When the Herd Moves, Who Leads and Who Follows?
In free-ranging and feral horses, for example, no single individual is consistently the group leader. Instead, an egalitarian social organization appears to be the rule, with any number of horses making decisions and coordinating group movement,1,2 and with relatively little competition or aggression.3
A recent study by Lea Briard, BSci, MSci, PhD, and colleagues,4 “How stallions influence the dynamic of collective movements in two groups of domestic horses, from departure to arrival,” explored what, if any, influence the stallion has on collective movement of the herd. They found that, although the stallion rarely initiates group movement, he does appear to play a unique role in from the rear position by keeping stragglers in line and maintaining vigilance.
Who initiates group movement?
To study collective movement, Briard and her colleagues observed two semi-free-ranging herds of domestic horses in eastern France. The groups were similar in size and composition: one herd included a stallion, nine mares, and eight foals, and the second herd included one stallion, twelve mares, and eight
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