Friday, 1 February 2013

Dominant, Aggressive or Scared?

A wee while ago, I wrote something on natural behaviour, and used this very unflattering photo of Flynn. Just to annoy his owner, Eileen, here it is again!

Seriously, thought this showed some behaviour worth thinking about. What is Flynn up to here? He’s clearly driving the other horses off their hay, and is looking pretty full-on about it. So, we could say this is dominant behaviour, Flynn is ‘boss’ of those other horses and leave it at that.

But, why is Flynn doing this? Just because he can move the others around if he wants to doesn't explain why he is doing it now. Is he just evil? J. Does he want their hay? Have they been ‘disrespectful’ to him?...

Actually, if you take Benson (far right, concentrating on the serious business of eating as usual) out of the equation, Flynn will share peaceably with the other horses. Also, if you put all 5 horses out in the field with hay you won’t see Flynn doing this. 

Benson has a habit for just going where he wants, when he wants, and everyone else better move. He doesn't overtly threaten, but they all clear a path for him. So, Flynn knows if Benson  comes his way, he’d better move. With several other horses in the yard, I think he is anxious about his ability to move, worried about being trapped between horses. He could leave the yard if he wanted, but being out in the field alone isn't a great option either. So, his ‘dominant’ behaviour is caused by him feeling uncomfortable and unsafe about his situation.

Worth thinking about if your horse tries to move you away, or objects to what you are doing (hopefully not as vigorously as Flynn is doing in this picture!). Have a think about why he’s telling you to back off, then you can address the cause of the problem, rather than just telling him to shut up and behave!

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