Changing herd behavior
We have a 10 month old that has turned from the supreme of submissive to challenging EVERYONE, including the herd boss. It's mainly at the presence of food, she'll actually go bite and gnaw on them, and they look at her like "seriously, are you kidding?" My fear is that they will get irritated with this and hurt her. What surprises me, is that this is out of the blue. One day very passive and the next whammo, aggressive - and it seems to be getting worse as she gets away with it. Absolutely wonderful toward people, very respectful - it's just as though all of a sudden she wants to work up the pecking order and has no idea how small she is!
Has anyone had them turn over night like this? Did you just let the herd dynamics sort themself out?
If you can, spread the hay out so they can all get away from each other. If you feed round bales, put more than one in their field. That being said, they all need to learn "their place" in a group dynamic.
They don't stay little forever. And "teen" behavior not always pretty, in horses or humans! If you want to ensure no one will be hurt, feed some separately. Otherwise they will obviously have to work things out and you may wind up with someone getting injured.
If I let my horses eat the way they think they need to eat, they'd be dead of lami!
I don't have answers for you but I will share a story of my now 3yo to maybe help ease your mind. When Cupcake was 2 weeks weaned I sold her colt buddy. It was out of the blue and I was a little scared as now I only had older mares for company in a well established herd. Stella is the boss but she does so with class. It's a very orderly bunch including the ever pushing boundaries Abba. Stella doesn't tolerate none sense but she also keeps things even and quiet. So when Cupcake started going out with her and Heidi I was worried. Cup has always been a bit bolshy and sure of herself. Stella used to let her eat from her pot. Something she doesn't tolerate from her own children and definitely not the older ones. I kept thinking this would turn into a disaster. As Cup got older and stronger, Stella was a bit more firm with her. A bit more firm turned into these are the rules and you must follow. But this was gradual. Now as a bigger stronger 3yo, Cup does not push bounds and firmly knows her place. Stella is also her go to mare when she has pushed the bounds with the other mares. It's quite comical actually.
So to be fair, I realised just what a keeper and important part of my herd Stella is. She will probably never have another foal but I really need her for more than having babies. I couldn't have Abba in company without her. If Abba can walk all over something she will never stop. Both Stella and Heidi can put a stop to anything Abba may wish to deal out.
And as I realise that what I'm writing is total hokey crap, I know that the herd works. Knocking on wood here but I've had very little issues and no injuries with the herd the way it is. So I just let them do what they do as horses and just do my part of keeping them safe in their environment. I've been amazed over the years of things I've seen going on between the horses. I won't share them as I'm already loopy enough!
So no real advice but maybe the mares are doing something similar in your situation.
I am hopeful you are right, that the herd will gently straighten her out. We have hay out in the pasture 24/7 and oddly that is not an issue at all! They come in at night into stalls and it's at the gate she's turned into the little savage. They know it's feed time, it's the battle for who comes in first. She used to stand off to the back and wait patiently and come in last. Now, especially to the non-alpha's, she's trying to act like a bad a**. In all honesty she HAS probably worked her way up the totem pole a notch or two. But when I see her trying to bully the alpha.....1400 lbs vs 700 or so. I guess what was most odd to me was the sudden onset. It's like she woke up one morning and said, well, time for me to start being a bully!
Mine come in at night too. I've never had gate barging. It varies everyday who comes in first. They line up in the chosen order for that day. They all wait patiently. It has nothing to do with anything I've taught them! As a matter of fact yesterday my husband walked in with Stella(the boss) first and I was like, "what's wrong with her?". Normally she waits away from the gate and comes in last daily. John was like I don't know but she was first in line and no one questioned her!
I think she should be fine. The mares are so much more clever than we give them credit for. I think in time they'll give her some gentle reminders. Mares have been my greatest teachers both in and out of the saddle. They really are amazing.