Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : The role of leader in polygynous species has been solely attributed to the male for some time, but recent studies have shown decision making to be distributed within the group. However, the specific reproductive strategy and behavioural repertoire of males in polygynous species such as horses may mean that these individuals still have the potential to play a specific role during decision making. To investigate this subject, we thoroughly studied the behaviour of two domestic stallions during collective movements of their group. We found that they initiated rarely and sometimes failed to recruit the entire group. When departing as followers, they did not accelerate the joining process. Both stallions preferentially occupied the rear position and exhibited numerous monitoring behaviours. Herding behaviours were performed by only one stallion and mostly occurred outside movement context. Finally, we removed this herding stallion from its group to evaluate how the group dynamic changed. As a result, half of the collective movements were five times slower and mares were more dispersed in comparison when the stallion was in the group. Overall, our results suggest that, the two stallions maintained their role of group monitors from departure to arrival. Their influence on the movement dynamic was indirect and did not play a specific role in the process of decision making.