Our gelding Beau towers over her but his massive size does not intimidate her even slightly. From the very first day we brought them home together, she has been the ruler of his universe. When she got ridden and he was left behind in the pasture (with nine other horses for companionship I might add) he would pitch such a fit that we feared he was going to hurt himself. I, being a complete and total softy at the time, would halter him up and take him to where he could SEE her and he would immediately calm down. Sugar practically rolled her eyes at him as if to say "Silly boy", but you could tell she enjoyed the spell she had over him. Back then she was his whole world. It's been years now. He has found his place in the herd and can survive with her out of sight, but he still adores her and Sugar continues to remind him daily who is in charge.
Beau is susceptible to grass founder, a condition that has painful and possibly deadly consequences. It is brought on by the high levels of sugar stored in seed heads in Spring and Fall. Because of this, Beau's pasture time is limited during these crucial times of year. The daily routine has been memorized by the herd. When it's time for Beau to be released, they are gathered by his gate. When I call for him to come in, no one else rushes the entrance.
However, there is always that herd mate - like that friend of your child's that thrives on mischief - that figures out a way to get them both into trouble. At the C4 Ranch, that little devil goes by the name of Derby. ("The Devil in Derby" may be a future blog title.) Just yesterday I watched from the window as Derby worked for twenty minutes unlocking the latch to Beau's corral. He anxiously observed her skills from inches away and practically danced with Derby when the gate swung open......
She had been grazing a few acres away when she witnessed this great escape. She quickly made her way to the scene of the crime. Both Derby and Beau froze in their tracks when they saw her coming. She scolded them, tossing her head around, and herded Beau back into the coral. Her rear was pointed at Derby in a threatening manner just daring her to intervene! However, the stance was unecessary.Derby's head was already hanging low in shame. Sugar stood guard at the gate until I got out there to lock it again, this time with my extra special Derby-proof loop.
Sugar waited for me to offer my thanks in the form of a hug and a kiss on her graying face and then went back to grazing. I was, as I always am, amazed at her confidence and conviction. She knows her "job" and she does it well. She is mother to our herd and she loves them all with a firm hoof.
Most of us would benefit from going through life with Sugar's philosophies. She pays attention to what those around her need and realizes that what they want is not always what's best for them. She takes care of things quietly and with authority. She demands and gets respect because she operates with common sense as her guide. She is the epitome of an alpha mare.
I, for one, should take to heart the lessons I have learned from observing her. What about you? Are you paying attention?