Leader or Boss?

Festive Grassy Munchies all!

When I’m not being prepared by my human Kat for life as a trail riding horse, I’m having an altogether pleasing time just being a horse, with my pals in our field.  

The field is a large space and there are 5 of us in our little herd. There is an accepted hierarchy.  I appear to be No 4, second to the bottom (I’m working on this). 

What it means is there are 3 others who are allowed to eat the haylage before me and to move me out of their way.  Or any way they feel like actually.  I feel very smug when Kat comes into the field and moves them out of MY way.

Anyway, it’s a work in progress and my extreme hairiness is a good disguise for my true wily and tenacious nature. You remember the grand theft hay cob incident don’t you? Say no more. I will be No 3 by the time I’m 6.

As there is one below me, there is hope.  Although, Tiger is the only male of the field so it could be argued he is taking his rightful place.   

Macy and Tiger – who appears to be practising his under-hay breathing. I’m squeezing in on the haylage action at the back there.

Cassie is very much the Leader of our group, with Gilly her close No 2.

Cassie with her No 2

A Leader horse is very different to a Boss horse.  Leaders are intelligent and use minimal effort to make us ‘want’ to do as they ask and to follow them.

Boss horses, on the other hand, are dim-witted and heavy-hoofed.  They make a real song and dance about ‘ordering’ us to do what they command and to follow their bossy lead. Or else.

It’s easy to tell the difference.  Even a human could probably spot this one.

Leaders just give us ‘that’ look and we understand what we need to do.  A Boss horse will create a right old rumpus over the smallest thing.  They will charge at us, ears pinned back, teeth bared to bite our retreating bums.  Even worse, run us a ragged 10 laps round the field, just to move us away from the haylage.   It’s all very brash and unnecessary.

The main problem with Boss horses though is they’re using up all their energy to put on this hullabaloo of a show.  The question we then ask as a herd is how much energy will they have left when they need to lead us into a flight or death situation?

The Leader horse who uses little energy to get us to do what they want, generally earns the respect as the intelligent, trustworthy Leader. The one we feel confident and safe in following. The one we know will have unstoppable energy to help us all hot-hoof it if a lion came calling. 

Cassie fills this role pretty well.  She is another wise old lady with plenty of years under her fetlocks.  

Echo used to tell me about Murray who was the out and out Leader from the moment he stepped one of his long, black, aristocratic limbs into the field.  He only had to saunter past the other horses and they were putty in his hoofs.  Secretly, I think all the females were up to their forelock in deep swoon. 

This is Murray – deep swoon or what?

Humans can get annoyed with their horse if they are a bit lazy out on the trail or in the arena.  Little do they realise they might have a highly intelligent Leader horse as their partner, conserving vital energy in-case they need to high tail it in the opposite direction to something intent on a horse/human sandwich for dinner!

It’s grass for thought actually. Perhaps I’m a bit too keen on my training sessions…

We of course prefer to have a Leader horse in charge rather than a Boss horse.  Same goes for our humans.  We like quiet but clear and considerate requests that make us feel safe, confident and happy.  Much nicer than a loud, flappy, angry, order, thank you very much.   

I haven’t experienced much loud flappyness from Kat yet, although she did get a bit cross the other day while she was cleaning my feet.  I was convinced that with a little effort, and on 3 legs, I could reach those hay cobs in her zipped pocket. I did hear her muttering something about NO more hay cobs for you Mrs. Might have blown that one.

Until next time, soggy grassy munchies

F x

Soggy grassy munchie heaven

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