bad behavior during feeding time? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-24-2008, 12:38 AM Thread Starter
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bad behavior during feeding time?

I just finished watching a video on about maintaining control during feed time. It seemed to make sense to me. My horse gets really excited when i bring the feed in, but has never done anything aggressive towards me, although i must say in order to get the feed buckets I just about have to push him and his pature mate out of the way to even get in the fence. My question I setting myself up to have a problem horse down the road? Is it true that horses are testing your leadership during feeding time?
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post #2 of 9 Old 08-24-2008, 01:51 PM
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My horses were VERY pushy when I just moved them to my place from boarding farm. Not really aggressive, but they tried to get to the grain right away and looked extremely worried. I do NOT think it was leadership testing. My feeling was they were afraid they not gonna get any grain (I bet something was going on at that farm). After couple weeks they figured out they'll get the bucket no matter what so at this time when they see me coming each stands at her own spot near the fence and wait on me to come in and put the bucket. Also when the bossy mare is done (she's much faster eater) she's waiting on my other low-pecking-order horse to finish her food and after that each get couple cookies.
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-24-2008, 03:34 PM
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Pasture feeding can be very frustrating especially if you need to give more feed to one horse then another. One method is to feed them at different buckets but even that has it's problems because the aggressive horse will push the other horse out of the way and eat both rations.

What I do, and this may help you with your problem as well as making it easier to feed, is to halter each horse and lead line them to something solid. For me it is the barn wall. I feed inside a "common" area in my barn and each horse has their own space they they are fed from. I do not bring out their feed until each horse is secured to their area. When all of them are finished I'll release each one starting with the lowest in the pecking order.

I whistle train them to come into the barn and wait to be haltered and tied. Only then do they get their feed. That way I don't get crowded with them trying to eat from the bucket and I can monitor how much feed each horse gets.

It takes a week for them to fall into the routine. It's also advisable to feed at the exact same time each day. Another thing that I am very critical about is weighing my feed. No mistakes that way and I can monitor their intake vs their weight and make the adjustments as necessary.

As an example one mare only gets 1/2lb x 2 per day due to her lack of work and how easy she is to gain weight. The gelding gets 1 1/2lb x 2 (down from 2lb x 2) to keep his weight stable since he is ridden nearly every day.

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post #4 of 9 Old 08-24-2008, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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thank you both for your posts! Ive never thought of haltering them and tying them to feed. That also sounds like a good way to get my horse more comfortable being haltered
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post #5 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 06:29 AM
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I know our local rescues (which has 5-7 horses in field) do it this way: just tie each to the fence post.
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post #6 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 12:46 PM
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I got a really nice hoof shaped bruise on my leg from getting in a hurry at feeding time. Its best to set some ground rules from the get go. Now I don't let anyone in kick distance of me when I have a feed bucket in my hand. Your setting yourself up for future injuries otherwise. I make sure everyone is in their places before anyone gets feed. Carry a dressage whip if need be, but don't let them croud you.
Note: this is for multiple horses being feed in an open lot. Not single horse stall feeding.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 01:23 PM
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We feed our 2 geldings in a low cattle trough. What I do is before I unlatch the gate, I make the horses back (they will do it on voice command.) I don't even unhook the gate until they have both backed up. then I carry the feed bucket in my left hand and I use my right hand as a buffer between me and the horses. When we first started feeding them I carried a 2" stick to help keep more distance. Then I walk to the feeder and the horses must be on one side of the feeder with me on the other side. I don't pour one single grain of feed into the trough untill the horses have calmed down and If they try to come on my side of the feeder they get chased off.

It took them about a week or so before they realized that I own one side of the feed trough and they get the other. They both will wait for the feed to get poured and then I thump the bucket a couple times which they aren't all that fond of but they know its comming so they don't just dive into the feed. After I thump the buket then they go about eating.

Anyways, right or wrong this is what has worked for us. Hopefully you can adapt it to work for you. Good Luck!

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

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post #8 of 9 Old 08-25-2008, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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thanks for the tips everyone. i will try em out and see what works best with Major and his pasture mate. they really havent gotten to the point where they try and bite or kick...just a bit pushy, maybe I can save myself from gettin that matching hoof print that one of you got.
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post #9 of 9 Old 08-27-2008, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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I just had to let yall know what happened today! When I go feed Major, I feed a friend of mines 2 mares also. She recently got in a car accident and cant feed them right now. Anyway, one of the mares has been getting more and more aggressive with the horse in there with her. I just kinda let it go, because these arent my horses so I stick with doing things the way my friend does. Well today I was a little late on feeding cause i had a flat tire. When I go in the mares' pasture to get their buckets to feed them...the aggressive mare started pushing into me, laying back her ears and being very aggressive! It was kind of scary, but! thanks to all of you who answered this post...i knew exactly what was going on and exactly what to do about it! After about 5 minutes I had her straightened out and tonight when I went back to feed, she was a much more respectful girl! I wanna give everyone who posted here a very very big thanks!!!! I couldnt have done it without ya!!!
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