Maybe I could watch herd behavior all day until my hunger knocked from the inside and dragged me away. Gwinny went to her new herd yesterday morning. I skipped my favorite yoga class to be able to observe the interactions of the horses. Kira was strapped to my back so she could see and touch the horses, and she called out to “princess” the white pony the whole time. She’s in love with that one.
Gwinny was put out under the canopy of many trees, over rocky terrain with all the other mares. I like it that she can go into deep shade since she’s almost black and will absorb the heat more than a light horse. When she went through the gate four other mares stopped what they were doing and came straight for her to investigate. She gave a little back kick and escaped to the other side, not terribly social of her. She told them keep your distance, and she held her own, but mostly she stayed by herself all day. One brown horse got too friendly in her hind quarters and she up and kicked with both legs hard on the other horses rump, which produced a squeal and a return kick on Gwinny. I have to believe that must produce quite a sore bruise. There is an alpha mare out there and she runs the social order. She was hyper running around and bossing everyone, nostrils flaring and snorting. There was clearly tension in the herd because there was a new mare in the fold. Gwinny kept her distance and I have a feeling she’s going to hold her own out there, but I’m not convinced yet that she’ll ever be relaxed in a group of mares. That could just be projection on my part because I’m not one who is relaxed in a group of “mares”. I tend to run in the other direction when women start gathering themselves up for some socializing without the men. I think in a herd of mares I would be just like Gwinny, I’d hold my own and kick if I have to but mostly stay off to the side and mind my own business. But that can get lonely, even a horse needs a friend, so we’ll see if she makes one, if not maybe she can try another herd.
I have given up on fitting into the “mare’s pasture” and found other herds that welcome me without fuss and friction. Some women can just be that way and I don’t have the emotional energy to give towards that nonsense. For example, women will begin to gossip straight away, and sometimes it is disguised under the umbrella of “please pray for”. And there are passive aggressive women who are so kind and sugar sweet face to face, but will go around and make life miserable and remain anonymous, but everyone knows what she’s doing. I could never lead a women’s ministry at a church, just the thought makes me shudder. With that said, I don’t mind being in charge if the need arises, but I don’t have to be in charge to do a good job in a group.
I’m definitely more of a loner reading my books, tending to my children, tinkering in my garden, working with animals, and devoting myself to the cause of children with great needs. I do have many good friends and women I enjoy so much, but it is usually in a one to one situation. Perhaps I’m just mostly uncomfortable in a crowd. Yes, that’s it. (see, I’m still figuring myself out)
I remember all those years of being the third wife in the LaTorre family, a big boisterous reunion full of women whom I dearly tenderly love. But I came from a small broken family and we never had to work through dynamics that I had to maneuver in this big family. It took me many years to know how to find my place in that herd and be authentically myself, not a threat, or a burden, but a valued member. That’s been possible because our “alpha mare” is so amazing, kind, fair, and firm about family.
I know some day I will have to be alpha mare in my own family’s reunions. The four of my boys are going to have wives, and Kira is going to have opinions about these women and I’m going to be the one to smooth out the tension and make it a loving fair atmosphere. I wipe the sweat from my brow right now just thinking about that job. I believe with God all things are possible. (hold onto the promises when life makes me nervous)
The owner of the barn yesterday explained to me that the herd dynamics follow the leadership qualities of the alpha, and a fair horse won’t tolerate fighting in the herd, and requires everyone share the water trough and hay bale. But a nasty leader might guard the water and not share just to be a bully. Well this happened once among her horses, and finally the other five horses gathered in the corner and had what looked like a serious conference, then went over to the alpha, and ganged up on him, kicked him straight into submission and out of his position.
It is up to me to decide what sort of alpha mare I will be for my daughter-in-laws in our family. I can do this in a way that honors God, and gains respect, and promotes love. Truthfully, those women are out there, and I pray for them even now before I know who they are.
Around two o’clock in the afternoon, after a ride with Gunner (still practicing my canter) I went to check on Gwinny, she came straight to me at the gate to say hello, and she was tense. I haltered her up, and led her to the rail, tied her and groomed her for a bit. She was uptight that’s for sure. I decided it was enough social tension for one day and returned her to her stall. I could almost hear her exhale a great sigh of relief. I told her, she’s going to have to find her place in a herd, there’s no way of getting around that.
Later that night Andie was going to ride her again so Kira and I appeared to see how she did. Everyone at the barn was cooing over her cute face, big quarter horse butt, and adorable trot. Look at this cute little jump she did over a cross rail. (I’m about to go ride her in two hours! Can’t wait!)