have two horses Flicka and Midnight. Flicka is a mare and Midnight is a gelding. Ever since I was given midnight (9 years ago) he has always been the "alpha" so to speak. During feeding time he would pin his ears if another horse got ahead of him and really just anytime he was always the bossy type horse (when out in the pasture, not when riding or handling). He is getting older now, he's about mid twenties according to the vet, and it seems like he has backed down from his positon and Flicka is now the bossy one. She bosses him around and if she even pins her ears he backs off big time.
I guess my question is, is it normal for horses to switch their herd orders? Is it since he is getting old that he is backing down?
I'm just kind of curious as to what is causing the sudden change.
Thanks

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post #2 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 12:35 PM
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I don't know if its the norm, but my gelding does the same. He used to be bossy, but now(20 yrs) he doesn't care to be pestered by the youngins and will usually give in. Now he still doesnt take any crap, but he doesnt persist as hard as he used to.
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post #3 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by OutOfTheLoop View Post
I don't know if its the norm, but my gelding does the same. He used to be bossy, but now(20 yrs) he doesn't care to be pestered by the youngins and will usually give in. Now he still doesnt take any crap, but he doesnt persist as hard as he used to.
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That's pretty much what is happening here except my gelding will let her boss him around and really doesn't stand up for himself at all anymore. It's definitley out of the norm for him.

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post #4 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 01:41 PM
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It's the normal order of things. The older horse will eventually give way to a younger herd boss.

My 27 y/o has been the herd boss since 2007 when my beloved heart horse had to be put down. He was second in command to Conny until then. Now that he's getting up there and slowing down tremendously, my young TB is starting to vie for the head spot.

Completely normal, although it can be kind of sad to watch.

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post #5 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 01:56 PM
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It happened with the pony I used to ride at the riding school too. He was never the bossy type, but not many horses bothered him and if they did, he showed them what he thought of it. When they waited at the gate for feeding time, he was usually one of the closest (if not the closest) to the gate. Now that he's older (late 20s), he hangs back and waits until almost last. He also prefers to move away from a horse looking for trouble, rather than risk confrontation. Seems similar to yours.
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Speed Racer View Post
It's the normal order of things. The older horse will eventually give way to a younger herd boss.

My 27 y/o has been the herd boss since 2007 when my beloved heart horse had to be put down. He was second in command to Conny until then. Now that he's getting up there and slowing down tremendously, my young TB is starting to vie for the head spot.

Completely normal, although it can be kind of sad to watch.
<sigh> ^^^this

Last year my vet asked me if my Alpha was starting to turn over some of the herd duties to Horse #3. Astounded at how he picked up on that, when they were all in their stalls, I said that he was.

The Alpha Guy is 25-1/2, has metabolic issues and hock/ankle arthritis. While he is still the boss and everyone respects/listens to him, he is allowing #3 horse to have more and more leadership. Unless there's an impending storm then everyone had better listen to #1.

The #2 horse is what is called a Passive Leader; he just turned 27 and never has had the desire to lead the herd. His mission has always been to be a good listener and offer comfort when needed. He is my best nurses aid when I have a horse in the sick bay yard.

It is, indeed, sad to watch the shift of power. Especially when the Alpha Guy has been my heart horse for 22+ years. He is the handsome fella in my avatar, when he was 16

The Fella in my sig is my 27 yr old Arab who is the Passive Leader; he was 23 when that picture was taken:)
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Racer View Post
It's the normal order of things. The older horse will eventually give way to a younger herd boss.

My 27 y/o has been the herd boss since 2007 when my beloved heart horse had to be put down. He was second in command to Conny until then. Now that he's getting up there and slowing down tremendously, my young TB is starting to vie for the head spot.

Completely normal, although it can be kind of sad to watch.
Ok I am glad to know it is normal at least. It really is sad considering he is my heart horse. That's life though.

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post #8 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 02:22 PM
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Its just the natural cycle of life. It happens with all animals. Doesn't mean its easy to acknowledge and accept, but thats just how things work.
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-13-2013, 07:20 PM
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This is completely normal herd behavior.
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-14-2013, 09:53 AM
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My 38 yr old is still very much in charge. Bless her fat little heart.
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