Thought 4the day: Many things in life are set to make us think, take stock or simply knock us sideways. Noone knows what is around the corner or what any future really holds for us. This is worse for a horse or pony as they have no real control of their lives much like children. They might object or not listen but do they have a real choice? If you understand them, listen to them, level with them and yet its not quite enough they might feel more secure in life. Bonds aren't instant except on rare cases when you meet your sole mate. Some bonds have to be earnt and you can go from hell and back to get there! I know this one! My bond i am forming with Sausage is easy yet the one that i have now with my horse Henry took me 2 years (broken ribs, many many bruises, concussion you name it) but with patiance we did get there. Time is the key, understanding is another, patiance is the lock and with this you will have a friend for life who will feel secure...
Quote 4the day: If you have never loved a horse and never been loved by a horse, you have no idea what real love is.
Fact4 the day: Safety in Numbers
Feral horses (formerly domestic horses living in a wild state) generally form small, relatively stable herds consisting of a stallion, several mares, and their offspring. The herd operates as a unit in detecting and escaping from danger. If one horse detects danger, its escape response (lifting its head, snorting, and running) immediately triggers the same behavior in the other herd members. Horses that do not quickly respond to the danger signal usually become a meal for the predator, so horses do not stop to question the validity of the perceived danger. They simply run with the rest of the herd. If the danger signal seems to be a false alarm, horses typically stop and wheel around to face the perceived danger. Then, they often walk back toward the danger to investigate the cause of the alarm. The herd also provides safety during high-risk activities, such as resting or drinking water, by taking turns serving as lookouts while the others are performing the activities.
Within feral herds, horses may form tighter bonds with some herd members than with others. Social grooming, when horses stand head to tail and scratch each others withers or rump, can strengthen bonds between individuals. This activity occurs between adult, juvenile, and mare-foal pairs. Horses in herds form hierarchies in which the highest ranking horse bosses the other horses, the second highest ranking horse can boss all but the highest ranking individual, and so on, down to the lowest ranking horse in the herd. These rankings often are not straightforward linear orders but may contain triangular or circular ranking relationships. Hierarchies are formed through fighting. Once formed, the hierarchy suppresses outward signs of aggression and is maintained through subtle threats. However, horses continually look for opportunities to increase their ranks within the herd and must be vigilant to maintain the ranks they have. At first, newcomers attempting to join the herd often are rejected aggressively by the herd members. If accepted by the herd, the newcomer will have aggressive interactions with the other herd members to determine its hierarchal position.
Like feral horses, domestic horses instinctively want to be in a herd and readily form herds if maintained on pasture. The desire for contact with other horses can result in a horse running back and forth along the fence line or running through the fence if left alone in a field or paddock. The herd instinct of domestic horses causes common problems including misbehavior when the handler attempts to take an individual horse away from the herd or barn and vocalizations and excited, inattentive behavior when ridden alone. Stalled horses may exhibit similar behaviors when they do not have visual contact with other horses or are left alone in the barn while their immediate neighbors are out of the barn. A horses separation anxiety may also cause repetitive, habitual behaviors, such as weaving (exaggerated shifting of the horses weight between the forelegs), head tossing (moving the head in a vertical or vertical to horizontal plane often with considerable force), and stall walking (traversing a set area in a specific pattern).
Mares and their foals usually form tight bonds that require special handling from the manager. When moving mares, it is important to ensure that their foals, especially younger ones, are awake and following their dams before the move. A young foal that suddenly finds itself alone is prone to run through fences in its haste to find its dam. Likewise, weaning time can be stressful to both mare and foal and may result in injuries if not handled carefully.
Domestic horses react to perceived danger in the same way as feral horses. An alarm reaction from one horse in a riding group often results in other horses in the group bolting. Similarly, if the horses in a riding group are halted when one horse bolts, the bolting horse usually is controlled more easily. Horses that run from the handler to avoid being caught can cause the whole herd to begin this behavior. If horses are running, handlers should either wait until they stop running to attempt to catch them or pen them in a smaller area so they can be caught more easily.
Like feral horses, domestic horses readily form hierarchies. hierarchies can be influenced momentarily by human handlers, but the individual relationships between horses cannot be changed permanently by humans. For example, a handler can prevent aggression toward a horse as he leads it through a herd or past another horses stall, but when the handler is no longer present, the horses involved will have the same hierarchal relationship they had before the human interference. Because of the hierarchy and the closed nature of the herd, adding new horses to an established group can result in turmoil and injuries. Managers should attempt to group compatible horses during turnout and avoid constantly changing the composition of a group of horses.
Strategies to use when adding a new horse to an established herd include the following:
• Gradually introduce the new horse to the herd by putting it in a paddock or field adjacent to the herd. This requires a safe fence.
• Allow the new horse to ally with a low-ranking member of the established group in a separate paddock before turning it in with the group.
• Make sure that the turnout area is large enough for the newcomer to escape from the herd if needed.
Sometimes two horses are not compatible regardless of the amount of time and effort the manager devotes to the task. The easiest solution is to separate the horses. You may instinctively want to remove the aggressive horse and leave the more subordinate one with the herd. However, if the subordinate horse is the horse most recently added to the herd, it may be better to remove it from the herd instead. If the bully previously was getting along with the other herd members and is adamant about rejecting the newcomer, removing the bully may result in the second most dominant herd member taking over the harassment of the new horse.