As is the usual around here, the change of seasons calls for a change in horse management. With the nights getting longer and colder, more feed is set out and soon all the horses will be coming in at night.
The first real change is putting Casper into the paddock with the Geldings. Show season is over, so he can have the time to be a real horse and have horsey relations. I don't know of many stallions that get to do this these days, but I like giving him time to be a horse!
Moving from solitary paddock to big shared paddock is easy. He moves 20 feet, no big deal. But having two buddies to pal/bicker with is a real big deal. Now mind you, Casper is 14.3 hh and about 1000 lbs. The two geldings are 15.2 and 15.3, weighing around 1200 each. They are bigger, but not badder! The first greeting he got was Baybe giving him a nibble and licking (that horse loves to slobber/lick) on his shoulder and his neck, you know, the mutual I groom you, you groom me bit. While Jack on the other hand was not happy about the little white prince coming in to HIS paddock! He turn and planted both hind hooves squarely into Casper's side, knocking him sideways and launching Casper into his "payback" vendetta!
Yep, this is where the little guy ends up beating the crap out of the bigger bully! Since Casper gets regular workouts and has been ridden all summer and spring, he is in very good condition, while Jack works up a sweat moving from one hay feeder to the other. Since Jack is the husband horse, he only has to work when the hubby has a moment to actually pay for some attention!
It was quite a ruckus and it always is every fall.........Casper comes in all calm and cool, ready to make friends and Jack gets all hoity-toity about it! So it was off to the races, Jack running for his life with Casper firmly attached to his neck with teeth! To say I was thrilled, was an understatement! Only a month before, Jack had tried to take my arm off in his zeal to get away from a 20 lb puppy.........yep, I was enjoying the moment of paybacks! Listening to Jack squeal "uncle" to the little stallion was quite rewarding for me. I have no guilt, he is quite haughty and needs taken down a notch or two. He started it, so he could just "deal with it"!!
Yes, Casper ran him for 20 minutes, all the while taking a chunk of hair from just about every part of Jacks ass! Jack was sweating and heaving pretty darn good and Casper was still going to show Jack he would take no crap from him. It is the way of herds.......SOMEONE has to be in charge and it was not going to be the huge, snotty gelding.
After some body slams and hair removal, Casper knew he had made his point. He wasn't out to kill Jack, that was obvious, but he wanted respect and he got it.
Hubby came home that evening, came in the house and had one thing to say......"it must be fall, Jack is missing hair" and back out to tend cattle he went. It is well known here that Jack is thick headed, he can be quite sweet and well behaved, but it is not his nature in the herd to play nice.
Without a head mare, a herd of boys have to fend for themselves or are solitary dinners for a pack of wolves. So, it is best to "go along with the program"!!
Now you ask, why put the horses through this every fall? In the interest of their survival and with snow drifts over 10 feet last year, it is better to heat one water trough, plow snow in one big paddock and them to have companionship. They are horses and they need to have Herd Dynamics in their life, or else they are just pets and lose their instincts. We like horses that can think for themselves. They also tend to be very in-tune to us and we feel having herd time allows them this trait. They also get their quiet alone time every night in their own peaceful stall and they don't have to share their dinner. So it balances out for them and us!
The mares? Well, let's just say they don't go through this, they have to live with Alpha Josey all year. They are just easy going and really laid back. They all know Josey is in charge, so they don't press the issue.