Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fickle Herd Dynamics

A few months ago B-Rad left the farm for awhile to see if returning to work was going to be an option. B-Rad and Alex had been BFF's for a couple of years at that point, with Darby rounding them out into a triumvirate for a little over a year. For two years B-Rad and Alex were always together, almost inseparable. You always wonder what impacts there will be any time a horse leaves (although typically we only have horses leave when they pass away), particularly when they are very bonded to a certain horse.

As we have always seen in the past when a horse has passed away, both Alex and Darby carried on as if nothing had changed in their world. Another excellent example of the power of group living. A couple of months after he left B-Rad returned. We were very anxious to see what would happen when B-Rad rejoined his herd.

When we led him to his pasture Alex and Darby happened to be grazing right up near the gate. We opened the gate and led B-Rad in. Alex and B-Rad immediately noticed each other. Alex let out a little nicker. B-Rad walked away from the gate and Jason and I had big grins on our faces as we watched the joyful reunion.

The joyful reunion that did not happen that is. B-Rad walked out to the pasture and kept walking past Alex and Darby. Alex made no effort to go over to him or to to greet him and carried on grazing. We were shocked! It has been proven in many studies that horses have amazing memories, and B-Rad had only been gone a couple of months. Clearly they recognized each other, in fact the whole herd recognized B-Rad. There was no squealing, nose sniffing, posturing, or any of the other typical behaviors that you often see as horses play their "getting to know you" games.

The first few weeks that B-Rad was back we saw him hanging out with Murphy more than anyone else. This was odd given that he and Murphy had never traveled in the same social circles in the past. However in the last couple of weeks B-Rad has been gravitating back to Alex and Darby and we are seeing him with them more frequently. Alex and B-Rad are nowhere near the inseparable, BFF status they had before but it will be interesting to see if that strong friendship is rekindled in the coming weeks.

The moral of the story? I have no idea, except that apparently horses can be as fickle as people when it comes to their interpersonal relationships. It has been very interesting to watch these herd dynamics play out, and needless to say we are very curious to see what happens over the next few weeks!

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pony cuteness with Norman and Traveller

Fellow blogger Lytha and I were going to have a contest about whose horse gets the dirtiest. When I sent her this picture of my retired horse Hoffy a couple of days ago I think she went ahead and conceded victory to me. Note he has a stocking on his left front that goes up to his knee that is all but invisible under the mud!

Hemi and Apollo were nose to nose

Tiny and Johnny hanging out in the woods

Miss Lyle and Mina snuggled up together

Murphy and Chili

Apparently this hay feeder is reserved for gray horses only; Moe, Homer and Ivan. I like how Ivan is trying to give himself pinto markings on his face. Moe was not going to be outdone and had turned himself into a pinto as well.

Trigger, Leo and Levendi

George and Fonzi

Dutch and Wiz

2 comments:

Snowhawk Przhevalsky said...

I cannot get over how adorable Norman is.

Vivian, Apollo's Mom said...

Apollo and Hemi look so cute! I am always surprised at how dark Apollo gets up in Tenn. He was always several shades lighter in the winter in Fl.