You don’t have to watch a herd of horses for long to notice that there’s a distinct pecking order One horse will push another away from food with his ears back and his neck swinging. The other horse will move away quickly to show he’s not a threat. The dominant horse controls what the herd values—food, water, shade, shelter, or even the best spot to roll. The herd relies on a linear hierarchy to estab- lish leadership and order.
One horse (the alpha) is at the top of the rankings, and all other horses fall into
line behind him. No two horses in a herd are equals.
Leadership Over Dominance
Matching human personalities to horses’ positions in the herd can help create the
best partnerships. Most riders get along best with horses that are in the middle of
the pecking order—not the alpha horse or the omega horse.
An alpha horse requires a strong leader who will not back down if challenged.
Identify where your
horse sits in the herd
hierarchy to be his
BY JULIE GOODNIGHT WITH
That doesn’t mean that you have to
be mean to work with an alpha horse,
but you must be consistent and have
If you know that you’re a passive
person, don’t choose an alpha horse.
And if you’re a rider who has a strong
personality, don’t pair yourself with
an omega horse that may feel bullied.
Many times the bully horses are
the beta, or second in command,
horses. They don’t have true leadership ability, but they wish they were
the bosses. They challenge the alpha
horses daily—and can be the horses
that test their riders most often.