View Full Version : Calling All People With Horse Knowledge!

02-01-2009, 03:05 AM
I'm writing a story called Khaladin (nearly done, yeah! :hooray:) and I need some help.

In this story I am trying to make my unicorns (it is a unicorn story) very horse-like. I have a herd with a lead stallion. But there is a scene (well, two, actually) where the herd is galloping without said leader and Khaladin (uni) kinda takes over without realizing it. Instinct kinda kicks in and the others just follow him.

Is this true for horses? How do wild horses choose thier lead stallion? I know most times two males fight, but are there any other ways it can be done?

Thanks to all! :D

Brutal Mustang
02-01-2009, 03:13 AM
Wild horses don't choose their lead stallion; the stallion chooses them, by tyrannically overthrowing the last stallion in a battle which often results in death of the other horse.

As for the actual movement of the herd, a bossy mare usually dictates where they go, and when they drink and all that. Wild horses actually have more of a matriarchal society, than patriarchal.

The boss mare worries about the domestic concerns of the herd, like food, water, travel plans, and predators. The lead stallion worries about keeping the herd together and away from other stallions (he also worries about predators right along with the matriarch).

02-01-2009, 03:22 AM
Yup- what Brutal Mustang said- The stallion breeds and collects mares, the alpha mare is the real boss of the herd.
The lead stallion has to fight to keep his job, he is constantly being challenged by young stallions that are either rougue or part of a bachelor herd (A group of young stallions that group together after being kicked out of their birth herd) The stallion will sometimes goe without eating for days just to protect and maintain his herd. It is not likely an untried male would just lead in a time of trouble- the instict that would most likely kick in would be that of 'flight or fight' and with horses being prey animals flight would be the instinct they would listen too when spooked.

02-01-2009, 03:51 AM
Wild horse behavior varies slightly from time of year and location, but is basically as described. Usually when moving, the lead mare is in the lead, with the stallion bring up the rear, which is the point of danger.

During spring (breeding season), stallions are very focused on the competition. There have been many instances where a wild stallion will focus on fighting another male and ignore a real danger to the herd.

Also be aware that a wild stallion is hyper-alert. Horses notice things at a long distance and a stallion even further. A wild stallion will easily notice another male at over a mile distance.

Only way I'm aware of to change the equation is putting the male in the chop shop.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

02-01-2009, 04:24 AM
Methinks that if you can have a unicron, you can have it take over a herd.

Being herd animals, horses are driven, not led. The stud drives. Highest ranking mare is at the lead. Sounds like your uni has a pair, so let him get on with boss mare and not poke anyone's eye out with his horn.

02-01-2009, 05:13 AM

The lead stallion doesn't actually lead the herd. He follows the herd and makes sure no one falls behind. The lead mare is the one the leads the herd to all the best grazing spots, water, shelter, etc. I don't know of many herds that are all mares, but if something was to happen to the lead stallion I'd say the other stallions would immediately begin to fight for the title. Stallions of bachelor bands might even steal the mares. Most of the time the two males fight, yes that's how it's typically done.

Why is there a scene with the lead stallion is gone? I don't think lead stallions leave their herds willingly.

02-01-2009, 07:15 AM
Well, here's the "bit" (pun intended) on the story. Khaladin is only half unicorn. His father is the lead stallion of the Unicorn Herd and his momma is Penny, a Saddlebred. Khaladin is not in the same world as his father and lead stallion has to leave the herd to find his lost herdmates (think the Biblical story of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep for the one). So, there's no lead mare. Lead stallion does tell his son that he will (maybe) one day take over the herd. I won't go into those details....they're not important.

So, is it even possible for me to make this situation even remotely like horses? I mean, I have a uni who will take over if Khaladin doesn't, but his temper is too mild for him to fight lead stallion....he respects him too much.

Thanks for all your help, guys! I REALLY appreciate this!! :D

02-01-2009, 08:06 AM
With no stallion, and with the lead mare gone, the herd would definitely be a little more flighty than usual. If one of them started to run, the others would be likely to follow. It wouldn't necessarily be a question of leadership, but of herd mentality.

02-01-2009, 10:33 AM
If you want a great to see wild horse herds in action I recommend watching Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies, it is great show all about mustangs, plus all the mustangs are gorgeous. Or you could even check out your local library for books on wild horse behavaior.

I notice I didn't get here soon enough.... (oh bother!) Just great one time my horse knowledge is I'm too late. oh well....

Might I recommend some wonderful series' on unicorns called the Firebringer Trilogy, Unicorns of Balinor, or even The Last Unicorn?

02-01-2009, 11:34 PM
Ooh, Unicorns of Balinor is my FAVORITE! I love that series...except the ending was really wierd for me. I want to read the Firebringer Trilogy (heard it's great), but I can never find it.

I saw part of that Cloud documentery and it was really good. I do need to go back to the library. Thanks for recommending that! :D

02-03-2009, 03:28 PM
Colts typically leave the herd once they're conceivably a threat to the boss stallion. It's not really a situation where the stallion brings up his successor--any potential rival has to be driven off and kept away. As soon as they're big and strong enough, they start trying to gather their own herds. Sounds like you want these unicorns to be more like humans than horses.

If the horses/unicorns panic and run, they will tend to stay together. The direction will be away from the threat rather then towards anything in particular--and if a new threat appears ahead of them, they'll run from that, too, in a new direction. That's how horses get corralled.

02-04-2009, 08:03 AM
Well, maybe herd-wise they can't be like horses. If they are, I lose a major bit of my plot and one that those who've read it love. But I have written unicorns more human-y than these. I guess we'll just see how it goes. :)

Thanks! :D