Train a horse to share hay? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 08-22-2012, 07:07 AM Thread Starter
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Train a horse to share hay?

Hi! I have my two horses, and two goats, and a 6 month old calf all out in the same paddock. They all get along great, except at the hay pile. My one guy Hershey is fine with sharing with the other animals, most time they will be eating together. But Tino, chases them all away, sometimes, usually when they get too close. He mainly just puts his ears back and kinda throws his head. He is the boss of the hay pile.
Here's my question. Is there always a lead horse in a herd like this? And would it be okay for me to correct him when he gets protective of his hay? I do know that when I'm in the paddock I'm the lead mare, so I claim the hay, and make sure they understand that I am boss. But I am just wondering if there would be hope for the horse, goats, and calf to all get along? So far, everything has been great, but I do feel Tino kinda becoming more and more in charge!
Thanks so much
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post #2 of 6 Old 08-22-2012, 07:15 AM
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You can't teach hierarchy out of horses. Provide them more hay piles not close by each other to ensure calmer herd environment.

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/
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post #3 of 6 Old 08-22-2012, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Saranda View Post
You can't teach hierarchy out of horses. Provide them more hay piles not close by each other to ensure calmer herd environment.
Agreed. Being the boss, you can keep things calm while you're there, but as soon as you leave, your boss horse is back in charge and this will never change.

On the sixth day, God created the Quarter Horse.
On the seventh day, he Painted the good ones.
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post #4 of 6 Old 08-22-2012, 07:33 AM
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Unless it's a nursing mare, it is not in a horse's gene pool to share food.

There is always a dominant horse. Their mindset is, and always will be, eat for survival; regardless of the hundreds and hundreds of years they have been domesticated.

Even though you are the Alpha when you're within your herd, all bets are off once you leave. Humans don't count for anything once we're back in the house or headed out the drive to our jobs.

How big is your paddock? You have an awful lot of livestock in a "paddock", which is generally inferred as being a small area.

Since the words "hay pile" were used, we all assume that's it - one pile of hay, on the ground. A ground that will get churled and muddy when it rains.

When I throw hay in the winter for my four horses (not in the paddock either), there's always at least 8 piles of hay. Horses are grazers/movers by nature - they will play Musical Chairs with the hay piles until the everybody finally settles down to eat.

Eight piles for four horses (spread out in a straight line) assures everybody is eating what they want.

That being said, if your paddock is small, my suggestion is to invest in six hay holders that can be placed above the ground. Make sure to keep them where the goats and calf can reach them.

They will eliminate some waste (especially when it gets muddy), and everybody gets to eat.

Honestly, I hope a paddock environment is temporary and that pasture fence is being built. To repeat myself, six pieces of livestock in a paddock with one hay pile is way too much; especially when they are three different species

Granted it would be great if they all get along. But, I promise you in the end, ONE of the two horses is going to dominate over the hay because it is slowly making up it's mind it is not going to be the one to starve to death

I am sorry if I sound harsh but there's not a very PC way to say this particular truth
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post #5 of 6 Old 08-22-2012, 07:48 AM
Join Date: Apr 2011
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Haynets with small holes also are a good solution. It is more natural for horses to eat with their heads low, so the nets don't have to be tied up high, but they can be attached to a post or hung low (ground level) between two posts. You will have to get several of them and re-fill them daily, but they reduce hay loss and help the animals to eat slower and in smaller portions, just like they would do when grazing naturally.

I have come a long way, to surrender my shadow to the shadow of my horse.
/James Wright/
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post #6 of 6 Old 08-22-2012, 10:26 AM
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If you use haynets tied low, DO NOT use the nylon rope nets. Get the ones that look the most likely to tearand fall apart if someone gets caught in them. I personally tie hay nets high enough so it would be difficult to get a foot caught in them. Shoes make this danger worse.
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