How herds change

Your Horse (UK) - - Horse Care -

When Emma added a mare to her herd, the peck­ing or­der changed — and then again when the group’s leader was in­jured. “My herd of six Con­nemaras was made up of five geld­ings and one mare. I bought the geld­ings to be lower-rank­ing horses, so no lead­ers. Then I added a mare! Although I knew this would add drama, I felt it would be use­ful to my team in the long term. “Adding Ca­lypso caused the geld­ings to al­lo­cate a leader, a role which At­lantis took on. The rest of the geld­ings set­tled down and Ca­lypso be­came the ‘honey’ in my team. They all adored her, but she be­longed to At­lantis. “This helped my team be strong to­gether and At­lantis adapted to the role with­out adding any fear. “In 2015 I wanted to add two more to my team and be­cause I couldn’t find any­thing to­tally suit­able, I bought Evenos, a nat­u­ral, strong leader, which I knew would change the dy­nam­ics. “The two new ponies joined my herd in com­pletely dif­fer­ent ways. Echo went in through the back door, knock­ing first be­fore he went in — it was all very po­lite. But Evenos was like a bull in a china shop, head­ing straight for Ca­lypso. “At­lantis wasn’t im­pressed and they had end­less dom­i­nance games over her. In the end, At­lantis had the up­per hand as he al­ready had a re­la­tion­ship with Ca­lypso and was older than Evenos, so dealt with the new­comer. This was how it stayed and they all seemed happy. “Last year At­lantis was in­jured and I could see Evenos, and then some of the oth­ers, weigh­ing up how and when to make their move to become the leader. They didn’t need to fight as At­lantis knew he was in­jured and stood no chance, so Evenos took his place as leader with no ques­tions asked. “The other geld­ings still re­spect At­lantis, but they know he is a weak link and don’t share the same con­nec­tion for him now. In the wild they would move off and leave him be­hind for the good of the herd.”

Left: At­lantis meets and greets the herd and, above, as­sert­ing his sta­tus as herd leader to Evenos

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