How does a horse decide if it likes another one or not?

newforest

Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
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Some get along and some just don't.

I made a comment that mine doesn't care what you look like only that turned up. I actually don't know if that's true or not, if I do happen to have anything new because I've treated myself I am seriously sniffed over!

Do some look at mine and think Gosh you need to shave love. :p much like some people are itching to get the clippers out. Or do they just look at her and 'think' that's a different genus better not cross with it. :D

I am curious about the pecking order. I often wonder how they sort themselves out. Who is actually interested in mine when in season- two or three, and where they are in the pecking order. Lower.
 

Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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Interesting question, I guess it's a bit like asking how do we as humans decide who we like. There are people I like as soon as I meet them, couldn't tell you why, also there are those I take an instant dislike to and those I am not really fussed either way to start with but who I may warm to over time, I guess horses are no different but I would love to know the answer.
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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Well if when we meet people in the street we look at them and the way they dress we might walk on by if we don't like what we see. So I guess looks are everything. But then we further explore by communication. For us it's body language and then speech. So if we see kids acting up in the street we steer clear and if what comes out there mouth is not to our liking that makes our minds up.
Horses look first before they explore and interact. For them I guess there's less speech and more body interaction.
 
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newforest

Well-Known Member
Mar 15, 2008
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I wonder how many senses come into play.
I try to go by don't judge a book by its cover with people and horses. But I will go by my gut and I see someone and my instinct for whatever reason pipes up, don't like, I listen.

Mine likes most people, I used to say loves everyone. But she actively turns her head away from what she doesn't like, whom she doesn't.
I was told when I viewed if she didn't like me that would be it. You couldn't work with her because she doesn't change her views!
 
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Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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It is weird how some like others and some not. There was a horse on a yard we were on that actively disliked Storm. He would try and kick her as we walked by. Ears flat back and all that. Yet they had had little or no interaction? Most odd. The nearest she had seen him and him her was a field away during the daytime. He had no reason (that I could fathom) to not like her. Never seen any other horses do this with her. She doesn't much stay friendly with Chloe tho. Adores Zi:rolleyes:
 
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Cortrasna

Grumpy old nag
Aug 5, 2009
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Interesting question NF. Not sure I know really if it could be pinned down as they are so hard to read sometimes when they are interacting with us, let alone other horses.

I do remember one instance with Solly when I had a new mare on trial and as she loaded off the trailer in the yard - he came full pelt across the field at flat out gallop with ears pinned back before he had got so much as a sniff at her.....when I turned her out he chased her all around 13 acres eventually pinning her in the corner and turning to double barrel her repeatedly. Horrible reaction and never seen it in him before that day. I even tried them alongside each other for a few days and he still repeatedly ran at the fence ears pinned and teeth gnashing. She went back and that was that. Had other horses come and go with little or no reaction from him so i have no explanation there.

I do remember that Dolly really didnt like JJ when she arrived, allowed all the others including the donkeys, Solly and a couple of other horses I had here then to enter her inner circle but not him - he was driven off constantly until the day he left for his new home, but he was very much a bottom of the pecking order type of horse, even the donkeys treated him with utter disdain, so maybe the pecking order has something to do with it? But then how and why do they decide the pecking order?
 
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Trewsers

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It is most interesting. Storm takes no notice whatsoever of some horses. My neighbour recently had a new mare who wss clearly in charge immediately of her herd. Yet Storm did not even bother to go and say hello through the fence. Zi did, and was met with a clean pair of hooves lol thank goodness for post and rail! Yet madam will always "speak" to the other mare. Odd. I love watching them and their "conversations".
 

Lemme

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May 22, 2008
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No idea but Charlie and Gem cannot be put in together , neither give in and injuries occur, shes a lot bigger than him, but when they got together one day he pinned her in a corner and proceeded to kick the hell out of her, maybe its because shes bigger and younger he sees her as a threat, but size is no deterrent to him. all the others mix fine, not tried Gem and Myst yet so that will be interesting to see as Myst is very strong willed.
 

domane

Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
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Jack always comes across as the big I am in my herd but he has always been at the bottom of the pecking order in the field with the gelding on the yard. He still bosses Albi around - and Albi takes it from Jack, but not others, even though Albi is higher up the pecking order. It's all very complicated!

The only one that Jack took a total exception to....and never settled around.... was the mare that broke all my ribs. Maybe he knew something I didn't....
 

Bodshi

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Apr 23, 2009
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I love to watch herd politics. Jack is generally a very easy going soul who is bottom of the pecking order (except that he hates little ponies and will try to kill them :rolleyes: ) But in his field with two much younger geldings they'll move him about and he'll just walk out of the way, until he's had enough and then the other two know, just by his expression, and will give a little flounce of their head, as if to say "well, I was going to do something else anyway" and leave him alone.

Raf has never got on well with other horses, in fact mares especially used to hate him when he was young - I don't know whether it was because he was late cut and mares don't like stallions around? He doesn't seem to have an inflammatory effect on most other horses now (with the odd exception), but at the moment he's on his own in a paddock because he has no idea he's just a little pipsqueak and will try to boss everyone around and be really annoying, which YO is genuinely afraid will end up with him getting a broken leg from a good kicking. The only horse I have ever seen stand up to him was a big young gelding who didn't do anything in the least aggressive when Raf challenged him, he gave him a "what's your problem?" look and when Raf swung round to double barrel him, the young horse just swung his backside into Raf's, at which point Raf was totally nonplussed and took himself off in a proper flounce.

Raf's paddock is next to the outdoor school and if he's feeling particularly lively he sometimes lunges over the fence at the horses being schooled, which results in him being put in his stable until the lesson is over. He is a bit of a nuisance really. There is just one horse - a TB mare - that he really loves. If we go out hacking together instead of putting his ears back if she gets too close he snuffles and kisses her. He'll put his nostril right over hers and breathe deeply. I don't know why he loves this mare so much, and I did wonder whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing to turn them out together. But it's immaterial anyway - the mare can't be turned out in a two horse paddock because she's incredibly stressy if she gets left on her own.

I find it all incredibly fascinating, I must say.
 
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Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
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Ziggy is not like the other horses in the field, who all have likes and dislikes. He seems to like and get on with everybody. He's a horse that others like to follow, perhaps because he is so happy in himself, but I've never seen him challenge others for dominance. He is genuinely easy going. He also seems to seek out horses who are shy or lonely and spend time with them until they have settled, as much as he can across a fence. He's a very genuine soul.
 
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