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Please decode this herd behavior for me....

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  • Please decode this herd behavior for me....

    My gelding has a habit of getting spooked and tying up. That we have dealt with, diagnosed (PSSM) and work around. He stays quiet for the most part.

    BUT when he does tie up, he paces his buddy around. Head low and pushes him around with his nose. Non-stop. At a walk. When I seperate them (I just split their paddock in half with electric) all pacing ceases and he quiets down. What is that all about? I would think he would get worse without his submissive buddy.

    Any thoughts?

    BTW-this is my Saturday . Dealing with it as usual.
    Gone gaited....

  • #2
    A horse who is tied up will not move, the reluctance to move is the classic sign that you probably have a horse who is tied up. If he's moving of his own accord, he is probably not tied up. I would look elsewhere for the source of his problems. Getting "spooked" is not normally a reason for tying up either, excessive exercise after a day's rest on a fit horse is the most usual reason. The PSSM changes this, but I am not sure how. You probably know more about the PSSM than I do.

    Atravet will help open blood vessels in muscles if it is a tie up case, as well as the psychological effects of relaxation.

    This does not sound like a very happy horse.


    • #3
      He may possibly feel vulnerable because he is hurting. In his mind as long as he can remain in control of the other horse, he may feel safe that the other horse will not take the opportunity because of his weakness to challenge him for dominance.
      Last edited by Percheron X; Mar. 21, 2010, 01:57 PM. Reason: spelling


      • Original Poster

        After a year of dealing with this, we know stress does lead to tying up. Plus, PSSM does cause tying up symptoms without work.

        You're right, definitely not happy. But, we are making progress. It's just bizarre to me that removing his pal makes him stop and rest. The pal is as submissive as they come and they have a very close relationship.

        Today he is quiet.

        I agree, he was probably hurting.
        Gone gaited....


        • #5
          So I'm very interested in this post. Particularly in the horse possibly in pain pushing the other horse around to enforce his dominance while he feels vulnerable. I was just trying to figure out a similar situation I witnessed today (not to high jack the thread, but to see if this may be a common behaviour). My 22 year old gelding(J), who screams bloody murder if the herd leader (T) even puts his head near J, began pushing T up the corral and into the barn.
          I've been thinking J seems off lately, and he'd been out for a short ride earlier in the day. About an hour later, they all came down to see if I was giving out treats (I wasn't, I was feeding the chicken) and J began to bite and push at the T. Since J is a 13.3 pony and T is a 15.3 Belgian/Fjord cross, I couldn't imagine what would lead him to push his luck.
          Weirdly enough, T was very obedient and allowed J to push/drive him all the way back up and into the barn.
          Is the behavior Manyspots noted fairly common? Can it be a predictor of pain? In my case the herd roles are reversed, why would the leader allow a subordinate member to push him around? Love to see more info on these behaviors.
          Thanks Manyspots for bringing this up and giving me something to think about when I see this.


          • Original Poster

            I'm hoping some arm chair horse psychologists will chime in! I haven't been able to figure out why this happens ONLY when my guy is having issues. Otherwise, he's pretty much a loner. He is leader, but NEVER exerts his dominance in this way unless something is up.
            Gone gaited....