Horses in Charge
I have to laugh a bit about my Boys. With the freedom of being able to go in and out of the barn at will, they have clearly established their territory out there. And, the herd hierarchy is very obvious.
Toby is the alpha horse with Tucker running a close second. So, whatever Toby wants, Toby gets. This morning, under the leftover flakes of a mini now event--just a dusting, thank goodness--all three were under the west run in roof. Well, sort of. Toby was well inside, perhaps even in Chance's stall, Tucker was totally under the roof, and Chance, low man on the totem pole was half in, half out, clearly ready to take off should one of the other two decide he had to leave.
When I go out to feed, each Boy heads for his own stall. Then I open Toby's inside stall gate to put in his hay. I'll usually put Tucker's hay in from the outside as I walk through Toby's stall. Toby feels it is then his right and privilege to walk into the aisle of the barn to browse and explore. He likes to nibble on stray pieces of hay, check out Chance's stall for some reason, and then go to stand by the feed room door trying to hurry me along.
In the process, he might knock over the garbage can for or kick the movable step out of the way.
Today, Tucker decided to follow Toby into the aisle. The aisle is about twelve feet wide and thirty four feet long, so there was plenty of room. But not for Toby. Apparently Tucker was infringing on his exclusive rights. He did not get violent, but made it clear, with nasty faces that Tucker had to leave. So Tuck headed back out, with Toby at his back...giving him a good nip on the hind end to hurry him along. At least I know how the blankets lose their storm flaps!
It's not that often that I see Toby have to make physical contact to get his point across. As the boss horse, he has his rights and doesn't have to do much to enforce them.
Generally, as ulitimate "alpha horse," I don't need to make a lot of physical contact myself to get my point across. But I must be ever mindful that there is always the urge to social climb within the herd. Since I can't lay my ears back, I try to use assertive posture and attitude, resorting to a vocal "snarl" when one of the Boys tries to overstep my authority.
But every now and then, like Toby, I need to give a little "nip" to bring my point across. It's good to know such corrections are quite in the normal, natural order of things.