Older Horse herd dynamic

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Marsha Cassada

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Dapper Dan is 26. He has always been dominant. Any horse I brought home that was also dominant ended up in a squealing, kicking fight.
When I brought Billy home, I was told he was definitely not dominant. Bottom of the totem pole. But he is driving Dapper Dan out of the leanto shelter, moving in on his feed tub, and driving him in the pasture.
I went out and sat in the leanto on a chair so Dapper Dan could come in for his customary nap. Billy tried to drive him out, but I intervened. Dapper Dan is my little heart horse. I don't like to see him driven.

But, is it time for Dapper Dan, because of age, to give up being top horse, naturally?
 

HersheyMint

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With my big horses, I had a gelding and bought a mare and was told she was not dominate. She was pushed around by the others at pasture. She was very dominate at my place, like you are describing. Does it have something to do with arriving at a new place? Or it could of been a mare thing. 🤣
 

Abby P

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I'm not sure age really comes into play unless the horse has slowed down significantly in a physical sense. However, I have seen firsthand with my own horses that a horse that acts really dominant in one type of situation with some types of horses, can become complete low man in a different situation. And it seems to have NO bearing on physical size, age, gender, whatever - just completely personality dependent, and herd dependent. So your new guy may have always been low man in his prior situations, and maybe he isn't going to be now. And maybe DD is OK with that, if he isn't fighting back. It will probably settle after a little while, but you may need to separate for bucket feedings if Billy feels that DD is getting something more/better than he is. :)
 

Marsha Cassada

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Yes, I separate for feeding. At first Billy must have been used to sweet feed or cow tubs as he didn't like the plain fare I serve. He wandered around, thinking there must be something better. Today he scarfed it all up. Still cannot get him to eat an apple bite.
We'll see how the dynamic plays out.
 

Kelly

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That is so interesting. My 23 yo extremely dominant biggie was across the fence from a 20 yo youngster and after a year we put them together… yep… my biggie still runs the show! So IDK… guess it depends on personality. Now if I put my biggie out with a large group of horses (say 10-15) he does know his place is at the bottom of the herd but it doesn’t take him long for him to reach second or so in command 🤣🤣

Go Tonto go 🤣🤣💕💕
 

Becmar

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I think all of us have had an issue like this. We have that one heart filled horse but as they ag some one will take over. Sounds like Dan doesn't want to confront. Unless he does there will not be a change. So unless you pen them separate that's how it will be.

I have and alpha mare but with my older gelding she's not.. take her out and out her with others *** there is the alpha again.

Good luck.
 

MaryFlora

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If they are otherwise peaceful together, it seems like they will work through their new partnership just fine. Dan may not really mind especially if he otherwise is happy with Billy. Mutual back scratching solves much. 🤣

Over the decades, my little herd dynamic has change multiple times. Buddy was a dominant mini of my six, in a mild but firm way and when he passed away at 30, I assumed the “second in command” would be tops. Nope. One of the more hesitant blossomed into king. 🤔😁

I also feed separately.
 

Dragon Hill

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Marsha, I would say yes, in nature there comes a time when the alpha gets ousted by a younger, stronger individual. The new horse naturally will test limits. It does sound like Dapper Dan has relinquished his crown, but the relationship could still be in the testing phase. I know you are keeping a close eye on them, as things could get better, or worse. But the most important thing is Dapper Dan's health and happiness.
 

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