As for my horses though - if you've never seen a more dominate horse refuse to allow another horse under shelter...you haven't seen much horse behavior. I've argued for years that dominance in horses is NOT strictly linear, and involves more complexity than what many assume. I have been told, for example, that horses are constantly seeking to get above us in the pecking order, just as they constantly seek to get above each other - and that is bogus. The fact that Bandit is regularly chased away from food, yet can take charge any time he wants to, suggests a more complex scenario. The fact that he is ALWAYS #1 to eat horse pellets, but #3 of 3 for anything else, including shelter, suggests a more complex scenario.
But the idea that horses never dominate each other or use brute force to get their way is ludicrous. Some horses are bullies. Some are loners. Some are very dominate about one thing and can't care less about another. But yes - Bandit has too many bite marks on him for me to believe horses live in simple peace and harmony.
And yes, Bandit is usually the instigator. He's the one who tries to get the older horses to chase him. And sometimes they get irritated with him. Bandit also loses his temper at times - with other horses and with me.
I have never met a horse, anywhere, under any circumstance, that supported the idea that horses never dominate another, never use force, and never try to impose their will on another horse.
I remain convinced that one of the big things we can offer a horse is our own sense of fairness, and our own relatively non-judgmental acceptance of a horse. There are undoubtedly humans who abuse and intimidate horses, and who treat them both harshly and unfairly. But that has nothing to do with Ask - Tell - Demand.
Well, I actually agree with much if not most of what you have just said. I forget exactly the context, but you were saying that every morning when you went out and saw the bite marks that was enough to convince you of something or another. Seeing bite marks every morning is not normal in my view and should not be used to conclude anything other than that there is a problem somewhere.
I am sooo much about the complexity of horse's social interactions. Hondo appears to absolutely detest Dragon. I've come up with various reason, Hond really is very jealous and Dragon is all over people but I think there is more to it. I have finally just thrown up my hands and decided to trust Hondo that he knows more about what's going on than I do and may be justified. He pins his ears and sometimes bares his teeth but does not bite, and least doesn't leave marks.
One thing I would question is that we have fairness to offer above what can be found in the herd, if that is what you said and meant.
I do believe those relationships are there in the herd and believe I have observed them.
Just to be certain, it is obvious to me that some horses do use brute force to get their way. But even though I fully understand and appreciate that fact, I would not go so far as to label someone as ludicrous if they happened to not be aware of that fact and said otherwise. That's being unfriendly IMO. There are more friendly and productive ways to enlighten others.
As far as horses being a loner, if you're talking about one grazing near but off from the herd a little, yes, but if you're talking about a loner in the wild, I respectfully but completely disagree. As you've heard, a lone horse is a dead horse.
I'll also mention that I do not accept the idea that horses are constantly testing the pecking order. Everyone that has made serious studies of wild herds conclude the social structure is very stable with only some testing going on, but certainly not all the time by all members. Rimmey is slightly dominant over Hondo and I've never seen Hondo test him other that, hey buddy, you're pushing a little hard there, to which Rimmey always backs off. They are very good friends.
I'm really puzzled about some of the behavior you report your horses engage in and really do think it is a huge mistake to extrapolate those behavior to horses in general.