Almost all groups of animals have a name given to them. What about horses? What is a group of horses called? Though the most common term is a herd, there are actually several names for a group of horses.
The difference between the terms can have to do with the activities the horses engage in, the horses’ age, or their gender. Below is a collection of these names.
Common Names for Groups of Horses
A stud is a group of male horses reared in a stud farm for breeding. The primary purpose of a stud farm is to ensure that specific breeds don’t go extinct. Because of this, farmers record information on breeding occurrences in the stud farm in a studbook.
This name was common on ranches, specifically for studs in French-speaking countries. However, the name is not as common as it was years back.
3. Bachelor Herd
A group of young male horses is a bachelor herd. These are uncastrated male horses that often compete in races. After retiring from racing, they are bred.
A string refers to horses owned by an individual cowboy. Each horse in the string has a unique disposition and athletic ability.
The term stable mainly refers to a building that houses horses. However, it also refers to a group of horses regardless of the environment or structure they live in.
Troop refers to horses used explicitly in the military.
A team of horses is a group of at least 2 driving horses who pull heavy machinery on a farm. Another name for these types of horses is workhorses or draft horses.
Horse owners previously referred to young uncastrated horses as a rag or rake. It is currently still in use in some countries but is not as popular as it was many decades ago. The term “bachelor herd” has replaced this term for the most part.
A band refers to a section of a large herd of horses.
What is a Herd of Horses?
The collective noun herd refers to a group of horses interacting outside their designated shelter. These horses could be grazing together or moving around the fields together, for example. Bands of horses, usually at least three to five members from each band, make up a herd. There must be two or more horses for a group of horses to be called a herd. The group can consist of one to two stallions, mares, and their offspring.
Interestingly enough, a herd of horses usually has a hierarchy. Starting from the top, the herd is led by the lead stallion. This stallion leads the rest of the herd to food and water, resolves fights within the herd, and ensures no horse strays away.
On the other side, a lead mare assists the lead stallion by controlling the herd from behind. The lead stallion and the lead mare manage the herd, and all the horses in the herd follow their lead.
The horses recognize the herd’s hierarchy from top to bottom and respect the leaders. A new horse occupies the lowest rank in the hierarchy. Because of the conduct of the horses, it is easy for lead horses to keep the herd safe and orderly.
How a Group of Horses Co-exist
Horses have an interesting way of communicating with each other. Primarily, they use body language. For example, a lead stallion lowers its back, flattens its ears, and bites or kicks to stop a fight. As another example, a mare can give bites to a foal to instill discipline.
Sometimes body language goes beyond mere communication. For example, during an attack from predators or bully horses, all horses defend themselves by kicking.
Another trait groups of horses have is that they usually follow a routine. They have specific times for grooming, drinking water, resting, and eating. This fact that horses are highly routined and disciplined also makes it easy to train and tame them.
Here are a few other interesting behaviors common among horses:
- To mark territory, a stallion defecates on another stallion’s stool.
- Horses use their tails to keep flies from each other’s faces.
- Horses curl up their lips and raise their heads when they sense danger. If one horse sees one react this way, they know there is a threat and stay alert.
Horses hardly stay in isolation. In fact, you will mostly find them in groups as a way of keeping each other company, overcoming boredom, and staying safe. Perhaps because horses are such sociable animals, there is a wide variety of names for groups of them.
While there are many names for groups of horses, and some of these names are still in use today, many have long been completely replaced by modern words. The most commonly used term today is simply “herd”. We hope that, from this article, you now have a clear understanding of some of the names given to a group of horses and a better idea of some traits and common behaviors among horses.