When I went out to feed yesterday, eight horses were in the front pasture. That included Victor and Levi. I brought the horses in and I noticed that someone had beaten the living shit out of Victor. He had bite and kick marks all over him, especially on his neck. That has never happened before. All the horses were stressed and upset, and Levi was driving Doc (older gelding) away from all the other horses. It wasn't typical dominance behavior. Levi wasn't even letting Doc rest, no matter where he went in the pasture. I had a feeling Vic and Levi got into it, but I wasn't 100% sure is was Levi.
However, when I put the horses out that evening, Levi went after Victor again. Again, it wasn't just asserting dominance. Vic's been the dominant horse until now, so I think that's why the two of them are having so many problems. They were on opposite ends of the paddock, and Levi took one look at him and charged him. Vic got chased into the hot wire and Levi wouldn't leave him alone. So I brought Vic in and left him in his stall overnight. I might have been making myself paranoid yet again, but I kept having visions of him being driven into the fence and getting a leg caught in it or getting tangled in hot wire or kicking a hole in the metal shelter and slicing a hoof off... It's not the scrapes and bites that bother me. Those are superficial and they'll heal. It scares me to death what could happen if he and Levi were left unattended and I went out there the next morning to find a dead horse either beaten to shreds or tangled in a fence.
Levi was showing a lot of stallion behavior. Even though he was supposedly in a pasture with mares and geldings at his old place. I honestly never thought he would be like that since he's so docile with people. Pretty stupid of me, I know. I know stallions who were gelded as adults and they calmed right down and never had a problem. I'm positive that Levi still has a stallion's mentality. He herded Reba off by herself and won't let any other horses near her. He was patrolling up and down the paddock and going out of his way to chase other horses away. Vic and Doc especially. He just won't leave anyone alone. One of the mares nailed him in the jaw and now his cheek is swollen to twice the normal size. He's getting the shit beaten out of him too, because he's harassing everyone else in the herd. Vic is terrified of him, and I have NEVER seen Victor run from anyone. It was pretty brutal.
But I really don't want Levi to be sent back. I know how much Lorena and Cristy love him and I really like him as well. Just because he doesn't get along with a few of the horses is no reason to send him back. The problem is, all thirteen horses are together in one paddock. I HATE that. It's dangerous and I've nearly gotten run over several times while bringing horses in. They charge the gate because they're not being fed sufficiently and the BO is hellbent on keeping them all in "one big, happy herd", as she put it. It's ridiculous. When I first came to the barn, the drylots were separated into sections and there were one to three horses in each enclosure. The pastures were all separated, too. It was so much easier and safer. But the BO had the brilliant idea to tear out all the fencing and make the whole thing into one big paddock. She doesn't understand that some horses just do not get along. And she refuses to separate them. Now, the older and more timid horses don't get enough to eat and there's no way to assure that each horse gets the amount of hay that they're supposed to.
Lorena is extremely upset about the whole issue and I feel really guilty. She thinks the aggression would blow over eventually and they would be fine. She's mad at me for bringing Victor in because she thinks that that took away a chance for them to establish the pecking order. But I saw it and it wasn't normal. Was I wrong to take Victor out? I know the difference between asserting dominance and stallion behavior. And Levi was a breeding stallion up until last year. All I know is if I hadn't taken Victor out, I would have been up all night worrying. It felt wrong to leave him out there, and I'm sure many other horse people can relate when you just have "that feeling". Plenty of people end up losing their horses when they ignore that feeling.
I'm rambling. I'm just stressed out and guilty and I don't know what to do. I do not want to get in a fight with Lorena and I definitely don't want Levi to be sent back because of me. I have a serious headache right now.