?????? asked in PetsHorses · 9 months ago

Is it normal for horses to change pecking order?

I have two mares. The older mare has always been aggressive and dominant towards the younger mare. She recently got sick and is on antibiotics. Now the younger mare is the  boss. Will the older mare become dominant again after she recovers and feels better?  

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    8 months ago

    Possibly. Although it's not likely, because now that the younger horse knows she can win, she will continue to dominate the older one.

    And yes, it's normal for horses to move up or down in the pecking order of a herd. When and how they do this depends upon multiple factors, however.

  • 8 months ago

    I like to believe I have some solid understanding of horse psychology, however I am accepting of the fact that I don't know everything, and my acquired knowledge may not always be the complete truth. So if anyone would like to add on, dig into my answers further or debate me I'm open to it.

    1.) Is it normal for horses to change pecking order? 

    Yes. Horses rely greatly on their exceptional cognitive flexibility to adapt to a variety of situations which includes social hierarchies. Also, because horses are not true herd animals (and instead exist within "bands") horses set their own agendas which don't always correlate with supporting group over individual needs. This means that there is constant jockeying for power within bands.

    Bands are just as fluid as the members who compose it. And so, when there is a change to a member, then naturally the dynamic of dominance equally changes.

    2.) Will the older mare become dominant again after she recovers and feels better?

    Yes. It sounds like you have two horses that have action-oriented personalities. Instead of acting passively off of sociosensual awareness and achieving their goals through calculation and patience, a bold horse is more likely to bully the other horse into temporary submission. And so, it would be fair to predict that the stronger and more persistent mare will end up calling the shots.

    With all this said, it is important to understand that with equids, dominance does not directly coordinate with leadership. A passive horse is not necessarily the subordinate or any less goal oriented. This is why humans are able to have strong and successful working relationships with horses while avoiding anthropocentric methods.

    All the best.

    Source(s): Farrier & horseman
  • Amber
    Lv 5
    9 months ago

    Yes, that's normal. You may find it'll change back against once your older mare has recovered. 

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    Horses will on occasion change dominance within their group. Illnesses, can make a horse weaker temporarily until they are over whatever it was and are up to their usual energy level. Horses that have feet problems much the same, they give up the leader role in order to concentrate on getting better as the pain and healing process take a lot of energy from them.

    When my mare had an eye injury and needed surgery she became the bottom of her grouping of 6. Her foal (2 year old) was more dominant than her dam and would push her around in the paddock.

    About a year after the surgery and separation from the group she was finally back out in the paddock with the others, took her less than a day to reestablish pecking order amongst the geldings and mares. All she had to do is pin her ears and all the others backed off. It was my first experience with this and I wasn’t sure what to do when my vet suggested to let them work it out, only pull the troublemaker or any of them that keep getting picked on.

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  • 9 months ago

    it might be for those horses

  • Pearl
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    it mgiht be for them

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