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New Horse behavior with a herd

Franklin -

I just found your site today and, WOW! I wish I would have found it earlier. Tons and tons of extremely helpful information. My question is regarding introducing a new horse to a "herd" (if 2 can be considered a herd). We have a 12 year old Appaloosa gelding and an 11 year old Appaloosa mare. The gelding is definitely the head honcho, and is in every group he has been in. We have just recently purchased a little 16 year old quarter horse cross gelding for our 8 year old daughter and he is wonderful. However, when we finally introduced the new gelding to the other two horses, the 12 year old gelding was a terrible bully. The mare was curious and wanted to investigate the new guy but the 12 year old refused to let her near him. He chases, kicks, and bites at him at seemingly every occasion, especially at feeding time. My husband has haltered the 12 year old and worked him in the pasture when the 16 year old is around and as long as he is out there he is fine. I feel so sorry for the 16 year old. He is a full hand smaller and is definitely at the bottom of the pecking order. As we plan to ride all 3 of them together (at some point in time, hopefully sooner than later), is there anything you can suggest to make this as safe as possible for everyone, two legged and four legged, alike?

Again, thank you for your help! Cathy

HI Cathy,

More than one horse is a 'herd'. Even one horse with one human is a 'herd'. What I would do is begin to work these horses together more. In other words, do more ground work with them all. Have two tied to a rail or something while you work one, then do another and then the other. This gets them used to seeing each other being handled by you. Ride each individually around and near the others. If the one you are riding gives a problem correct it by putting the horse to tight circles around an inside leg. You really do need to do ground work with all of them. Lounge them one at a time in the pasture. If you have the skill, lounge two at once. This will get them working as a team. This would be very beneficial if you know how. If you have a round pen or a paddock, put all three in and gently just keep them walking or trotting around together. If you keep them moving together for a little while they will not mess with each other. I can coach you through any of this via the telephone if you think that would help. Anyway, if you become proactive with all three by doing as I have suggested, things will settle down to a routine pretty fast. They would probably work it out without your intervention. But not without a lot of biting and kicking the new horse more. Good Luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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