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How Herd-Life affects our Horses

scottie laying down in the field

We all know that horses are herd animals and need company, but because most of us do not move our horses around a lot, we don’t see how different herds and turnout routines affect our horse.

However, since I have had Scottie, we moved around a lot and Scottie has been in lots of different situations. He has been out 24/7 in individual turnout, he has been out 24/7 in small groups (2-4) horses, all day turnout in pairs. Some times with mares, sometimes with geldings, sometimes with both. At our new yard Scottie lives out with about 6 other geldings, although for the first few weeks they all came in at night. So in our time together we have experienced a lot of different situations and I do notice a difference in his behaviour, which helps me decide what lifestyle suits him best.

When he was living out by himself, the horses in the field next to him came in at night, or the closest horse was a few fields over. He was fine during this time but I noticed that he was a bit spookier and on his toes. However, this was easily put down to him being by himself.

More recently I have noticed a change in his behaviour. Once again I have noticed that he has become spookier, like he hadn’t quite settled in. However, he has been there about 3 months now and settled in really well. It is only recently his behaviour has changed. One of the main reasons behind this is that I think his role in the herd has changed. He has always been fairly passive with other horses and if he wasn’t at the bottom in the field, he only had 1 or 2 horses to boss around.

However, in this new herd he is higher up in the pecking order and I think he has more of an important role. If all the horses are laying down having a snooze in the morning, Scottie will be the one standing up on look out. Or he’ll be having a snooze while everyone else is up. I have also seen him chase several of the others out of his space, which is something he has never really done before!

So I think a big reason why he is being more spooky atm is that he is used to being on lookout on the field and feels like it is his responsibility. However, I think it might also be boredom on his part. He is spooking in the school and out hacking, but doesn’t look at anything when we have been to shows…

Have you noticed differences in your horses behaviour when you have changed their yard/herd?

Last Updated on 14/01/2022

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