Monday, October 26, 2009

Sniffing Poo and Noble Takes Charge

An elegant title, no?

This morning I was planning to put the geldings out in one of the pastures, while leaving the mares in the larger of the dry lots - we've had so much rain that the pastures are very wet and having the horses in most of them would result in damage. There was one pasture that had drained pretty well by yesterday, and we were planning to use it. So I turned the mares out in the dry lot, and went to look at the aisle to the pastures. We had had more rain last night, and from looking at the standing water and goop that covered almost 1/3 of the mares' dry lot - which is about an acre in size - I suspected the aisle would be very muddy. And unfortunately it was - we've managed to put gravel down part of it, and that part was OK despite the standing water, but the part past there was also water-logged and the mud was deep and very slippery. Not really very good for leading horses, and I expect the pasture wasn't in that good shape either. So the geldings went into the other dry lot.

Now the result of this was that the mares were in the dry lot that had been occupied for several days by the geldings, and vice versa. Since we keep the mares and geldings separated, the horses find occasions like this very exciting, and much sniffing of poo and presumably pee ensued, in both herds. The geldings seemed to be particularly interested. Now Noble, my 29 year old Quarter Horse, thinks he's a lady's man - he always nickers and arches his neck for the mares. He isn't the alpha of our gelding herd - that's Fritz, followed by Joe - but neither of them are very aggressive. Noble apparently felt that, with all that mare scent around, he had to push around the less dominant geldings. First he threatened Fred, swinging his butt, pinning his ears and bucking in place - he rarely actually kicks anyone but he was showing off his stuff.

Then he marched down to Scout and they started playing "face tag", much of it in slow motion. Now Scout is really big - he's at least 16.2 and probably weighs over 1200 pounds, and Noble is at best 15.1 and is really gracile for a QH. Noble would put his face next to Scout's and gently nibble and push, and then bite. This went on for a while, with Noble giving little rears from time to time. Finally Noble decided enough was enough and he lunged at Scout with his teeth bared and ears pinned, and Scout quickly left the scene. Then Noble came to the gate and hung his head over and demanded my attention - I think he was saying "there's nothing left to eat in here", which is true - we need to set the round bale holders soon - but I mollified him with a good neck and withers scratch, and he wandered off to graze the bits of grass that were left.

Hope you have an excellent day, and may it include horses!


  1. Why do you keep the mares and geldings separated at your barn? Do the dynamics just work better that way with those horses, or is there something I haven't heard before about mares and geldings not getting along?

    Panama has always been hot to trot on the ladies, but highly submissive with other geldings. He especially likes bay mares (isn't it funny to think of horses having "types"? LOL) and every one of his girlfriends has been a bay or a dark bay. He doesn't seem to notice the fact that he's too short, either -- at 14 hands, maybe 14.1, it's surprising the girls take him seriously at all. :o)

  2. Katharine - We keep mares and geldings separated both for practical and safety reasons. Practically, we do intensive rotational grazing in small (around 1 acre) pastures, and a herd size of 5 to 6 works well for this - so if we split the ladies and gents, we end up with two herds. Also, since our pastures are small, the horses are in a smaller area than they might be in a larger pasture - so there are more interactions. Since our mare herd is much younger than almost all of our geldings - the mares range in age from 12 to 15, and all of the geldings but one are over 20, and 3 are over 25 - the mares tend to be much more rambunctious. Our older geldings might be injured if they played as hard as the mares do. And then there's mares in heat - it's not all that unusual for a mare to injure a gelding who shows undue interest - and we'd just as soon keep injuries to a minimum. That said, it's certainly not unusual to see horses in mixed herds, and this can work fine.

  3. I love spunky old boys! They're so cute.

  4. It's raining hard here, too, and the wind is really slamming it against the house and barn.

    I don't separate my current herd, but I used to have a gelding who would mount the mares and get kicked to high heaven--so he always had to be separated. But when they were separated, they'd take down fence to get to each other other!!

    The current herd does fine together.

  5. My herd of three is too small to worry about and, of course, they are all boys. I have no idea what might happen if a mare should join the bunch. Toby has, in the past, shown some fairly dominant behavior so I'd worry a bit about him.

    I hate the mud. Seems to be starting early this year...actually some of it hasn't really dried up over the summer. Winter does not bode well.

  6. Amazing what some poo and piddle will do. I bet that was quite funny to watch. With just two horses, there is only a small amount of poo sniffing going on. And it is always the mare doing the sniffing. So unlady like.

  7. The dreaded rain. We are getting a lot of that too. It just won't stop. But I didn't expect any different! I just hate what it does, all that mud, I feel so bad for my horses.
    Most barns I know of keep mares and geldings separate for safety reasons. My mom's barns has separate mare and gelding pastures.
    I keep my 2 girls in a pasture, and my sisters boy goes in his own pasture, and my filly gets her own pasture. It works out great. Plus it is easier for me to monitor feeding time, and making sure every one gets the right amount. Although down the road when my filly is older, I might put her in with Brandy and put Fritzy in her own pasture, she is the dominant mare, and it would do her good to be on her own, that way Brandy can get some peace from the brat. LOL!

  8. Kate, the age differences seem like a really good reason to separate the horses. Panama is with a couple of old cranksters right now and I'm sure he'd be much happier with a younger horse to play with.

    I had no idea there was so much concern with turning geldings and mares out together, though. At my second barn, the horses all paired up when the mares went into heat for the first time in the spring (except for Panama, who shared his girlfriend with another gelding). No one seemed to mind much. And at the last barn we were at, he and the alpha doted on the same mare.

    Panama loves the ladies, and usually they love him, but he's submissive enough that if they don't (as with the sourpuss he's in with now) he stays away.

  9. I have certainly seen more than one gelding who definitely thought he was still a stallion when mares were in season! Mixed groups often work well but it is amazing how a very docile gelding can become very studdish (and I mean more than just prancing around) when one of 'his' mares is in season. I have done mixed groups in the past and have one now, but it does take the right group of horses for it to work IME.

    Sounds like Noble was feeling like a frisky young man today - good for him!

  10. Melissa -- there used to be a gelding at my old barn who would mount his girlfriend and try to go at it. It was most definitely welcomed on her part. :o)

    Panama, on the other hand, gets physically excited sometimes but has no idea what to do with it. It's a bit embarrassing actually. He and a girlfriend were once grooming one another and getting rather excited. She turned and got into position... and he walked off. He's such a tease!


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