A bal­anced herd

EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

Equine dy­nam­ics, in a bal­anced so­cio-cog­ni­tive con­text, are mostly moments of calm un­der­stand­ing. The fact that we some­times see fights when horses are put to­gether for the first time shows their so­cial abil­i­ties have been af­fected by hu­mans and that the process of in­te­gra­tion often fails to re­spect their needs.

Yes­ter­day, a change was made in my neigh­bor’s pad­dock. A Friesian foal, his mother and a Shet­land mare found them­selves along­side our mare group, with whom they have been neigh­bors for a while. On the other side were our four males—the bach­e­lor band. For the males, this was a mo­ment of strong in­ter­est. The four of them stood next to each other, ob­serv­ing and tak­ing ev­ery­thing in.

For the fe­males, this was a new sit­u­a­tion where they could ex­change in­for­ma­tion. In a bal­anced so­cio-cog­ni­tive con­text it is not about hi­er­ar­chy and dom­i­nance, un­der­stand­ing who has which rank—they are not an army. In­stead, get­ting to know each other is about work­ing to un­der­stand in­for­ma­tion, tak­ing it one step at the time and learn­ing to take each other into ac­count. Cre­at­ing an im­age of each other, and of the re­la­tion­ship dy­nam­ics as well, starts be­yond a fence.

This means, for ex­am­ple, that in one mo­ment, the Shet­land mare showed a bit of an ex­ag­ger­ated, re­ac­tive be­hav­ior to­ward the foal (with a rear kick), while our male Falò ac­tu­ally ex­pressed a soft, calm­ing nick­er­ing.

The usual in­ter­pre­ta­tion would have been that the Shet­land mare claimed dom­i­nance to­ward the foal. But the Shet­land mare in that sit­u­a­tion is ac­tu­ally in need of a more slow un­der­stand­ing of the dy­nam­ics around her, of new ex­pe­ri­ences in which she finds she can ac­tu­ally trust and rely upon the horses around her be­ing able to read dy­nam­ics and her­self.

A bal­anced herd searches for a calm life to­gether and pre­serves each other’s in­ner state.— Francesco De Gior­gio and JosŽ De Gior­gio-Schoorl

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