Friday, April 05, 2013

Calabar--Alpha Mare or disgruntled stallion?

Calabar is very concerned about his herd. Very. Concerned. He is also jealous. Does this make him a stallion--at least in his own mind since he is lacking certain stallion parts--or an alpha mare? My horse psychology is in need of a tune-up in the area of herd-dynamics so I'm not entirely sure.

Calabar in babysitting mode
He watches my every move when it I am with other horses. Other horses besides Lena, that is. When I am with Lena, his ENTIRE focus is on Lena. This is also crossing over a little bit to Dixie, though he wavers between concern for Dixie and jealousy over Dixie when it comes to me--all depending on who is holding Dixie's lead rope.

We saw some of this with his concern over who was riding and handling Lena after the bad person did both badly and the next person came along and had to prove herself worthy before the big brown horse would relax.

I frequently get stared at when handling Dixie or Cash and not his royal Calabar-highness, eyes leveled down between the pipe panel observing with annoyance as I took one or the other out to graze, work or groom.

But last week, when someone else took Dixie out and walked her around--BTM, before the move-- Calabar became over-protective watchful horse. Totally still, totally focused on what this new person might be doing with his little bay mare.

After the recent changes, Calabar is not between his two mares and has only Forrest to watch over and Forrest is often too busy hanging out with the mules behind him, enjoying his wide open, woodsy paddock. Forrest is also pretty sure he does not need supervision from bossy-pants-Calabar.

Last night, I had Clyde in the lower barn pointed out towards Calabar's new paddock. I was picking Clyde's feet and anointing them with iodine when I peered out upside down between my own knees. There was my horse, white crescent moon spot glowing at me as the light outside began to fade because he was facing me, watching me. Every. Move. I. Made.

I had no choice after I put Clyde away but to take Calabar out and work him, play with him, rub his brown head and tell him how much I loved him and that his is still my most favorite big brown ex-racehorse in the entire world. He mostly believed me. It helped that today he did not see ME holding Clyde's lead rope. Nope. Not me. This is not my favorite big brown ex-racehorse, Calabar. YOU are. See? Someone else is leading him around, not me.

Allison and Clyde discussing "the bubble"
It may have helped slightly that Clyde was very interested in what Calabar might have to say about the two ladies up top, but we didn't let them have that conversation.

So, Calabar.. what are Lena's favorite flowers?
Tonight, after adventures with Clyde and Dixie, I took Lena out to let her blow off some steam in the round pen. (Calabar and I romped last night.) Then, thinking it would be nice for them, I took her over to say hello. He whinnied and was very excited. She sniffed noses with him and they said hello before I took her back up top. I had a conversation with someone, gathered up my camera and a few other odds and ends, and went back down to say goodbye to Calabar. Who was a little hot and sweaty. Like he'd run around upset over something. Or some big spotted someone.

It may be only minor consolation to Calabar that Dixie does not like Clyde very much--there is much ear pinning and posturing between them--and made goo-goo eyes at Calabar when she saw him. He saw her and watched us, but did not get quite as excited as when he saw Lena. This of course makes sense since Lena and Calabar have been together for over five years and Dixie is only the newest female addition to the herd.

Hey! I know him! Why is he way down here?
Clyde has yet to be accepted, says Calabar. And if I were to allow an introduction, I'm pretty sure it would look something like this photo below of my big, brown, possessive horse.

Yes, that is Calabar on the left telling Romeo these are his mares. (Manna and me, or at least me.)
So my guess is Calabar is more of a stallion, despite the apparent worry and watchful nature that seem to me to be more alpha mare traits.

Calabar says that he is supposed to be master of the herd and all of these changes have left him quite upset. On the plus side, the changes have also left him more focused and reliant on me, making our training sessions a wee bit more productive.

Guess that makes me the alpha mare, Calabar. I'll take care of you and everyone else, just don't bite anyone. Especially me.


Anonymous said...

Red is very much like that - he has a stall next to Pie, and there are gaps between the boards. Anytime I'm in the stall with Pie, Red's eyes are at the gaps keeping a close eye on him and what I'm up to. When I take Pie out to groom him, Red nickers, and while I'm riding Pie, Red frequently screams for him, and greets him when he comes back. Pie could care less. In the pasture, Red often is found right next to Pie - not always - and will herd him away from other horses from time to time. If Pie comes up to drink, so does Red. And if I want to bring both boys in, all I have to do is lead Pie away and Red comes trotting up to stay with us - even when the horses are on grass. But Red is just fine when I take him away from Pie - no calling or worry. Red could care less about Dawn.

But Red also is very interested in me - if I'm not giving him attention, he will stand at his door nickering to me. But once I've done something with him - groom, ride, whatever, he's content and goes back to eating.

My old gelding Noble, who died several years ago at 30, used to pin his ears and even buck in his stall if I put another horse on cross ties where he could see me - I think he was jealous.

Cindy D said...

Don't you love herd dynamics?

My paint horse Trax watches everything I do. If I turn around to look at him, he turns away real quick, because I am not supposed to know. If I am in the pasture and he is loose he follows me, but if I turn around he goes the other way, so I don't "know". He is a little attached to my old man Danny, who always calls for him. But Trax rarely calls for the other horses. He is a solitary soul.

My other two Killian and Sassy are kind of funny. Killian gets so upset if Sassy is out of his sight. He screams and screams for her, and she never even bats an eye. She is the least herd bound of them all. If she is home and he leaves, she does not call for him.

The other day she found her way into Danny's stall while Killian was out on a ride. When we got home Killian was very upset and paced up and down until she was out of there. Then you could see him scolding her and she was literally hanging her head as if she was sorry. It was so funny. When they are out in the pasture he spends all his time herding her around to make sure she doesn't socialize with any other horses. He thinks he is a stallion too.

javediqbal said...
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