Friday, February 25, 2011

Herd Boss vs Herd Leader

Krinkles and her colt "Tiger" our in front of the herd...
I have to admit, having a "herd" of horses that live on pasture and interact pretty much like nature intended them too, has certainly enlightened me over the years. We all know about the "herd boss" and how that horse can move horses out of its way, usually is the first one to eat and just is generally bossy...and many people try to emulate that behavior in training...

But...the more successful way, is to emulate the "herd leader." Sometimes the herd boss and the herd leader are the same horse. But more often than not...they do not hold both titles. The herd boss, rules with an iron fist..the herd leader, takes no flack off any member, yet rules with a more passive and kinder nature. The herd leader moves the herd. All herd members must have respect for the herd leader, or they will get left behind ( a sad truth that some herd bosses found out the hard way here...LOL ) the herd leader decides where the herd will graze, when they move to water, when they rest and sleep ( and often stands watch ) and when they head to the barn for dinner! The herd leader has the ability to earn the other herd members respect, often with just an ear movement or some other subtle body language. We have had ONE single herd leader since the day we moved here....our herd matriarch, Krinkle Clown. There have been several mares that tried to take her position, often keeping a few horses rounded up for their own little herd, but none have been successful for more than a few days. Eventually, they all return to the herd, and accept that just one, wise mare really knows how to run things. Kudos to you, Krinkle Clown for years of keeping our herd safe. I have even seen this mare return up the hill, to rescue a youngster that took the wrong path and got lost from the herd. She always had a bit of a "I can not believe I have to do this" look on her face, but never the less, she returned to help the youngster out. The fact she has a whinny you can hear for 3 counties helps her out. does this relate to the training of horses and our horse/human relationship. Most folks don't have a herd leader to observe, but if you did, you would learn that body language is of the utmost importance. and...consistency, though hard for some humans, seems to come easy for these herd leader horses. Learn the body language of horses, and be consistent and your herd leadership skills will rise to the top of the herd.....consider it, and put it into practice!


  1. FABULOUS POST!!! I AGREE and loved it!

  2. Wonderful! I've had the pleasure of knowing a herd leader, my first horse, Turbo. You never saw him do much other than flick an ear, and they all listened. Lakota tries to emulate, and has gotten better over the years, but isn't quite there yet.