New Horse...Anxiety at feeding time? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 01-21-2009, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Jacksonville, NC
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Question New Horse...Anxiety at feeding time?

I have a new OTTB (6 yrs old). He has been at my stables since Saturday. I bought him underweight, his previous owner was not feeding him enough. Yesterday I turned him out (across the street from the barn, barely in sight of the barn) before dinner time, and the whole time he stared, paced and looked for the feed truck as they drove around. Would not pay attention to me, would not listen to any commands..... what do you think? He was almost unmanageable.

He is almost 17HH and huge, so if it is a behavior problem I have got to nip it in the bud so he isnt dangerous or anything.

He's been off track for 2 years and was trained hunter/jumper during that time.
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post #2 of 10 Old 01-21-2009, 12:13 PM
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Horses are such creatures of habit. I usually give a horse, depending on it's nature, a couple days up to a week or two a chance to settle in a new environment before I start working them. I visit them in the new place as much as possible so they know I'm still there for them but the surroundings have changed.

I'll feed them there, hang out with them, pet and love them there, maybe lead them around a little, but no real work until they are sure that they are NOT going to be eaten by the scary horse monster.

Even switching pastures on the same land can be stressful for some higher strung horses.

Your saftey is always #1. I would make sure he's comfortable in his new surroundings and give him a chance to get used to the feeding schedule and then go to work with him.

If you think about it from his point of view, he was at the "new place" for 3 days...he was just starting to figure out that he was ok and going to get fed, and then he was bannished to the pasture just before dinner.....OH WHY, WHY CAN'T I STAY AND HAVE DINNER..... LOL... He was just panicking.

Give him a few days and try again. This is a big change for him.

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 #3 of 10 Old 01-21-2009, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Dumas....I think you are right :o). Tonight when I go see him, we will just spend time together since it will be close to dinner time.

Tomorrow the farrier is coming and then Friday is the vet with shots...if anything weird happens I'll report back! :o)
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post #4 of 10 Old 01-21-2009, 04:52 PM
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I agree with Dumas.

Also, sometimes horse's that were deprived food will always be a little anxious around feeding time. We have a little POA that two years later still gets upset. We feed her first and that seems to help.
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post #5 of 10 Old 01-22-2009, 08:01 AM
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Horses are always looking for food. At least from my experience if the feed is coming they don't care about you or anyone else anymore until they are done (I'm sure there are exceptions, but I've never met one). What also adds to your horse is the fact he's underweight. So the food is especially important for him. I'd also suggest may be messing and playing with him AFTER he's done with his dinner rather than try to do it before. He'll calm down with it after some time.
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post #6 of 10 Old 01-22-2009, 01:31 PM
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It took me about a month with our horses in their new home (here at our house) for me to show them that they have a new routine that they could depend on. After that month, I then decided that feeding time was NOT a free for all, wild, eat it as fast as you can party.

I stood steady with the hay and grain and DID NOT give it to the horses (2 geldings) until they calmed down. THEN as soon as they quit trying to mug me and stood almost still (no fighting for space,and patiently waiting), I'd feed.

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 #7 of 10 Old 01-22-2009, 10:41 PM
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I have one horse that I will tie for feeding. She was very aggressive about food when she first came. This training did a few things for us 1. gave me more control over her, 2. taught her that being haltered and tied is ok, 3. made sure she didn't try to take the other horses food, 4. now gives her security because it's routine ... as a matter of fact those evenings when it's -30 and I decide to forgo the haltering (I can now after many months), she looks at me funny as though to say, "Um... why are you at my feed bowl with food when I don't have my halter on yet? Hello?" and she won't approach until I tell her it's ok.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-01-2009, 12:42 PM
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He/She just needs time to get used to everything changing. If your horse was deprived of food then it will probably act like that until it gets used to you. Try bringing the food to him/ her yourself. What you really need to do is spend a lot more time with your horse and trust in him, then he will trust in you.
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-01-2009, 03:28 PM
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I don't do anything with my girls before or after feeding time. At least for 20-30 min. I figure they are anxious before they eat, territorial and fighting for dominance while they eat and lazily digesting after they eat.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-02-2009, 10:07 AM
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Horses Just Get Excited at Feeding

I've spend several years volunteering at a rescue ranch with 60 horses in residence at a time, so have lots of experience feeding.

Horses just get riled up at feeding time. If you have a group of horses in a pasture and bring feed out to them, they are all excitable. One reason is the competition for the feed between dominant and less dominant horses. That is just the way things work, feeding is always exciting.

The only thing I'd make sure is a horse doesn't engage in truly bad behavior during feeding-that is get in my personal space. So you can get excited but you're not going to threaten my safety. Carry a whip or crop out when you feed to keep him off you. After a few lessons with that it could help calm him down.

Another thing is how do you react when he gets excited at feeding time? Something I've noticed at the rescue ranch is when the people react by getting nervous or excited themselves, the horses get worse. On the other hand when the feeders remain relaxed and calm, the horses take it down a notch.

Its also true horses need time to adjust to their surroundings. So he might calm down as time goes on.
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