A social hierarchy is natural within a horse herd. The group needs a leader! This lead horse will naturally get to eat and drink first. In the wild, this position is usually filled by an alpha mare. On occasions, you’ll find a horse who is aggressively bullying the other members. There could be a number of reason as to why!
Why Do Horses Bully?
- They want to establish their rank.
- This horse may be resource guarding, especially if food is limited.
- They’re bored or restless.
- Some may be in pain, which can alter their behavior.
- Their past experiences within a herd. They might have been injured by another horse in a traumatic event.
- They didn’t receive proper social skills as a youngster.
How To Fix The Problem
There are a few tactics you can attempt to ease the bullying. First, make sure your paddock is big enough to comfortably support the number of horses you have in it. They need plenty of space to get away from each other.
Additionally, ensure your herd has access to an ample amount of food. Keep hay piles or nets scattered throughout the paddock. This will allow each horse plenty of space to eat alone and not feel threatened.
It can be helpful to exercise the bully on a regular basis. Pent-up energy can cause a horse to act out! You can also add enrichment activities to your step up. A Paddock Paradise Track System will encourage movement and offer natural obstacles like logs, hills, and water features.
Depending on the severity, this horse may need to be separated from the herd. You will occasionally come across these aggressive horses that need to be kept in their own paddock or with just one other horse. It can be helpful to rotate the herd members and see which ones get along better.
Hopefully with these ideas your herd will start to get along better!