So, you think you're in charge? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 03-23-2013, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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So, you think you're in charge?

I had always thought that I enjoyed a good working relationship with my mare. I bought her as a yearling, trained her myself and in over 20 years of pleasure rides and bringing in the cows, we rarely ever had a difference of opinion. She always did what I asked of her in any scenario. I called her my "miniature police horse", nothing fazed her! I felt secure in my role as "Alpha".

Four years ago, I purchased a Gypsy Cob yearling, completely unhandled, a biting, kicking spitfire of a colt. Once gelded, I turned him out with my mare and, boy, did she teach him some manners, and fast! It made my job a whole lot easier, and all progressed well, apart from one small quirk. When picking out his hooves he would allow me to do 3 out of 4 feet without objection, but on asking for the 4th he would dance about, snatching the foot from my grasp (no kicking, just bratty behaviour). It would be at this point that I would feel my mare approach behind me and cast him a "look". Result? Instant submission! Her job done, she would turn away to graze.

Sadly, my lovely girl passed away last June. Actually, I lost my dog, my horse, my beloved Dad, and was made redundant in close succession (goodbye 2012, don't let the door catch you on the a*** as you leave . . .).

I used to be concerned that she was always a little hard on my Cob. Only now do I understand why. After a few weeks of coming to terms with the loss of his companion, my gelding turned into a monster! I was already aware of his "strong" personality, but he had clearly decided that now the herd leader had gone it was time to take up his rightful position. Huh? But I thought I was herd leader?

It was then that I began to wonder if I had ever been in charge of my herd of two. Or had my mare been graciously indulging my fantasy all these years? Bless her heart.

Fast forward a few months, my Cob is back in line (thanks to Clinton Anderson, et al). However, he continues to test me quietly on a daily basis. I cannot give him an inch!

Keeps life interesting, but I shall never simply assume that I'm in charge ever again!
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post #2 of 9 Old 03-23-2013, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Oh MS, that's a rough go.

I know how you feel, when my "old man" passed I had to really crack down on his favorite filly. She was born and raised by his side and learned an incredible amount from him, always level headed and sharp as a tack. Almost instantly she became boss hog in the herd, started shoving me around, completely not herself.

Not sure if you weren't her/his leader, but this kind of loss can cause some "Im on top now behavioral issues".
Is he alone now?
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post #3 of 9 Old 03-23-2013, 05:27 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Boulder, colorado
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Sounds like a normal young horse not to make light of him losing his buddy and such. Tough I delt with something similar in behavior to that this fall. My filly was turned out by herself in a very large lush pasture. Then one very non dominant horse moved in and she bullied her to no end, to the point where she (other mare) would hang out with the llamas instead. Fast forward a couple months, submissive mare is gone, my filly is running the roost of several horses (8-10) and testing their owners who she found out didn't have as much emphasis? I guess is the word, lol. She was fine around me and anyone else around if (so I was told), did everything I asked, never pushed me around and was very respectful. But apparently the other owners would be riding in the field they all shared together and apparently shed go after them teeth and hoofs ready to go like she had an agenda. Which is why I had to leave she ended up kicking a woman and broke her hand while she (the woman) was riding her horse in the pasture (again, the same pasture they all shared, all horses who had pretty much just met no more than a month prior).

My filly knew they were push overs in regards to her behavior and she felt entitled to her pasture since she was there first. Fast forward to the new stables and she's a different horse. She has to be submissive or she'll get the snot kicked out of her by her fellow herd mates. However, more importantly the people are very clear and concise (important) about what they expect from her.

She still will test people, more so if you're new or they're young. Which is why it's important to make sure you never let them take the inch. Which requires little things you often don't notice like, not allowing your horse to make you back up or not moving until you say it's okay to move.

life has no remote control hitch them up and drive them your self

Last edited by Ashleysmardigrasgirl; 03-23-2013 at 05:36 PM.
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post #4 of 9 Old 03-23-2013, 05:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Boulder, colorado
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Bleh hope you can read that. I think my iPad might have chewed that that last post all up.

Good luck to you!

Don't forget to post pictures of your little snotty love bug

life has no remote control hitch them up and drive them your self
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post #5 of 9 Old 03-23-2013, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Thanks for your replies. Tried to post photos but not got to grips with it yet.

Flygap: No, he's not alone. He loves cattle so immediately after my mare died I turned him out with 5 heifers he was already familiar with (figured some company was better than none!). He would stand in the field like a statue whilst they lined up to lick him from nose to tail. It would send him into a trance and I would have to go wake him up to get him to come in for tea.

