Yearlings Being Yearlings

It has been many months since I have seen the yearlings. I had been assuming that they were all sticking together, like yearlings often do. These two were spotted, though, recently. They seemed to be alone, or the others could not be spotted nearby; the landscape would be easy to hide in. Only one other yearling has been seen in the last few months but he is running with a band of older horses, he being the only yearling in the large group. This makes me think about a study I read about where the social behavior of young feral and wild horses was observed. The main study was Przewalski horses living in a wild environment. The study found that when living in a herd dominated by horses under four years of age, the yearlings stayed segregated from mature horses and more closely bonded with each other. The fewer adults there were, the more the young horses avoided interacting with them. Conversely, when living in a herd of mature horses, no matter the gender, the young horse’s behaviors changed. The adults played pivotal roles in channeling the aggressive and rowdy behaviors of the immature members in the group. The immature horses bonded more closely and found comfort with an adult rather than their young peers. Perhaps the That Herd yearling group, as a whole, is purposely avoiding running with any older horses, therefore have been harder to locate. Also, it is not uncommon for horses in a natural environment to bond closely with a herd mate born the same year. That seems to be the case for these two colts. The grey colt has been discussed in previous blog posts when he was a foal because of his notable social-awkwardness moments. So, there you have it, yearlings avoiding adults, a yearling influenced by adults, and two closely bonded herd mates, all supporting the conclusions of previously studied equines.

wild horse photography of two yearling colts sticking together
Yearlings tend to stick together, often mirroring each other’s movements, especially when unsure of a new situation.

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