Horse pals matter
Horses are stabled in a number of ways when they are turned out, if they are turned out at all. Some horses live alone in a small pen, others have one or two friends, and some live in a large herd. I’ve recently become aware of the impact that herd-mates have on horses. I have a young impressionable horse, so perhaps that is why I’ve noticed it so much. If you have a mature and strong alpha in the herd, it sets a behaviour precedent, and others in the herd become calm and peaceful. If you have an insecure alpha, who acts like a bully, the whole herd will be unbalanced and aggressive. Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, talks a lot about calm-assertive energy in dog packs and I think this also applies to horses – for more on this topic go to http://www.cesarsway.com/.
Many boarders feel a bit helpless when they are at a stable, allowing their horse to go in whatever set up the barn owner suggests. I think that who your horse gets turned out with has a large impact on your horse’s well-being, their stress level, and can even lead to injury if they are not in a balanced herd. It is easy to feel social pressure just to go with the flow, but remember you are the one paying the bills and the consequences of improper turnout will fall on you and your horse, no one else. Trust your instincts.
If you have a young spirited horse, like I do, make sure they are turned out with a good teacher who can keep them in line without becoming aggressive. One who can give them boundaries and confidence at the same time. It will make them good horsey citizens, and will also make your job as your horse’s trainer that much easier.