Stop pawing!! I mean it!
So Duncan has learned some tricks from my mare Ginger.
Ginger will paw at her food bowl until you bring her the grain-- not incessantly or anything like that, just a little. I know it's a bad habit, but at the moment it's too cold for me to want to stay outside long enough to break it (just being honest... I don't have a thyroid so I'm super sensitive to cold weather).
So now Duncan paws, but he doesn't do it until he gets fed, he does it afterward. He'll stop to chew and paw right into his feed pan like he's scooping it out-- which he usually does. Usually I'll stand there while he eats and pull the bowl away with an "ah ah!" then wait a moment before giving it back (though, admittedly, I don't do it every day... like I said, it's cold haha). But, before the grain issue, I'd seen him do this with his hay, too. He's only been eating grain a few weeks now (about a quart twice a day), and I've seen him pawing at his hay. I don't know how to discourage him from all this pawing!!!
What can I try to break both of them of this habit? Ginger just loves to paw while she's tied. She hates being tied.
Arthur paws when he's impatient, especially if I make him stand and wait on the way back to the barn. If he paws, I'll reach forward and give him a jab on his shoulder with my foot and he'll usually cut it out. If he's pawing just when he's eating and it doesn't hurt anyone, I think he's okay. You might want to carry a short crop when you feed and give him a light flick on the shoulder if he starts pawing and a reproachful "Ah". If they paw before you feed, do the same thing, and don't feed them until they stand quietly.
For pawing while tied. I will tie them and let them stand there for an hour or so everyday. Or for 15mins and do it an hour or so later. It stopped my gelding. I have a hay string wrapped around a tree that I tie to. That way in the event something happens while I am not out there he can break free. He's not one to set back while tied so I have never had any issues.
Now my mare paws at feeding time- I gave up. I have heard you can hobble them but I just dont have the time to stand out there and watch her eat honestly. She will dig to china if you dont put a board or something under the feed bucket. She is also bad about slinging the food out of the bucket. I have lost track of how many different buckets we have tried. Heck I even used a small swimming pool for a bit but she tore that up with pawing...
I agree with equiniphile if either does it while tied or standing give them a quick bump with the halter to catch there attention. Do this every time and they should eventually stop. with the feeding I think the key is to get them to stand quiet before feeding. As for the cold the only thing I can suggest is a pair of Carheart coveralls a thick carheart jacket and a nice warm beanie. When I worked at a ranch in the mtn that is what I wore every day during the winter. One day it was nearly noon and still below zero.... it didn't keep me toasty that day but at least I didn't freeze. Remember 1-2 pairs of nice thick socks too.
Buckets. I have found the big thick black rubermaid buckets work GREAT. I have one big and one small and my horses have yet to tear them up. I got mine at wallmart but I'm not sure if they still carry them.
I have the black rubber buckets from Tractor Supply, they are great and come in different sizes. I even have the really big one as my water trough. They are great feed buckets though. I've had them for years and I think one or two have been run over by the tractor while mowing the pasture and they are still kickin...My gelding doesn't even paw..it's more annoying and I can't get him to stop. First he pawed waiting on his feed and I did stop it with yelling "ah" at him and kinda scaring him, but now he just picks his front foot up and holds it there..he will switch feet and do it the entire time he is eating..he won't spill his feed though. He doesn't believe in wasting :) He has to get every little morsel or it hurts his feelings.
For a horse who paws while tied if I am there (typically they paw if I have stopped paying attention and am standing there talking to someone) take thumb nail (or hoof pick or handle end of crop) and "jam jam jam" in the stomach or ribs and I will say "Quit thinking about yourself" they stop, I continue chatting.
I have been known to whip something across the yard at a pawing horse (ended up taking a mostly empty little bottle of roll on and throwing it 50' right smack in the forehead of a horse who learned not to paw if I was there but started when my back was turned and I walked away. Made a good thunk and I yelled "I said NO" as I continued walking away) Might apply a similar thing to a horse pawing while I walk in the gate with his food, right now he'd get a snow ball.
Also, you could try walking in with a lounge whip and sending all of the horses to the other end of the pasture until you've set the bucket down so they don't have time to stand there and paw while they wait.
And if horses are pawing there food out of buckets (hard to stop while they are eating and most do like to dump there food, humans think buckets are nice but horses do not have table manners) so I find myself dumping 10 out of the 15 horses heres food right on the ground so at least they cannot fling my expensive grain, its already on the ground. Same goes for bucket breakers. BUT that said the rubber pans at Tractor Supply Co ARE great and do not break, they double as toys. My guys like to play tug with them.
Dont you love the "I SAID NO" saying? I love it! I yell it all the time but I think Hickory just looks at me like "You honestly think I care that your yelling me me? I will run away from you before you get to me." and he enjoys it!
I do love "I said no!" and "Quit thinking about yourself!" my horses almost know these as commands now :D
Hahaha at DI and NR... I do that too!
I talk to my horses and my dog like they're people and actually get it. My dog especially-- she nips at the horses, and I say things like "I told you not to do that!" and "How many times do I have to tell you no??" and "If you do that ONE MORE TIME...!" They're like my children.
Duncan usually gets comments like "Stop that you silly goofy little pony baby!" Said in the sappiest voice I can muster. Ginger usually gets comments like "Quite being a bully."
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