Pecking order changes? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 09-11-2013, 01:59 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Alabama
Posts: 101
• Horses: 3
Pecking order changes?

Here is the pecking order for as long as we have had these four together.
1. Old TWH gelding 26yrs, top dog
2. QH mare, 13yrs,
3. QH mare, 14yrs,
4. Paint mare, 19yrs (last)

These four have all been together for over 3yrs., on the same property since we brought home the #2 mare above. As a matter of fact our paint mare is the sweetest horse we have, most docile, just exceptional disposition.
Last week, while putting # 1 & 2 mares back in pasture after riding, our paint is waiting at the gate as we are putting them up and I slip off the bridle as always and Skip saunters into the pasture. Immediately, the paint gets all up in her business as if she is challenging her. She has NEVER done this.
Another day a gate was opened to allow access to the interior pasture. (they have to go to a back gate (maybe 200 yds) and come back up front to be fed.
When Skip (normally the #2 mare) started to the back gate, our Paint mare, Scooter cut her off. Skip stopped, then started again and Scooter backed up and threatened to kick. I as amazed!!
Scooter, the paint, has always been the horse with the scraps, or bite marks and always the low girl on the ladder. Since we have only had horses about seven years, I have never seen this. Has my baby gotten tired of being the outcast? Can someone give me some insight on this behavior?

I imagine if you brought a new horse into the group there would be a change of hierarchy, but not in an established group.
I want to think she just got fed up with being the lowest one.
Le007 is offline  
post #2 of 5 Old 09-11-2013, 02:31 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 346
• Horses: 7
I have a pretty decent size herd and have noticed some hierarchy changes over the years. Here is the order for mine:

1. Pistol: 18yr old mare.
2. Drake: 10 year old Gelding
3. Remie: 8 year old mare.
4. Remington: 8 year old gelding
5. Lady: 10 year old mare
6. Beauty: 16 year old gelding
7. Pair of mini mares
8. Cherokee: 30 year old gelding

Pistol doesnt take nothing from no body and has been the top dog for a good 12+ years, however she is not a leader... she would rather follow someone else. Now Remie the #3 mare has been slowly taking over as alpha mare, she is more of a leader, she goes her own way despite what others are doing. Drake the alpha male still will hang out with pistol but he is now more into following remie... recognizing her as more as the alpha mare than pistol. However pistol will still put remie in her place once in a while. The only reason why remie is not the top mare is cuz when push comes to shove pistol can and will get very aggressive to anybody who tries to mess with her. So maybe your mare scooter is a gentler version of pistol but lower on the heiarchy? Will put up with others crap but will put others in their place when she feels she can?

Herd Dynamics change and a horse's personality can change with time too. Like you said maybe your mare just got tired of being bossed around. Maybe she feels more dominate than the other mare and she finally wants to prove it. If that other mare backed down then chances are thats the case. I wouldnt worry about it but good for the ole girl Scooter :) Wont have to worry much about her losing weight due to not being able to fend for herself at feed time :)
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post #3 of 5 Old 09-11-2013, 02:19 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Missouri
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As horses changed in physical condition, i.e. arthritis, not feeling as good, not moving as fast? The order can change.

The top position is only held as long as the others don't challenge for it, and win.
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Palomine is offline  
post #4 of 5 Old 09-11-2013, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Hour and a Half from Town!
Posts: 6,386
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It can stay the same or change.

Boss around here was my mare. She'd even try and run them into the fence and did run my gelding into a tree, outside of the fence, and he cut his head.
Then the geldings got sick of it and ganged up on her a year later.
Then one decided he was boss hog and now runs the "herd".
But he also decided to "claim" my mare and the other gelding is now on the bottom.
All this transpired in three years!

I love herd dynamics.

You can get a lot further with a ladder than you can with crutches!!
What do you mean what do I mean?
FlyGap is offline  
post #5 of 5 Old 09-11-2013, 02:37 PM
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 719
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I agree with Palomine.
This just happened to me recently as well. I have a older gelding (about 26/27ish) and he was always at the top of the pecking order. Then one day I noticed Flicka (my 6 year old mare) being bossy to him and he was letting her. Now she's the top.

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