The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chloe is Independent

Someone suggested that the other horses are following Chloe because she's the kind of horse which Mark Rashid calls a "passive leader."  Passive leaders are described as
usually older horses somewhere in the middle of the herd's pecking order. They are quiet and consistent in their day-to-day behavior and don't appear to have much ambition to move up the "alpha" ladder.
Chloe is considerably older than the other horses.  She does sometimes become rather cross with Rose, but it's only as a defense when she wants to be left alone, and she never asserts herself for the sake of asserting herself.

The alpha horse, on the other hand is described as
often very pushy, sometimes going as far as using unprovoked attacks on subordinates for the simple reason of declaring their dominance.  As a result of this behavior, the majority of the horses in the herd will actually avoid all contact with the alpha throughout the day.
Certainly no one seems all that keen on buddying up to George, who does sometimes like to make a show of chasing people away from their food before letting them eat.

In our old herd, the alpha mare was a very kind, consistent character, who would let her friends eat from her pile of food and never threw her weight around.  She was also very old and wise.  George, however, (bless his heart) is only about 7 and is a different kind of alpha altogether.

For whatever reason, Chloe is the Pied Piper of the Pasture.

Here she comes with the other horses following after.  Why is she hurrying over?

Whatever she's after, George doesn't want to be left behind.

Ah, she's thirsty, this is what she wants:

Rose and Bridget are just hanging out, waiting to see what's going to happen next.

Tonight in the pasture I was with Chloe, and the other horses went for a drink.  Chloe was quite happy to let them go and stay with me.  But, boy, were they in a hurry to get back to her when they were done drinking. Despite her horse-magnet status, the others still push her around, and she is very sensitive to their presence, moving away when they come near.  I think I've convinced George and Bridget that they're not supposed to actively drive her off when she's with me, but she's not comfortable when they come close.  Tonight I tried something new - when she scuttled off at their approach, I put my hand on her neck and kept pace with her.  I think she kind of liked it.

I often see her standing alone, gazing off into the distance, or heading off on some private expedition, indifferent to whether or not the other horses follow her. It's this quality of independence and courage that made her refuse, for so many years, to cave in and be a "good" pony. Independence, courage and - I dare say - integrity. 


  1. I like that phrase: not caving in and being a 'good' pony. How wonderful that you can let her spirit express itself and not force the 'good' pony issue.

  2. When she doesn't have to be "good," she's able to be cooperative and affectionate.