Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Eagle, Nebraska, USA
Is this mare too bossy?
We got our first horse, a 16-yr-old gelding, last fall. He's pretty mellow, and spent last summer at a kids camp. He was alone at our place for four months, and got pretty ornery without any friends.
Ten days ago, we brought home a 20-yr-old mare to try out before buying. She's been a 4H show horse, and has been owned for the last 5 years by a good friend of mine (used by his teenage daughter). At her old place, she played second fiddle to a bossy gelding. My friend said that she was always the sweetheart horse that they'd put beginner kids on.
Since the mare arrived at our place, the two horses quickly established a pecking order with the mare on top. That involved a few kicks by the mare once we finally let them into the same pen (after about 36 hours separated by a fence). We figured that was normal. I know the two like each other's company (as opposed to no company at all), because one goes crazy if you try to saddle up the other one. They often hang out near each other in the pasture (but not TOO near).
However, the mare seems to be getting increasingly bossy toward the gelding. She often corners him in his stall or the corner of the corral. (Both stalls open into a shared corral and then a shared pasture.) She frequently lays her ears back toward him, and kicks at him for no apparent reason. Most of those kicks seem to be of the "punch in the shoulder" variety, but a couple of them have been pretty hard. None have left a mark, other than mud. Not all of them make contact, and the gelding hasn't made noise about them except for the very first time. We haven't seen any biting. The gelding never responds in kind. He does seem like he's pretty dejected lately, though, after being very excited when she first arrived. Sometimes he won't eat after we stall him for the night, which is unusual for him (his hay net hangs in his stall).
Is it typical for the alpha horse to continuously assert their dominance like this? I would have expected that to settle down after a few days, but if anything, it's gotten worse. Before we commit to buying this mare, I just want to make sure that she's not being unusually mean to our gelding. I don't want to create a long-term situation where they don't get along.
All things being equal, we had wanted to get a second gelding. However, after being burned by a couple prospective sellers, the ability to buy a reliable horse from a trusted friend was a huge plus, even if it was a mare.
What do you think? Is our gelding probably doing fine, or are these two just not going to get along well?
10 acres in the country.
Just settling in with our first two quarter horses.
RIP Cochise, 2019-04-16. You will always be loved.