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Some “Mare” Things to Think About
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Some “Mare” Things to Think About

If you have a mare in your herd does that mean she will be the dominant one? Are mares normally at the top of the order in a herd? Does the mare's place in the herd depend on the horses she is with?

My mare, Sierra, is at the bottom of the herd at home. She is pastured with 2 gelded horses (Harvey & Peanut) and 1 gelded miniature donkey (Little Bud). The only one she ever challenges is Little Bud. When she challenges Little Bud it is usually just her pinning her ears and if he challenges back she will walk away. Sierra never challenges Harvey or Peanut, they constantly push her around and run her off her feed.

Right now Sierra is at the trainer and is pastured with my friend's gelding, Domino. Domino and Sierra spend a lot of time together since we trail ride a lot. When we put Sierra in the pen with Domino there was no issue at all. They immediately stood next to each other and ate some hay. I have never seen either of them challenge the other one. They seem to be equal, neither one of them is above the other.

A few months ago I went on a camping trip with several friends. We put Sierra, Domino, and another mare in a pen together. The other mare was immediately at the top and the other horses never even challenged her. This mare is pastured alone most of the time because she is very dominant and constantly challenges other horses.

If a horse is dominant with other horses, will they be more challenging to train? If a horse challenges other horses will they be more likely to challenge their riders and trainers? Just a few things to think about...

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Leave a Comment

  1. Ariana
    Ariana
    She is in with 2 other mares now. LOL
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  2. Ariana
    Ariana
    They did have a "discussion" about pecking order. LOL
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  3. spirithorserider
    spirithorserider
    Herd dynamics certainly change with the individuals that are in it. I own an alpha mare that I raised from a foal. She was always dominant, even as a youngster, though she never challenged the three mares that dominanted her herd when she was a yearling. She did challenge me sometimes as a youngster, but I followed John Lyons' methods (basically whoever moves their feet first loses) and she accepted me as the "alpha" over her. She was challenging to train in her youth and I still have to negotiate (and I really mean negotiate, NOT fight) with her at times because of those old instincts that occasionally arise. She is now 16. For the first time in her life, she is in with a mare more dominant than her. Alpha mares can spend a lot of time separate from the herd. There are only the two in one pasture now and it is interesting to see that they do spend a lot of time apart, but then there are times, usually when they are dozing, where they will stand close. I have raised two mares and one gelding from babies in my life and they have all been different. I have often heard people say they would never have a mare, but I actually prefer them to geldings. Not sure why, but I think because I appreciate the fact that mares can have strong personalities because in the wild they would have to keep themselves and a foal alive. I love all horses, but givena choice I'll take a mare and I would never shrink away from having an alpha.
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