On Sunday there was a new girl hanging out with our herd of oldsters. She may be new to the pasture – at least we hadn’t seen her before. It wasn’t a big surprise to find her there, because newbies often start their pasture life with the old ones. It is a much kinder, gentler herd.

They don’t chase you until you can’t even catch your breath.

They don’t try to kick the you-know-what out of you just because they can.

They are much more accepting.

That is, unless you behave with disrespect.

Then, in the way of wise elders in most cultures, they will remind you of your manners.

That’s what happened Sunday.

We named her Ginger because of her coloring. At first, she had no idea what we were doing with the alfalfa cubes, though she quickly caught on that we weren’t going to hurt her. And those cubes were pretty darned tasty.

For a while she was willing to wait her turn as I handed out treats to everyone else. But then, she became greedy.

Or anxious.

Or pushy.

In any case, she committed the first of several big no-no’s.

She tried to muscle the oldsters around.

She backed up and did a fake kick or two.

She pushed the others out of the way.

And that was it.

Amigo, Red, Baby and Chickadee moved almost in unison away from her.

They stood at one end of the fence line.

Ginger at the other.

She lost the safety and comfort of the group.

They were shunning her, communicating in horse language, “Girl you mad a big mistake.”

Unfortunately Ginger didn’t get it.

When Bud finished eating his grain and we put him back into the pasture, she decided to take him on. She pushed him out of the way at the fence line.

Our sweet old appaloosa seemed surprised at her boldness.

Then it was as if a switch clicked on in him. He took out after this whippersnapper, chasing her around the fence area.

Then for good measure he gave a little kick. He can’t get those legs up too high, but the message was infinitely clear. “You need to show some respect for your elders.”

Ginger backed off, and Bud held his ground.

I’ve said it before – we teach others how to treat us. The wise herd of oldsters just gave me an advanced lesson.


Now I’m wondering if I’ll see Ginger the next time I go to feed. Will she learn to show the proper respect? I hope so, but in the end, it’s her journey.

Like it is for each of us, horse or human.