View Full Version : Boys vs. Girls: Behaviour or Personality?

Feb. 8, 2010, 05:15 PM
This has been cracking me up all winter...

I have two small winter paddocks, next to each other, that share the heated water tank. Bachelor herd in one--Sr. stallion (15) gelding son (6) and jr. stallion (rising 3)

Next to them I have the girls: Blue Eyed Medicine Hat (9), SillyFilly(just turned 5) and Blue Eyed Blonde(TM) (rising 3)

Since we have so much snowpack, I have to lug hay from the roundbale at end of driveway, to the paddock, as I can't back truck down there.

This is the behaviour displayed:

Boys: Stallion gets all fussy and bares teeth at and makes threats to the other two boys. Occasionally Rain isn't bright enough to MOVE, and gets some hair missing. Lugh (jr. stallion) never actually gets caught, he's a little brighter. But Himself runs around looking evil and acting starved.

Put hay in: Himself makes one last 'mare face,' then picks his pile. Within seconds, all three boys are sharing the same pile, even though there are three. They also will share grain or beet pulp out of the same dish. Once the feed is there, they share.

Girls: Stand patiently, often without even a nicker or whinny, as they know the boys get fed first. Wait patiently for me to make three piles...

THEN chaos ensues. For the next 5-10 minutes there is all sorts of shuffling, evil faces, kicking, ducking, and general nastiness. Finally everyone settles on their own pile. Later, two-against-one, the SillyFilly and the Blue Eyed Blonde(tm) ineveitably chase the Blue Eyed Medicine Hat mare off...

The final observation that blows my mind, is that I have often found the Medicine Hat standing over (closely) the other two when they are sleeping, as if she is on watch, or protecting them. Which would *seem* to be the opposite of the low mare, no? Or is it the low mare's task to stand watch?

IS this a boy vs. girl behaviour thing? Or just the individual personalities?

I find it so fascinating to watch them... I never really saw how opposite their behaviour was before because hay was free choice off the round bales. A squabble here and there, but not this so clearly opposite behaviour...

Feb. 8, 2010, 07:50 PM
I vote for individual personalities.
We have had all kinds of interactions, depending on who is pastured with whom.

On the watching over the sleeping ones, the one at the bottom does most of the watching here, while the others sleep and when that one finally gets down and starts sleeping, the others get up and leave, so that one gets less sleep than others.
Such is life at the bottom.

Feb. 8, 2010, 10:07 PM
I would vote boy/girl. I see girls fight and shuffle and argue way more than boys.

Feb. 8, 2010, 11:48 PM
I vote boy/girl thing too. I hate to think it is true in all speices (Ie: human), but I see it in goats too - the boys all calmly eat from the same pile - the girls are SOOO annoying - not sharing, one switches, and they all switch etc... It's the amount of drama that goes along with the food dish/pile fights that bugs the heck out of me.

Cattle, on the other hand - they seem to all be content just pushing thru whatever gets between them and food, regardless of what is in the way (as in members of their herd, fences, humans etc...). and I don't see a difference between males and females.


Feb. 9, 2010, 12:43 PM
Interesting. I've had both mares and gelding that were willing and unwilling to share food piles. And I've seen both create feeding time drama.

Years ago, I had two Arab geldings who were practically attatched to the hip, and they'd go in the same stall together, and eat out of the same hay piles or feed pans. Actually, the one would take a bite, pick his head up to look around while he chewed, and the other would slide the feed pan out from under him, and then eat out of it until the first one walked over and put his head back in. It was hilarious to watch. After one of them passed away, the oldest was willing to share hay with my youngest mare, but eventually decided he wanted her out of his grain bucket.

My Belgian draft gelding used to be willing to share his food, just didn't seem to care much what else was going on as long as he was chewing, but these days he's much more defensive about it.

The oldest mare I have is willing to share with anyone she doesn't feel threatened by, but will get the heck out of dodge as soon as anyone even looks at her funny.

Middle mare has a huge personal space bubble whether or not food is involved. Does not share food and hardly ever indulges in mutual grooming. Likes to herd her pasturemates.

Youngest mare is everybody's friend. Willing to share food, wants to stick her nose in everyone's business, wants to groom and be groomed.

Feb. 9, 2010, 02:58 PM
I'm going with individual dynamics. In my boy pasture they wait quietly most of the time, get fed in their respective buckets, eat from their own pile, and don't bother each other.

In my mixed herd (3 girls and their guardian gelding, aka The Boss) The Boss gets fed whatever and wherever he wants (or so he thinks and I have to convince him daily that he has to go to HIS spot for HIS food and stealing from girls is not very gentlemanly of him) Then boss mare makes mean faces if anyone LOOKS at her while she's eating, and finally the older (18 & 20 yrs old) girls eat their grain, see if the other one needs any help eating thiers, helps each other eat their hay piles (while the pony squeals occasionally, they still share).

Feb. 9, 2010, 04:07 PM
Individuals. I've seen any of this stuff happening with any group dynamic. Its all about heirarchy with the group that exists at the moment. Add one more horse in, and the whole dynamic could change, and the low man horse might act out on the newcomer and become "one of the gang" which bullies the new horse.

Even in stable groups, its always changing depending on what they are doing and the weather and the health of them all etc.