Herd Dynamics

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Wow, so much has happened in the past four weeks since I last wrote!

Herds of horses are very much like teams of people, in terms of the dynamics. However, no one gives the horses job descriptions, leadership titles, or instructions. They just figure it out on their own. They also do a lot more biting, kicking, and physical shows of dominance and submission than we see in a typical workplace.

But they are figuring it out, just like teams of people do when they are first thrown together. There is a leader, a pecking order, and sometimes a low man on the totem pole. Some horses herd others around the pasture, preventing the horse being herded from interacting with any other horses. Some horses use aggression in show only (flattening their ears, bobbing their heads, or running at another horse, but not making physical contact), while others go straight to biting or kicking another horse.

It’s hard to watch. It’s no secret that I am relatively new to horses, while Dani has a lifetime of experience with them. We make a great team, but for this part, my learning curve is pretty steep.

We have been adopting horses over the past two months, and we put them all in the same pasture for the first time on Saturday. Watching them run all over the pasture, I was struck simultaneously by how beautiful they are, and how important it is to respect their strength and power. If you don’t, you can get hurt.

We are on day three of them being together, and so far, everyone is still alive and walking around just fine. But the pecking order is still being established, and the tension among them is still high. Not dissimilar to what I’ve seen in some human teams.

More soon…

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