Horses Living as a Herd

Casie

Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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6 Responses

  1. AnneMarie says:

    Dear Casie,

    You are so right about this!
    Even though I have an ‘inverted’ herd with 3 geldings and 1 mare, they are one little family together… I will always notice the difference between the 3 boys together though as they were living together for more than 6 years before the mare joined them, but still she will find the time to divide her company with each of them in a row 😉

    My eldest one, who is head of the herd, is now almost 19 and not in very good health, he regularly lets the 3 others to be together while he stays behind… almost as to make them get used to be without him!
    It is amazing how these herd dynamics show between them!

    • Casie says:

      Thanks for sharing, AnneMarie. Isn’t it interesting how they interact with one another? I could watch them all day. 🙂

  2. Mary says:

    Love the article, but there are exceptions to the rule. The alpha horse who disrupts the entire herd constantly. We had a mare who would herd up the mares, force them into a corner of the pasture and wouldn’t let them out of there to graze or go to water at their leisure. They hated her. She would go butt to butt with any challenger and chew them up. We had to keep her separated, but next to the herd pasture. Accidentally one day, she got into the gelding pasture and the geldings wouldn’t tolerate her bossiness. Put her in her place. She buddied up with a former stallion and would “dog” him. Follow him any where and he was plain annoyed by her. She claimed him and would chase away any gelding that came close. Eventually, she was accepted by the herd and wasn’t so bossy. Now she’s so old (32), we worry about putting her in with the younger mares, because they will beat her up. We still separate mares and geldings, because there is such a fuss when one mare claims the geldings or vice versa. If we had more wide open spaces here, we would consider putting them out together. But they are all in small herds and quite happy with the arrangement.

    • Casie says:

      I understand that sometimes there are exceptions. Fences and smaller spaces definitely make things more difficult. I was terrified for many years to turn out any new horse with my gelding, Hershey, who is the dominant horse in the group. But I learned that if I made the transition slowly, things turned out just fine. Having at least one buddy is better than none, but what I love best about keeping all of mine together now is that they move quite a bit more as a herd of four.

  3. Jill O'Brien says:

    Enjoyed your article/s. From a childhood ‘dream’ horse person, and only ever seeing horses in paddocks, I am lucky to have about 60 acres and 6 horses, with a few goats looking after the property. Over the past 15yrs we have had the odd horse come and go, but in each case they were geldings. Things changed when I first introduced a mare, but one of my oldies is a true caring gentleman (always used for introducing new furbabies) always minded how she was treated. Then came a small, and young, gelding that had recently been a working stallion, and, the same time a slightly younger gelding, but big and full of play. Initially, separation was essential, but I introduced each one slowly until they each figured out where they all stood, and giving the young ex-stallion time to realise his new job and it’s taken 2 years but they all now run happily together in a herd. I love watching them interact. Although I do feed a simple ‘treat sized’ meal at night and share varying amounts (according to season and pasture condition) of hay, amongst all 6 and 9 goats. The 3 oldies 20, 27 & 28, regulate the space between the two young frisky ones and the mare stands guard some of the time, but also prefers the comfort of old General – she will most certainly miss him when his time is up.

    • Casie says:

      Thanks for sharing, Jill. There’s nothing I love more than watching my herd interact with each other. 🙂

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