alphas, betas and nature vs. nurture: wild horses

To have hunger and to need things… to hunt; to eat; to stalk and attack and devour prey, and then to keep moving.

Or to be forever on the move; to fight; to be always claiming higher territory. To be a horse; to be a stallion – the young one who is slowly climbing the ranks, but the dominant one who will likely run with a very large herd some day.

To want.

Perhaps some creatures are just programmed for it more than others.

Are some creatures born to be alpha, while others are born to be beta?

And therein lies one of my arguments against “nurture.” If we wanted to make a case for “nurture,” wouldn’t all male foals born into the same herd grow up to be either alpha or beta? (Maybe they do – I don’t know.) But I think, odds are, of the male foals born into the same herd (over the course of, say, 3-5 years), about 10% or 5% of them are alpha, with the rest assuming the roles of beta (over time).

And of course this shifts over their lives. Not all colts / stallions are Cloud, an almost-white palomino mustang stallion living in the Pryor Mountains of Montana, who has been reigning some ten years or so. (PBS made a documentary about him in 2001. Then they made a sequel in 2003. Homeboy Equine has blogs. And fan pages. And a foundation… though this last one should be the least surprising.)

Cloud and his son, Bolder, spar atop the Arrowhead Mountains.

I would think that if five colts are born within a single season, they all likely vie for alpha at least once in their lives, and I would assume that each of them mates with at least one mare in his lifetime, meaning that, to some degree, they must all have a little “alpha” in him – both the sire and the sons, forever. (If not, they would not mate at all, meaning the super beta gene would not be passed on, so this argument would stand true in the next generation anyway, when all colts born would be born to sires with “more alpha” genes.)


It is interesting.
To me, anyway, it is interesting.

To love the fight.


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