Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Herd Behavior...or Not

Yesterday's training session was a group activity. Misty and her fellow classmates were flagged while running loose in the arena. The goal was to get them to pay attention to the leaders on horseback and move together as a herd.

There was a little ear pinning and some kicking, but nothing very violent. It reminded me somewhat of a Moonlight Madness sale I went to at the mall years ago. Whether it be a group of equines or women shoppers reaching for the same sweater, there will be some chaos.

Sometimes the horses became unruly students who forgot to work together and weren't paying attention to the teacher.

Misty was definitely not the leader, but here is a moment when they appeared to be playing follow-the-Misty.

Once in awhile they'd huddle in the corner to catch their breath and plot their next move.

Misty was the first one to call it quits. She parked herself at the end of the arena and rested while everyone else kept running around.

Too pooped to party.


  1. What an interesting exercise. You can learn a lot about your horse by observing it in such a group situation. Women shoppers reaching for the same sweater... great image. I know the psychology of women, so if I spot a sweater I really want, I distract their attention by pawing at something else, acting excited, and then while they are busy battling over what I didn't want, I quietly snag the item I did want. There's an art to shopping.

  2. A very interesting exercise! I've never seen anyone do anything like this as a training exercise...can you explain the purpose and why? Just curious!

  3. NuzMuz, I will have to remember your shopping strategy. I had a sweater yanked right out of my hands during that particular sale.

    Jenn, As I understand it, there are many different purposes for this exercise. It depends on the group of horses. For a bunch of colts it could be getting used to moving around with a saddle. Or getting horses used to moving in an arena with horse horses. I want to attend a larger clinic this year and I've been told it is not unusual to get bumped if another horse is unruly when riding with 20 other riders. In this case, all of the horse have issues of some type and it was to get them to pay attention to the human leaders and not run every which way or follow a dominant horse who was resisting the people. I'm told if the group is made up of young colts without issues, they perform much more fluidly. This group was a little scatter brained and several horses were trying to do their own thing or tuning out until they figured out what to do.

  4. I think Misty looks like the smartest one and should go to the head of the class. When she was too pooped to party she simply got out of the way and rested. I'm with her!

  5. I agree Grey Horse. And resting is something they are allowed to do. She is a smart girl; she was also the least fit of all the horses. Ah well, we both need some exercise this summer.

  6. Yep! I'm with Misty too! Interesting photos.

  7. How much fun was that?! I got to experience a similar exercise once... a real eye opener! Great pics!

  8. Thanks jc & Equitaikidoka. It was fun to watch.