Feeding Aggression - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 05:14 AM Thread Starter
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Feeding Aggression

My horse is pretty well behaved. However, when it comes to feeding time he nearly knocks me over.

The ground is muddy from the rain so I go to carry his feed into the stable. On the way, we tries to grab the hay out of my hands and when i try and stop him he just walks into me to try and push me over.

I eventually get it into the stable. Then he eats for a little while and constantly comes out to check the paddock for more food. He has HEAPS in the stable but persists in looking for more food or trying to steal other horses food over the fences.

I'd like to train him to not take the food until I put it down. Or atleast something that would make him less aggressive.

Any ideas?

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post #2 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 07:33 AM
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Our trainer insists he's the head horse on his farm. I've looked at him like he had two heads in the past. So...he had to prove o me that he IS the head horse. He went over to the feeder and the horses do move away. Can you elbow your boy until he moves away? Your horse needs to respect your space. This is a serious issues and you could easily be hurt if he doesn't respect your personal space.

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post #3 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 07:44 AM
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If your horse is loose and has access to the stable ad-lib a simple but effective solution is to tie your horse up somewhere - you can then proceed to put the feed / hay into the stable without him barging you .
You can then LEAD your horse to the food and hold him untill he behaves himself, then take the halter off and let him eat. If your horse misbehaves you have him on halter and rope - take him somewhere and lunge him for a minute or two until he gets the message , then when he is quiet you can lead him to his feed( don't work him for too long or to hard, work before feed is not a good idea )

A lead horse in a herd environment will lead the others to food , so you will by your actions be giving him the meaasge that YOU are lead horse, he will also learn that the more he messes around the longer it will take before he can eat.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 08:04 AM
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One of our horses had pretty poor tablemanners. I would mix the ration in a coffee can, then get the can sort of half under my arm, like a football, sort of, and go into the stall. I had a free hand to push the horse out of my space or reprimand him if he crowded me. He still is noisy and acts like he hasn't eaten for a week, but he stays out of my space and is otherwise polite. It doesn't sound like you're feeding already stalled horses, though. Nutty Saddler's suggestion is probably your best bet for loose horses.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 09:31 AM
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We had this issues with Dixie. She is a sweetheart at all times... except feeding time. She would bowl us over to get to her feed.

She had inadvertently been "trained" that her bad behavior meant food. She thought she had to act that way to get fed. You just have to break them of that, and teach them the opposite. That the bad behavior means they don't get to eat yet.

SO we took a riding crop and made her stand back. It took a lot of work, but eventually she learned through trials and tribulations that if she stands arm length plus crop length away and waits, she gets fed.

I like the suggestion Nutty Saddler has of tying your horse, letting him see you put his food out, and then don't let him get near it until he respects YOUR space. Once he realizes that you will let him eat when he behaves, the problem should start to get better.

Hope that helps!

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post #6 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 09:36 AM
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I would take a lunge whip out and give a nice, long lesson of patience before they are allowed to feed.
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 10:39 AM
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What we have used before is a whiffle ball bat. It sounds bad I know, but they are hollow and plastic. Essentially, all the do is make a lot of noise and the horse doesn't like it.
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 10:48 AM
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I've seen the Whiffle bat used on a VERY nippy mare who was spiraling into full on biting during even careful and consciensious girthing (any medical reasons had been ruled out). The riders were smaller kids at the time, so this was pretty intolerable. One whack, and the nipping ended instantly, with the horse none the worse for the wear. Like QHChik said, more surprise and dislike of the noise than pain. A hand smacking probly hurts more.

A stubborn horse walks behind you, an impatient one in front of you, but a noble companion walks beside you ~ Unknown
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 12:30 PM
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We were having this issue in our pasture, since we had 5 horses in it at the time. The older guys pretty much know better, they'll stand a foot away and stare with puppy dog eyes. However, the 2 year olds are borderline incorrigible. And being one is half-Clydesdale, I took to carrying a lunge whip with me.

I like the lunge whip because I can keep them out of my space while juggling feed pans. All it usually takes is a good tap on the chest to back them out of my space. And in doing so, they also learned they weren't allowed to approach their feed pan until I stepped away from it. However, these are also lunge trained horses who know to move away from the pressure of the whip, usually without even having to be touched by it. They know I won't hesitate to go after them if they start with dangerous behavior, so they have a healthy respect of it.

After a few sessions of that, I'm pretty much able to walk in and just use my voice and snapping fingers (I always train my horses to listen to me snapping my fingers, when I raise my hand and snap, it means back off NOW, whether it's from the gate or from food). It's kind of funny because now they'll run in circles around me, fighting amonst each other, but it's always a good five feet away from me. They're never quite sure when I may be carrying my "reachin' stick" and they've figured out a five foot bumper zone is a safe distance

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-30-2009, 12:34 PM
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I agree with everyone. You have to stop this behavior as soon as you can because it can turn into something so much worse. We have a horse at my barn that is so food aggressive, the guys won't even walk into her stall to pour her food in the bin, they just drop on the floor inside her stall. She has kicked them, bitten them, everything. We've tried everything, including hiring an expensive trainer to work with her and she broke his knee. it's odd because outside of her stall she's sweet as can be and is a great little lesson horse. it's funny, the guys now say that feeding time for her is time for battle.
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