Pecking order is a tricky thing. Horses like to have order in their social structure, and the bossier horses are quick to take charge. Mares tend to be more opinionated then geldings, and studs… well they just depend. Stallions that spend time as young stallions in the company of mares tend to understand that they must be respectful and take authority better. Stallions that have never been around other horses have to learn the hard way that mares aren’t always interested. Most people deal with geldings, so most studs become geldings very quickly. It takes them about 30 days to drop the hormones, but as we all know, hormones aren’t the only problem.
A short aside about Byron here… we adopted him when he was about 6-7 according to the vet (although these days I believe he may have been 5-6). He was intact when we got him, and we quickly had him neutered. He hasn’t dropped a single stud dog behavior. In fact, he spent all day yesterday running around (until I caught his sorry butt) with a neighborhood dog that is in season. Did they accomplish anything? Nope. Did they continue trying? ALL DAY! When I had him tied to the fence? Yep. She kept coming over to ‘play.’ So the moral of the story, sex specific behaviors are sometimes ingrained.
Enter this quandary of a new horse on the farm. He’s a sweetie. Cute black thoroughbred. I don’t actually know that much about him other than that he came to the farm and was immediately gelded and then kept in a stall for his thirty days. He had one day where he was enjoying some turnout, and he had his first encounter with Jellybean.
As you may or may not recall, Jellybean is a hormonal teenager. She can be very distracting to geldings and studs alike (just ask Slim…). She tries to be a distraction. And then squeals and runs away. Its even more graphic then that, but I’ll spare the junior readers of the blog.
So Jellybean lives on one side of the turnout fence, and this fancy new gelding was turned out on the other side of the fence. They were flirting hard. And apparently the gelding was so focused on getting across the fence, he required Robert’s assistance. Robert helped him back to the stall, and that was all for that event.
A couple of weeks later… and the black gelding is all moved into the pasture board with Jellybean and Gracie. And so the problems begin. Mares and fresh geldings. Sigh. Apparently they have been having some social issues. I didn’t personally witness any of the theatrics, but Jellybean and the black gelding have been entering altercations. He definitely got kicked in the face, which cut his nose almost enough for stitches. I know he somehow jumped over a fence (maybe to escape Jellybean’s reign of terror?) into the big pasture and caused a lot of trouble with the pecking order in that field. Some shredded blankets and a few large bruises on Knots and another boarder’s horse. I don’t actually know what is going on since I haven’t spent much time watching (the weather has been crap), but my guess is that he just hasn’t had much time in his life to socialize with other horses (or he only encountered one herd as a young horse and it stayed the same), and his ex-stud brain is trying to prove dominance over the other geldings (bruises and blankets) while trying to mount the mares.
So when I did get to watch the three ponies interact for a few minutes yesterday, I watched Jellybean herd Gracie around to keep her away from the black gelding. You can really see it in the picture, the gelding wants to come over and hang out. Gracie is oblivious and uninterested. Jellybean is fiercely guarding Gracie. Definitely not best friends. Hopefully they can reach some kind of compromise.
Anyways. All this to say, horses can be a little bit ridiculous in determining pasture hierarchy. Sometimes they work it out over a few days and can coexist peacefully until the next horses come into the system. Sometimes a horse doesn’t work out, and gets to explore other living situations or pasture groups. There is another notable incident that will get its own story. Stay tuned!