Thank goodness horses don’t use facebook a/k/a herd dynamics

Reader beware – anthropomorphism ahead!

Trying to describe the various dynamics in our small barn herds is difficult. Trying to do it succinctly is pretty darn challenging.

There are fourteen horses on the property and they are divided into three turnout groups currently. The “Belgian group” is made up of Hank, Belle, Liberty, Quinn, Sam, and Fred (when he is able). Overall, they are a fairly herd bound group. Belle is the mother of Liberty and Quinn. The moment Quinn was born, Belle forgot about Liberty. Quinn was weaned around six months, but Belle never got the memo. Her main concerns are keeping tabs on Quinn and Hank. Belle likes to have a boyfriend, but is not necessarily picky. Any big lug of a draft will do. Belle is quite the butt kicker despite a weak hind end and does not take gruff off of anything. Liberty is keeping tabs on the situation and challenges her mother in terms of Hank’s affection and bossing her brother around. Liberty and Quinn, like human siblings, will tiff with each other but are a united front against any perceived threat. Sam has mellowed in his advanced old age. If Sam manages much longer, we will have to divide his life into epochs. Sam was old when he arrived ten years ago and is somewhere around 30. Sam has never made a decision he did not follow through on with bull headed determination. Sam loves to test how small an opening he can ram himself through. The doors and gates in the barn have been grateful for Sam’s physical aging. However, Sam can be turned out with anyone and not bully or be beaten up himself. We use him as the test buddy for every new horse.

The boarder group is the most fluid and currently consists of Webster, Flynn, Sky, Rosie, and Cosmo. Flynn is the undisputed leader and no one messes with her. Even the horses know about the red mare stereotype. Flynn is confident in her alpha mare status and actually causes very little trouble and is pretty friendly to other horses. Here the drama begins. Sky is Flynn’s henchmen and guards his number two status very carefully. As long as he knows Flynn is present, he can be rather aggressive towards Rosie and Cosmo. If Flynn is in, Sky courts Rosie with determination and is quite the Cassonova. When he with just the boys, Sky will play face-grab and wrestle all day long.  Rosie is still figuring out this social group setting and stays back from everyone but Cosmo, unless it is just her and Flynn out. Webster, like Sky, would make a great overzealous correction officer in a movie. Web feels that turn out revolves around one fact and that is eating. Web will gleefully bully anyone that he can, but cannot be bothered to leave food for long. He is very deferential to Flynn and tries to keep his distance. He and Sky spend a lot of their time pinning their ears at each other to maintain number two status. Fortunately they are both smart enough to not actually engage and risk injury.

Cosmo also goes out with Ries, Rio and Whitman – at least when Whitman is on parole. Cosmo turns into a bully toward Ries, so he may lose his nighttime turnout privileges. Ries is by and large a pansy. Whitman can occasionally goad Ries into kicking him, but only with extra annoying. Rio is a stitch. Rio will play “biteface” with anyone. He pretty much goes up on his hind legs like a meer cat and engages with whomever is game. I’d worry about his stifles, but if it has not affected him yet, its probably not going to. Overall, they are a pretty peaceful group. Whitman and Ries seem to be extra susceptible to Murphy’s Law, but maybe its just because I own him.

Fred is currently on limited turnout. He has mellowed with age but spent much of his life being very aggressive. He can be turned out with any mare, but tends to be a piranha  towards other geldings. A severe butt kicking by Belle has kept him in is place for about the last seven years. Fred has a patented blanket ripping technique with biting that relegates him to turn out with the drafts who rarely ever wear blankets. Fred currently is living a life akin to that of a barn cat and seems quite content.


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