Every morning when I turn out Curly, Zelda and Andy they perform a complicated and highly ritualistic dance of power around the flakes of hay (and there are many flakes in many piles).
Freedom and Willow are easy. Freedom is in charge so he eats where he wants. Willow understands this. They are perfect pasture mates because there is no conflict. Ever.
Curly is very obliging. She will always defer, always move off and let another horse eat first.
Zelda and Andy are still figuring it out. Mostly Zelda. She loves her food and sincerely believes that is should all belong to her. She’s a horse that will stand over her food pan in her stall and stamp her feet if she thinks another horse is dreaming of eating her breakfast.
There’s no true aggression in their hay dance; it’s actually a very clear demonstration about how horses communicate through posturing.
Here’s how it goes:
Zelda assumes possession of the hay that she wants.
Andy love Zelda so he tries to eat at the hay pile nearest to her.
Zelda responds by pinning her ears, snaking her head and maybe lunging a few steps toward him. Then, she retreats to another pile of hay.
Andy follows her and starts eating next to her again.
Zelda kicks out at the air and gives him the evil eye. She might squeal.
Curly watches the antics from a distance, shakes her head and continues to eat from her own pile of hay.
After three minutes, they all eat quietly.