Usually occurring where a subordinate ram challenges a dominant ram, the clash is a sophisticated piece of behaviour whereby dominance is asserted or challenged. Each ram musters all his force to deliver as hard a blow as possible to the opposing ram’s skull and that force is gathered as each ram steps back, prior to charging. In primitive breeds, including Loaghtans, rams will also lift their front quarters clear of the ground so as to achieve maximum impact with the increased force of gravity.
Whilst the structure of the skull has evolved so as to cushion such blows and brain injury is rare, broken necks can occur. Most of the damage is sustained by the head, horns and neck.
A period of review, although this may be momentary, follows the clash during which there is an assessment of damage sustained, whilst judging the relative size of the other ram’s horns and likely outcome of further contact.
Four-horned rams will clash in the same way save for where the horns point forward in which case dominance is asserted or challenged by side flicks of the horns onto the other’s flank. Four-horned rams with horns pointing forward are considered to be less aggressive and therefore more easily handled than two-horned rams, but rams are to be respected at all times, whatever their horn configuration!