Herd Orders

Near dinner for the geldings is a great time to see the herds order- Jigs, Winter, Traveler, Spottie, and finally CJ. The Vampire Pony is outside the order. He is ubiquitous. He is everywhere. The bigger boys ignore him- or they think they do. In truth, he bosses them all around.

If one of the geldings steps out of order, the horse above him drives him away. That horse then drives off the horse behind him, and so forth, depending on who started it until the order is set back the way it is supposed to be.

Since Pono (a.k.a. “Oh No” Pono) left the barn, Jigs has been leader. He is not an aggressive leader, but with one snake of his neck and flat back ears, they all get out of his way. On the rare occasion it’s needed, he will call up enough energy to drive them away but he’s not a bully.

Winter is second to Jigs. He follows Jigs around a lot. He always has. They are best buds. During the time Winter was moved to the middle turnout to help transition a new horse to the barn, he and Jigs would stand next to one another with the fence between them. He’s the first to greet Jigs when we return from trail rides or a day off property.

I know I’m anthropomorphizing, but they are good friends. Bonded is the correct word I guess.

But I digress.

CJ is a large draft pony- about 14 hands and he is as heavy as or heavier than the rest of the geldings, but he is low in herd order.

He used to be in the mares herd where he was his own clique. I suspect he hates being with the boys. Alyssa said it best, “the geldings have rules that CJ has to follow; the mares just ignored. There were no rules.”

The geldings push him around a lot.

Tonight when the boys were hanging at the barn door waiting for their grain, I decided to take Jigs out of the herd to groom him.

CJ was pleased to see me heading toward the gate. I became his escape plan.

He’s done it before and blown by me. I know better now.

CJ followed us.

Or he tried to.

Jigs rolled one eye back toward and CJ froze. When he didn’t go away, Jigs swung his head around and glared; CJ jumped back.

Jigs and I easily slide the gate open and passed through.

Once it was closed, CJ went to the gate and shook it. “Wait, take me, take me.”

The rest of the herd watched, disinterested.

Jigs dropped his head to graze. CJ was out of sight and mind.

It’s is amazing how little effort Jigs took to put CJ in his place. Was it a roll of the eye and a snake neck?  My guess is there are cues so subtle, that me, a mere human, could not detect.

Once Jigs was groomed, I led him back to the pasture. Dinner was still pending. Jig barely waited for his halter to come off to charge up hill to reestablish proper order.

By the time I made it back to the barn he was where he belonged, at the back fence waiting for dinner, ahead of the rest of the geldings.

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