Horses being dominant to each other at feeding times. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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Horses being dominant to each other at feeding times.

Hi there,
Does anyone have any tips on how to stop horses from being dominant to each other around humans?

I've recently been having trouble at feeding time. When I first get outside with the hay, the dominant horse will chase away the submissive horse from all three feeding spots. He doesn't relax until there is hay in all three feeders and he's decided which one he's going to eat from. Even then, he'll switch spots and chase the other horse off, but at that point, it's not a problem because I'm no longer around and in the cross-fire.

I'm sure my submissive horse won't trample me on purpose (we've worked a lot on respect on the ground) but that doesn't mean that it won't happen by accident. There's a lot of snow right now and either of us could trip.

Any advice? Do you think a fourth feeding spot would help? There was some hay left but maybe more leftovers would make a difference. I can't move the spots too much father away because of the snow, but I will if you think that will help. They are around 15 feet apart. I do have to do work on respect and ground manners with the dominant horse, but that's not going to happen until it gets warmer and the snow melts. Would that even make a difference on how he behaves with other horses, around me?

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post #2 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 05:52 PM Thread Starter
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I meant to put this in horse training, not horse trainers. Sorry. Can someone move it?
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post #3 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 06:07 PM
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What will help is to run the dominant horse off until you're done (which is tied to your planned training). With a boss horse, it doesn't make a difference how many piles you have. They typically want to try them all. At our places fussing with each other at feeding time is not acceptable because, as you said, your chance of getting accidentally hurt is high.

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post #4 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 06:18 PM
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I always make sure all the horses stay away until I'm done. Where I did work experience they took a whip in with them to keep the horses away and then let them sorry it out themselves behind them, I don't I in just use my body language. If the top horse is pushing horses into you then I'd chase him for a bit, but I'm not sure in the snow, stipendiary how deep.
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post #5 of 11 Old 02-02-2014, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you. That's helpful. I bust out my handy stick and string and give it a try.
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post #6 of 11 Old 02-03-2014, 10:55 AM
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Welcome :)
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post #7 of 11 Old 02-03-2014, 02:11 PM
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Put out 3 more piles than there are horses. The dominant horse will often give up at the third pile and settle down to eat.
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post #8 of 11 Old 02-03-2014, 02:35 PM
Green Broke
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Take a lash whip, or something long enough to keep you out of range.

And more piles will help.

But horses will always jockey for position. You need to be running the show better, and you will see some of this fade.

And you need to stop thinking that they won't trample you in their haste to get away from the boss horse, that is foolish, as they will, and not think twice about it.

You need to be in charge of every single horse out there, and that means you need to have their respect. It also does not take even an hour to get it across to any horse just where you stand in the grand scheme of things.

You also should not be waiting until spring to get this done. Attitude and consistent handling of horses is the key. Any horseperson could go out there and have this sorted out in less than 5 minutes, because they would put a stop to this, by making horses back up and behave themselves. And would do so every single time they fed.

Move all horses away from the hay until you are done, and you decide when they can come up to a pile. And since you have let this get to this point, I would also be moving them away from a pile after letting them come up, so they know who is in charge.

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Last edited by Palomine; 02-03-2014 at 02:40 PM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 02-04-2014, 06:05 PM
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I would say feeding time is one of the highest stress times for a horse. Lots of instincts at play here. I would immediate separate the dominant horse so he is fenced or stalled away from the others. You can then immediately be safe AND you can begin his training in mealtime manners. Once that is done, decide where you want to feed him and where (how far away)you would like him to be when you place the feed/hay in that spot. Take meal to the spot with purpose, but immediately retreat back to barn/gate if/when he crowds you. He will probably catch on pretty quickly if you are firm in your resolve to have him keep a safe and respectful distance. Absolutely do not put meal down until/unless he is respectful. If he ends up missing a meal, I can pretty much guarantee he won't repeat his mistake. (And you can always leave and come back in 10 minutes.)
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post #10 of 11 Old 02-04-2014, 06:56 PM
Green Broke
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My horses, including my very dominant mare, are trained to step away before I even enter with the hay- I say, "Back up!" wait. Then, "Move over." but usually before "move over", they're all to the side waiting for me to enter. They've been taught, (and horses are very smart, especially @ feed time), that if they do not step aside and wait, the food will not come. No one dodges at the hay, either - they walk behind or to the side of me until I put out everyone's first flakes... then I go about distributing the rest in places, do my chores while they eat, and it's perfect harmony! Much of the credit goes to their previous owners, and I've absolutely done the same :)
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