A Head of the Herd

Often we are tempted to keep our horses separate from others because they will bite and kick each other. And it is certainly infinitely preferable that the introduction of a new member to a herd should be done gradually and not that they are all just thrown together.
But a problem often seen at small equestrian centres with somewhat restricted space and just enough horses to form one or two separate bands, is that there is bickering and squabbling even in such a small group. So we implement rules to insure that the horse are only allowed together in established pairs, threes or fours. This is obviously very restrictive for the amount of time the horses are together and the rest of the time they will have to be kept in their respective boxes. Neither is a satisfactory situation, so what can we do about it? If we create a more natural environment, such as paths around our pastures, then this assists immediately in reducing the in-group fighting: horses on a path will have less chance to fight than if they are on an open piece of ground. Secondly, put the horses together – after all, they are used to each other, during lessons, for instance – and let them “fight” it out. Horses will rarely cause real damage to each other – unless they are shod, of course, but we don’t do that to our horses – and if allowed to mix for a longer time, then they will sort out their rankings in the herd and maybe even form smaller bands that avoid each other altogether.

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