Friday, February 17, 2012

Such a Bully

Middle Child Syndrome

Tucker is such a bully with Chance. I'm not sure Chance really cares too much as he is an independent sort, but he certainly does have to submit to the "Bullybay."

Last night, when I went in Tucker's stall to feed him, Chance was outside, somewhere near the outside door. Tucker squealed and made an aggressive move towards that door. The trouble was, I was in the stall too. I gave him a shout and he instantly behaved, but the mere fact that he would do that when I was there really made me angry. ( I did not have to make any physical correction as my verbal reprimand was just fine.)

I've been watching some of the herd interaction out there and Tucker really does insist on bossing Chance around, even when there is no reason.

For his part, Chance doesn't really run away, but just kind of moves aside far enough to be out of reach and safe from Tucker's attitude.  Tucker makes sure that Chance is reminded of his status when I go out to feed by herding him away from the barn. And Tucker makes Chance wait at the water trough until he has had his fill.

Often, when it rains, if Tucker and Toby are standing under the run in shed, Chance is left with part of his body standing outside, getting wet because Tucker will not let him in.  This is not all the time, though. This week everyone was under cover, so there must be some sort of logic to it all. (Horse logic? Another oxymoron?)

And it's not that Tucker and Chance are enemies. They often play together and seem to be having quite the good time. And, when Tucker's blankets get ripped, I am more than certain Chance is the one who does it. (Toby is just not a "ripper.")

The other day, Chance and Toby were lying on piles of hay in the sunshine in the paddock, napping. Along came Tucker who "commanded" Chance to get up. Perhaps it was the "changing if the guard," and Chance's time to stand sentinel, but it looked more like just another bullying tactic.

Toby is herd boss, no doubt about it, and nobody fools with him when he says so. Middle child Tucker is ever the social climber. I guess Chance's mild manner makes him the perfect "whipping boy," for the schoolyard bully.

Not much  can do about it, despite all my teacher skills from the classroom.

Think I need a graduate course in "Horse Bullies 101?"


  1. We have the same thing going on around here. Mellon has always been leader and he's sort of a bully too, although he's been mellowing with age. He's not quite as aggressive as he used to be.

    Herd hierarchy is very interesting to watch. When and if he ever feels like bucking the system I'm sure your boy will speak up for himself. But he might be perfectly okay with the way things are right now. I've noticed some horses don't want to be the boss and are happy to follow the leader.

  2. I have noticed there are more fights for being number two than number one. Also insecure horses are often the most agressive, hence the attack at feeding time.

    IMO, In your presence they should behave at feeding time. There are many strategies to apply, many on the web if you do a search.

    About general bullying there is not much to do, except take the bully away from the herd, if it becomes too much. But i guess right now it is normal herd dynamic ^_^

  3. I often have to remember that I can't apply my "civilized" human rules to my little herd. They fight, but then they always seem to work out their problems on their own. Spider is a bully, but the other two put him in his place if he goes too far. Especially little Matilda, I've seen her kick him right in the face when he gets too cheeky! They are certainly much rougher in their social interactions than we are!

  4. Be glad you don't have a mare in the mix:)

  5. Borrow Jazz to study for your module! He is the perfect example of the horse who bullies because he is a coward. He left Radar covered in blood from head to foot when I introduced them, and would have done the same to Ace if I had let him. And yet after a year in the same group, he is subordinate to them both. Radar is boss, Ace is next and Jazz very much the bottom of the pile.