Monday, January 5, 2009

My fascinating herd...

For the first time, I've put all 6 horses out together. I've been keeping the 2 geldings separated - keeping 1 in the stall/large run while the other is with the mares and for the most part, Cowboy's had to be the one in lock-down. After all, he's only been here about 2 weeks. These are, for all intensive purposes, Gemini's mares.

Well, yesterday, Cowboy had a 2nd day with the mares while Gemini had to watch. I hate to do it, but I'm trying to be safe as possible and also try to get to a point where all the horses can find there place in a herd together. That seemed to go ok. This morning, no one had a bite mark or a worry. However, there was obviously lots of feet moving outside of the run where Gemini spent the night. The snow is majorly shuffled in that area. Nina seems a little defensive with Cowboy and she's staying pretty close to Abby. Which is very interesting.

So, I decided to let Gemini out and see what would happen. It was amazing and it went like this...

Gemini immediately went to roll. After 12-16 hours in a run, he needed to ROLL! As I stood there, my two mares Rain and Zarah trotted over to me and hung with me. They DO NOT like Cowboy. They both are offended by his very presence. They've obviously been buddying up. When Gemini was let out, they followed him around a bit but what was very interesting was that Nina and Abby followed Cowboy. Do I have 2 bands?

Gemini trotted around with some energy and Z stayed by his side like a faithful soldier. Rain followed him a little, with only a little energy, and then she did an amazing thing. She stopped, turned back to me and stood and stared at me. It was as if she was saying, "Aren't you coming?". Then, I just stood there and waited and about 2 mins later, she came trotting back to me from a whole pasture away!! She left the herd and came enthusiastically back to me! When Z took notice of what she was doing, she followed suit. When Gemini realized his mares were leaving, he jumped on the bandwagon and then all 3 were trotting back to me! Wow.

Cowboy stayed way out there and so did Nina and Abby. He slowly came back from across the pasture and his mares slowly followed him. I'm going to try to sit out there and watch more of the herd behavior after a couple of my work conference calls. I'm fascinated. The good news is that it seems there's little physical unrest - no biting, kicking, rearing. There's definitely antics, but it seems to be harmless at this point.

What a cool display of herd behavior. I love watching and learning about them and how they think and work.

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