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Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Lead Mare's Work Becomes More Subtle

March 30, 2014
The morning began by feeding hay and grain in the barn followed by turning out Wit and Sirius Eclipse with Venus. 
Sirius had been paddocked next to Wit and was first to go out. I wanted to see how he would react to her leaving. 
The three other mares were still in their stalls and should have been enough company for him. I had lots of opportunity to watch his antics as I made my way back to the barn. 
I was pleased to see him pawing the ground rather than attempting to jump the fence! and was also very pleased to see him walk into his stall hoping to be next to go out, which he was. 
Sirius and he immediately walked together, dropped their heads and ate grass.
Venus entered the mix and turned up the volume by running playfully between Sirius and Wit trying to get them to run with her.

When Wit attempted to oblige Venus and run with her he was soundly reprimanded by big sister Sirius. 
Wit was banished from the 'herd' of two.

Wit ran off a short distance and doubled back toward Sirius and Venus who had resumed eating.

He takes his place a safe distance from Sirius, drops his head and all is well.
He seems to 'get' that he can be this close and no closer.

Venus encourages her sister to have a romp..

And they're off..

Jet and Trinity have been turned out in a paddock next to the three and Wit is staying close to them.

All is calm so I add Jet and Trinity to the herd again.

A strong run around the field jostling for position.

Wit crowds too close to suit the mares..

He is chased off ..

Once again he is being told how far he must stay away from their bubble of biology.
It is important to see that they push him no more nor less than is necessary to make their point.

It may appear to some that Wit is the leader were they not aware of the body language of the mares chasing him, and his body language which says I'm sorry! I won't do it again!

Jet's ears are coming forward while Trin's are still back. Jet is teaching Trinity to turn it off when the result has been achieved. Trin still uses too much force and doesn't know when to quit. Things really settled down nicely at this point. Wit kept his distance and a semblance of harmony was felt.

Venus and Sirius move in to drink and are teaching Wit who is also trying to drink that he must wait until they are finished. He is being patient until he sees Venus coming to drink from Sirius' trough...

Wit's body language shows he is about to make a play for position to be above Venus. He has agreed to stand below Sirius in the pecking order but MUST be above Venus in order not to become the 'wolf bait' member of the herd. 
Wolf bait is the term I use for the low man on the totem pole. 
Every herd has a 'disposable' member whether it be an old, very young, lame, or odd coloured horse. 
This horse would be kept to the outside and rear of the herd. 
Many if not most people with horses are wolf bait although they seem to bristle when I tell them so.

Wit makes his move to claim the right to drink at least with if not before Venus and swiftly chased away by Sirius...and we begin again.

Wit is again told to stay on the outer edge.

A subtle test by Venus..she moves her head toward Wit and he maintains his allowed distance by moving his head away while continuing to graze.

Quiet contented grazing resumes with a few very discreet tests which Wit passes with flying colours.

Trinity grazes, moving slowly in Wit's direction and he matches her movements maintaining his distance.

Jet and Trin are grazing along. 
Jet has her eye on Wit who she senses is becoming impatient to be included and is getting closer.
When Wit picks up the pace Jet commits to swing back.

She doesn't chase him out...she simply makes her point and when he complies she swings back and continues to graze.

Wit, the far seer, is watching movement below....the neighbors are moving and the trucks have caught his eye.

And yet again Wit has moved in too close to the mares without being invited..

Jet 'swings' him away

She gives a good strong swish of her tail as if to say 'and I mean it!'

She watches to be certain he remains.

...and yet again he has mistaken her turning back to graze as an invitation to come closer...

Her 'push' this time is stronger!

This time Jet has had enough of Wit's mildly pushy attempts to be part of the group. She begins a 'cutting' technique which does not alow him any rest stops until he resigns himself to staying a distance away.

The teachings of the herd are far reaching and invaluable. This wise old mare uses only as much force as is necessary to maintain the harmony and integrity of her herd. She is fair. She is firm. She does not hold a grudge. She likes Wit very much and when turned out with him alone she is very kind to him. She is however very protective of her adopted daughters and knows that should he be allowed to rule the roost things would very rapidly move toward total imbalance.