This started a few months ago at grain time, intermittently at first now at every feeding. The horses have feed pans tied to the fence and are on the ground. I just reach thro the fence and drop the grain. One horse started emitting a low deep moan as he lowered his nose into the pan. It almost sounded like "oooohhhhhh, thenk you" in a very deep voice. Now he's moaning as I approach. I've been around many horses and have never heard or heard of a horse doing this. Anyone else?
There's warmblood gelding at the barn that lolls his tongue out, rolls his eyes, shakes his head and moans like he's having a seizure. He apparently used to be extremely aggressive (charging around in his stall, snapping at whomever was feeding and kicking the walls) at feed time and when his owner got after him about it, he started doing this instead.
Since it's completely harmless (albeit really darn scary if you are feeding and unaware he will do this), his owner is ok with it. Over the years, he's basically given up since it doesn't garner him faster service or anything and now only does it if he is fed last. It's become the "party trick" of the barn and if anyone new is around, we'll feed him last just so they can see the spectacle.
My horses nicker in a really low/deep way, right in the back of their throat at feed time. I like it, because they're so happy that they're being fed. They go and get in their own stables and wait with their heads sticking out. The whole time I'm mixing I can hear their little noises, and if I clang a feed bin, they do it louder!
I find his moaning kinda funny. I told a gal that he moans and says "thenk you" - not thank you but thenk you. She listened and laughed and said that's what she was hearing too. I brag about how polite this horse is and this just confirms it.