I have been watching Vienna lead the herd at The Equine Connection. She has been here for a little more than a year now. She calmly took over the leadership from Bandit shortly after joining the herd. (He can be described as having been a competetive leader, who worked his way to the top simply for the sport of it, not because he wanted to lead.) I have watched as Vienna became Athena’s surrogate mother. Athena is the baby of the herd and was missing her birth mother. Even though Vienna is not very cuddly, she let Athena stay close by and now a year later Athena feels confident enough to graze without Vienna. Athena is now able to hang out with the other horses without Vienna. When Vienna arrived, Cheyenne was quite anxious. (Who would not have been under Bandit’s leadership!) I have watched Cheyenne relax and express other parts of herself. When she was anxious, she spent her time managing her anxiety, and not much else. Lately I have seen Cheyenne assert herself. She is daring to go to the hay pile between Bandit and Athena, as opposed to taking the pile the furthest away from all the other horses. Cheyenne has become more daring in her interactions with people too. Bandit is now able to do what he likes without negatively effecting the other horses. He is basically a loner, and now can do his own thing without the anxiety of knowing the herd is actually leaning on him. Vienna has allowed each herd member to express themselves, anxiety free. It is fascinating to watch the power of healthy, dedicated and effective leadership.