Posted: Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:42 pm Post subject: feeding manners
Thanks for your response to my other post.
How would you suggest keeping the horse from crowding my father when he walking to the barn with a pail? Or would you suggest putting him in the stable until his feed is ready then taking him out? Today, for the first time, when my father went up for his nighttime feeding, he was not pleased at all and pinned his ears and was bucking also. How could we stop this behaviour?
I'm trying to get as much advice as I can to help us out. Since Awesome fell on my dad he hasn't been the most comfortable around him and get scared when he sees him buck. He gets upset that if he can't get comfortable around him he might have to sell. Which I don't want to happen because he's my horse too.
Also, how much grain would you suggest he get if he is not being worked??
Is there some way to get to the barn without walking through Awesome's area? That would probably be the easiest way. Even if it means going a long way around, it's still easier to just avoid the situation until you have found a solution.
A horse who is aggressive at feeding time may have a number of different problems. One may be that a horse will readily walk all over someone who is hesitant. If your father is a little nervous or tentative, the horse may feel that he should be "in charge." See this article for further discussion of such behavior:
Some horses have had bad experiences at feeding time that might leave them with bad feelings about being in a group. Many horses have, at one time or another, had to fight other horses off to keep their food. As a result, a number of horses are aggressive around feeding time, even to people, because they are so focused on keeping EVERYone away from their food (even people!)
With such horses, I tend to mostly ignore it (while keeping myself at a safe distance), aside from making sure that the horse is respectful when I am actually feeding. I described the feeding method in the previous post:
When I'm feeding, no matter what the horses are doing, I insist that they must be away from their feed tub before I come close with the feed bucket. This really didn't take long to teach. If a horse is hovering over a feed tub, waiting to be fed, and you're NOT giving him his food, he's going to wobble around trying to entice you to feed him. Eventually, at some point, he'll turn his head away from the feed bucket. That's when you dash over & dump his food.
If your father can't go around the horse paddock in order to get to the horse feed, then putting Awesome in his stall might be a good way to go about it. If he can safely put Awesome away, without getting into a dangerous situation, then that will probably help. However, if Awesome is getting anxious/aggressive at feeding time, and he comes to associate your father with feeding, then he may act that way any time he sees your father. It might be better all around to find some way that your father does not have to be in the paddock with Awesome.
Alternatively, he could carry a long dressage or lunge whip. If he does, he should simply make sure to keep Awesome at a distance. This distance should be at *least* the length of Awesome's legs; a horse can kick or bite from a surprising distance away. There is nothing wrong with insisting that a horse keep his distance; in fact, a respectful horse SHOULD keep his distance. If Awesome is having respect issues, then using a long whip to make him keep his distance would probably be healthy for everyone.
I went with my dad this morning to see how Awesome was behaving. My dad went to the corral without his water or feed pail. He went up to the barn to clean out his stall. Awesome just hung out in and around the barn, behaving normally. Then my father put him in his stall so he could clean the rest of the barn. He went in the stall with just a verbal command and point of the hand. He isn't haltered and went in very easily. My father then put hay into his manger and he was chowing down. My dad cleaned up the rest of the barn and left to get his water and got him a bit of grain. He doesn't want to give him his grain anymore (it has molasses in it) but Awesome is on a powdered medication for a cough and it had to be given with his grain. So he came back with a bit of grain, his medication and his water. He gave Awesome the grain and his attitude changed instantly. You could tell he became more excited and when he was finished his grain, he wanted more. He didn't pin his ears this time but began kicking in his stall. My dad yelled for him to stop, and he did, but continued to stomp his front leg. My dad, at this point, didn't want to open his stable door, so he just left him in there to finish eating. He just went back up to open his door and he was sleeping when he got there and came out of the stable with no problems.