Juliane Dykiel's Horsemanship Blog

Archive for the tag “rescue horse”

Rocío’s Quiet Transformation From Subordinate to Alpha Mare

First of all, I’d like your input on turnout preferences. I’d love to see how the horse community feels about this issue.

While most things we have introduced Rocío to since her arrival have been new to her, turning her out with another horse was not. She had spent 5 years in a holding pen full of other mustangs, and, for this reason, we were sure that turning her out with another horse at Windflower would be a smooth process.

We chose Tica, Ainslie’s calmest mare, to be the first horse to turn Rocío out with.

“Patriotica,” Ainslie’s Andalusian mare.

We waited until the two had been properly introduced through the fence before introducing them. Additionally, the two had bonded from going out on trail walks together, where Ainslie would lead Tica and Rocío and I would follow.

One of Tica and Rocío’s first interactions.

One of Tica and Rocío’s first interactions, courtesy of Sheridan Studio.

However, it turned out that Rocío’s interaction with Tica was one of the most fascinating bits of herd dynamics I have ever observed.

When we were picking up Rocío from Orange on April 10th, we noticed that she was at the bottom of the pecking order. The other mares pushed her around. As a result, Rocío had gotten used to eating old, muddy scraps of hay because she usually couldn’t reach the good hay. We theorized that this was one of the reasons she had been so skinny when she arrived.

To observe this for yourself, you can take a peek at the pick-up video here. If you skip ahead to 0:27, you’ll see how shy she is compared to the other mares.

This is why we wanted her to be out with Tica specifically. Ainslie’s mare is very aloof in a herd and has “adopted” several of Ainslie’s young horses throughout the seventeen years Ainslie has owned her. She usually dominates but is not aggressive.

Tica establishing her role as herd leader early on. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

Tica establishing her role as herd leader early on. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

As soon as we were out together, the mares behaved just as we had predicted. Tica, the flashy Andalusian, pranced around the paddock, shooting warning faces at Rocío while Rocío tried to follow her around. In these first few minutes, Rocío accepted her place as subordinate mare very quickly.


Tica bossing Rocío around. Photo by Waxler Imagery.

Then, Tica settled down and ate some hay, while Rocío circled her for a few minutes. Tica wasn’t letting her approach the hay, and Rocío’s behavior was odd. She seemed to be approaching and retreating Tica from different angles.

All of a sudden, minutes later, Rocío backed up into Tica and kicked her! With a squeal, Tica backed off from the hay, and before we knew it, Rocío was chasing her around!

Rocío changing her place in the herd rather suddenly. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

Rocío changing her place in the herd rather suddenly. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

We were shocked at this quick transformation, and Rocío’s methodical, quiet, relatively drama-free way of switching the dynamic. I’ve seen horses fight for dominance before, and sometimes those fights escalate. Usually, a complete switch from subordinate to alpha mare could be very explosive, but Rocío proved to be extremely calculated.

Both mares were at peace very quickly. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

Both mares were at peace very quickly. Photo by Sheridan Studio.

The fact that she had been out with her herd in Orange, MA for days and stayed at the bottom of the pecking order told me that she has gained a lot of confidence at Windflower since she has arrived. She became the bold lead mare within twenty minutes or less.

Both girls trotting around in harmony. Photo by Waxler Imagery.

Both girls trotting around in harmony. Photo by Waxler Imagery.

This made me feel very happy for her, as well as reinforcing my opinion of how intelligent and sensible this little mare is.

Photo by Anne Dykiel.

Photo by Anne Dykiel.

If you like these updates, and haven’t already, please consider donating to our cause so that we can give this mare the best care possible.

Make sure you like our Facebook page!

As usual, I’d like to thank Sheridan Studio and Waxler Imagery for capturing all of these important moments. These photographers are truly gifted.


Mistreated Horse in Need of Rehabilitation

By Juliane Dykiel

Rescue Draft Horse


Last Wednesday I went back down to CT Draft Rescue in East Hampton, CT, to visit the rescue horse that my brother and I will be taking into foster care this summer. I have started a rescue horse project within his company AllHorseStuff and this is part of our training program.

“Coal” in a 9 year old Percheron cross. I can only imagine what happened to him in the past, but if you watch this video, you will see what human cruelty has done this poor animal’s psyche. His current trainer Dave has been making great progress with him but doesn’t have to time to give this horse the one-on-one attention he needs.

Once we have rehabilitated Coal and trained him as a riding horse (Dave has already started him under saddle, but he needs to get a lot more training under his belt), we are hoping to find him a forever home. He would need an experienced horse person in case some of his issues remain with him, but he is worth it. He is a stunning animal and a beautiful mover.

A great help would be to go to and give us a donation. Coal eats a bale of hay a day and lots of grain. We will have to pay for board, farrier bills, and any other expenses out of our own pocket, and we are both college students. We are already struggling but want to give this horse the chance that he deserves.

Passing this video along to every compassionate horse person that you know would also be a great help. We need all the help that we can get.

You can sign up for this blog or “LIKE” us on Facebook at to keep track of Coal’s story, and to keep track of your donation. Thank you for taking the time to read this and view the video.

You can e-mail me at my work e-mail,, for more questions on this matter.

Juliane Dykiel

A Rescue Horse’s Story

Mojito is a friendly Quarab gelding who was rescued by the Animal Rescue League of Boston. The rescue took him away from a field where he and several other horses were left there, neglected.

We adopted him from the rescue to start him under saddle and find a good home for him. We’ve put together a little video of him:

E-mail us at or call us at 1-888-413-5985 if you would like to learn more about Mojito. Also please feel free to forward this to anybody who might be interested in him!


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