Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pony Wars

I have had a good time watching the dynamics between the mares and the two ponies that share their field. The mares in this field are Buffy, Harmony and MyLight. The ponies in this field are Missy and Cuff Links.

Missy was long ago claimed by Buffy. Missy is Buffy's pony and she adores her. Buffy will play "My Little Pony" with Missy for hours and groom her, stand watch over her while she naps, and graze with her. Harmony of course gets along with Missy but definitely doesn't have a claim on Missy the way Buffy does.

Buffy scratching her head on Missy's rump

Cuff Links was introduced into the mix several weeks ago. He wasn't really interested in being Buffy's next "My Little Pony" and much preferred playing with the big boys over the fence. I think he is smart enough to know that he couldn't keep up with the big boys if they were on the same side of the fence! Anyway, from time to time I would see him hanging out with Missy when Buffy would allow her to be with a different horse. Missy didn't try to boss Cuffie around and tell him what to do. I have learned that Cuffie doesn't like to be told what to do, he is quite happy to make those choices for himself!

So everyone was co-existing happily like this and then MyLight was introduced into the equation. MyLight wants to be friends with everyone, including the big boys. She and Cuffie could often be seen playing with the boys over the fence. Thus I guess it was natural that MyLight and Cuffie started to bond, and Cuffie was starting to become MyLight's pony.

MyLight and Cuffie hanging out by the water trough

Suddenly Harmony realized that she was the only mare that didn't have her own pony. She decided that Cuffie would be her pony. I watched this play out for a couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon. MyLight and Cuffie were hanging out together and I watched Harmony gradually grazing her way closer and closer to them. Soon she had herself in between MyLight and Cuffie, and she began herding Cuffie away so that she could have him all to herself.

Harmony and Cuffie

MyLight seemed oblivious to what was happening at first. But then she employed Harmony's tactic. She started grazing her way closer and closer to Harmony and Cuffie, until she had put herself in between them. Cuffie was hers again!

MyLight back in position between Harmony and Cuffie

I watched these silly mares maneuver themselves around and continue to try and stake their claim on Cuffie for quite awhile. It was very entertaining. Cuffie mostly ignored all of the jockeying for position around him and carried on in his usual manner - head down and grazing.

Today there didn't seem to be as much maneuvering for position and everyone seemed to be sharing better. Often Cuffie was in between MyLight and Harmony and the two mares seemed content to share him equally. Buffy has been more possessive of Missy than usual in the last week as she has been adjusting to having MyLight as part of the family. I noticed that Buffy was definitely more relaxed today about allowing others to hang out with Missy.

It was very cute to watch the mares have their stealthy pony wars over the last few days. Yesterday afternoon I was wondering if I would have to move another pony into their group so that each mare could have her very own pony. However they seem to be getting things worked out and learning how to share the ponies!

Grazing together


Anonymous said...

That is so funny! Mares are very possessive, aren't they? Our pony Norman did well when he used to be turned out with the big boys - he could run with the best of them - in fact he sometimes started things! Although he cared most about eating, he would groom with the alpha gelding - very funny to watch as he really had to stretch up to reach - and the alpha was his protector in the herd. Otherwise he ignored the rest of the geldings - although he would kick out if anyone bothered him (while squealing loudly!).

LuLo Designs/Blue Eyed Tango said...

This is so interesting Melissa. I cannot wait to turn Romeo out to see our herd dynamics! When we turned Slick out (at a year)(he was introduced to the gelding early) with the entire herd, Glory, (dominant mare) was showing him whose boss. He went right up to say hello to her so nicely and she turned around and kicked him in the side. I could not watch. I know they have to learn their place in the herd...but hard to sit back and watch. We were pretty sure that would be the case so that's why we waited until he was bigger....same with Romeo. I guess some can turn their foals right out in the herd or are born out in the field with the herd but we couldn't do that. He had a hoof welt for quite some time afterward but he never went up to her again.... all the horses just clear the way when she comes through! She really is a good herd manager. If we're in the pasture trying to bring in for the night...all we have to do is go after her and they all follow quietly. Then at the gate, we take them in according to rank....sometimes we mix it up but she's always first to go so there's no kicking involved. Cuffie is just the cutest...I would want him as my pony too! Thanks for you had fun that day...I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon! Luanne