Watching the Herd

How can watching horses interact in a herd help improve my relationship with my horse?

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watching horses
Observe your herd's behavior so you can make management changes based on social dynamics. | Photo: iStock
Q.I’ve read several articles that suggest watching your horse in the pasture for a span of time to learn more about the herd’s social structure and horse behavior in general. I’m excited to try this, but I’m not sure where to start. What are some specific things I should watch for, and can I use these observations help improve my relationship with my horse?

Kristen, via e-mail

A.What a great subject! I think if you sit by the pasture and watch, it won’t be long before you will come up with lots of ideas about horse behavior.

A few things to watch for include the rhythm and duration of alternating periods of grazing and resting and which horses like to stand by which when resting

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Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

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