Food Aggression

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Food Aggression

This is a discussion on Food Aggression within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Food aggression in horses
  • Food aggression n horses

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    04-08-2012, 11:59 PM
Food Aggression

My horse has some food aggression and I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about if there is anything I could do about it. His food aggression was worse a few months ago, as he would push you and get really mean and so I corrected that by teaching him to stay on one side of the stall and wait while I was putting his food in his bucket and I wont let him eat till he looks at me with his ears foreword.

He does that well but once he is eating and you touch him he pins his ears back and throws his head at you. He hasn't done anything more than that but I worry sometimes because about once a week I have to have my mother-in-law (who has no horse experience) feed him and he is one of those horse's that like to test his boundaries. I don't think he will do anything, but he is still a horse with a mind of his own.

If it helps he is a 2 year old Morgan stallion who respects you with everything but when it comes to food in his stall.
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    04-09-2012, 12:56 AM
Green Broke
Normally I view when they are eating, that is their time. However, I wouldn't allow them to act aggressive if I need to be around them while they eat. I would take a cue stick with me and if/when he showed aggression, I would make him move away from his bowl. It'd be best to work on this in a round pen and not in a stall. He needs room to escape from you and you need room to stay safe. When he has moved away and stands relaxed, I would allow him back to his feed by walking away. Rinse and repeat.
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    04-09-2012, 01:48 AM
If I were having someone w no experience feed him I would set it up so they could do so w/o having to enter a stall. I don't put up w "food aggression", as you put it, and I have no problem holding my ground when teaching a horse to be polite at meal time w the aid of a training whip (not for making contact w unless absolutely necessary) - but I am not sure how long my courage would hold w a 2 yr old horse colt in the confines of a stall. Lots of horse folks' courage would hold just fine - but asking someone to feed him w no experience when you know he tests boundaries seems a bit unfair.

And, having his ears up is good, but its body language that I personally want to see be "polite", relaxed, and asking nicely in an entirely unaggressive fashion. Until you have that - I wouldn't count it as "solid" enough to trust sending your poor mother-in-law into the lion's den at feeding time.
    04-09-2012, 02:47 AM
Green Broke
I kind of think this is a sign that something is "off" somewhere in your relationship.

If you look at horses in a herd, when the dominant horse comes along, they can take the feed of any of the horses, and the submissive ones generally move away. I'm not saying humans will ever be like horses, but if I told my previous horses to move away from their food they'd do it, and that's the way I expect it to be done. If for some reason I need to take them away from their food I want no trouble.

Perhaps look at what you have done with your horse and see if there has been any situations which caused to power balance to shift. If you or someone else is letting the horse walk all over them at another time, more problems might crop up.
    04-09-2012, 09:10 PM
Usandpets- I don't know why I didn't think of that before but it worked and I am going to keep working on it with him till it sticks with him.

Missy May- There isn't really a way you can feed him without going into the stall. I should of put that he wont try to attack you , he will just try to get the food from you as soon as possible. I have shown my mother-in-law how to feed him and have her take a crop in with her just in case. I told her not to use it unless necessary, 99% of the time you can just move it back and forth in the air and he will move back. He is a really good stalled horse and he gets out everyday just a little cranky when its food time. He must think I'm starving him. Lol

Saskia- I think he does this with his food because I have never taught him otherwise. When I'm working with him I can move his hips just by a look and I also have him back up just by giving him the evil look. He knows that I'm the boss when he doesn't have food in his stall, he just was never taught I'm the boss everywhere. Which is something we are going to work on.

Thank you all for your input and I will give you an update in a week or so.

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