I then bought another yearling colt (driving prospect I hope). Unfortunately, 2012 being the year it was for me, this baby became seriously ill days after arriving on farm. Turns out his previous owner/breeder at some point failed to adequately worm him. The worm damage to his gut prevented him from absorbing the necessary micronutrients which over time compromised his immune system. The stress of moving to new premises caused him to collapse. Even the vet was surprised by the bloodwork as visually the colt was in good body condition and his faecal egg count was normal at onset of illness. It was about a month before we knew for sure he was "out of the woods" and it will take about 18 months for his blood parameters to return to normal.

He is still too weak to be grazed with my older gelding, but they have adjoining paddocks, so can groom eachother, etc.

Boy, did 2012 suck!!
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post #6 of 9 Old 03-23-2013, 06:59 PM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Cariboo, British Columbia
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Okay, all the horrible events are out of the way for you, smooth sailing ahead in 2013!
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post #7 of 9 Old 03-24-2013, 02:39 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
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Ah, Waresbear you'd think I was due a little good luck by now!

Unfortunately, we've just been given notice to quit our rented property after 13 years as the owner wants to sell. The lot includes an adjacent house and a large parcel of land, so way out of our budget. OH is having sleepless nights with worry. Strangely, despite the fact that I need to find a new home and a job asap I'm feeling unnervingly calm about the whole thing. I guess all any of us can do is hope for the best and plan for the worst, we're never really in control of our lives.

I started sorting through our stuff this weekend, downsizing ready for the move. Not quite a candidate for an episode of Hoarders yet but it's amazing what is accumulated over the years. I have been brutal with myself, especially in the old clothes department ("oh yeah, like that's gonna come back into fashion any time soon . . "). I came across my mare's baby box (her first halter, bridle, training bit, etc). Instead of dissolving into tears, I was able to smile and think of the good times we shared. Not sure where all this positivity is coming from, it's starting to freak me out!

My only real concern is whether my colt is fit to be moved, or will the upheaval cause a relapse? Some of his hair has recently dropped out in clumps, leaving bald patches (vet says this relates back to his immunity issue), but aside from this he is progressing well. He has started to trot and canter in short bursts, though his stamina is still poor. Prior to this, it was as if he had a flat battery, little response to his surroundings even when the gelding next door goes through his, er, flatulent rodeo bronc routine.

Then, just the other day he gently nipped me and ran away! Bad manners I know, but it was the first time he had shown any behaviour in need of correction, proper sassy colt behaviour. I couldn't have been happier!

Poor thing, if only he knew we have been postponing having him gelded until he showed some spark of life. Bet he'd have kept his teeth to himself!
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post #8 of 9 Old 03-24-2013, 03:48 AM
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Scotland
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Missingstar, how very interesting to hear how one horse can affect another when the human thought they were in charge. its a constant learning process for sure.
I hope you get settled somewhere soon. yes 2012 did suck, and getting rid of all that stuff is quite freeing in a way. due to not having any storage my life is now down to a couple of suitcases and a car load of bits and pieces. the only worry is that when I eventually get a place I will have to buy furniture or live in a very empty house.. and that's not a problem as I have had to do that before.
when my daughter was little she had a bed in the only carpeted room in the house and I slept on a camping mat, there were two easy chairs and television sitting on an old trunk in the other room. lol. it was warm and safe and that is all that's needed... though I did not expect to be in that position again, well hey ho that's life.


i am fed up with the speed and the greed of the world around me but i have not found nor can i offer a cure
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post #9 of 9 Old 03-24-2013, 05:16 AM Thread Starter
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Claire, sharing your life with an animal of any species is for sure a learning process, not to mention a humbling experience at times.

I can recount many instances during my Cob's formative training where he misbehaved. He wasn't confused about what was being asked of him, merely stubborn and his sense of mischief would come to the fore. Cue my mare. She would arrive on the scene unprompted like some kind of equine superhero to save the day. Her very presence would cause him to comply instantly.

Now, I'm no horse psychologist. I'm sure there are many experts on this forum who will forward, in their eyes, a perfectly logical non-humanised explanation of events. However, nothing will sway me from my belief that she was telling him "Now just you mind your manners, young man, or there will be Hell to pay later!". That being the case, it's quite obvious to see who was really in charge, and it clearly wasn't me!

I am totally with you in regards to a simple, uncluttered lifestyle, whether by choice or circumstance. My first place after college was unfurnished. All I had for the first two years was a bed, one chair and a portable TV. I'll never forget my first couch and table (secondhand, but I thought I was living the high life!). Then all the other stuff kind of sneaks up on you . . .
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