Aggression at Feeding Time - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By squirrelfood
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post #1 of 6 Old 10-20-2014, 05:08 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Kentucky
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Exclamation Aggression at Feeding Time

So you know who I'm talking about:
Wes - My TB gelding, we got him about 3 weeks ago
Buddy - My husband's mule gelding, we've had for about a year

Buddy is a major feed thief. He's always eating from any pan other than his own.
Right now we don't have stalls built yet to get everyone separated.
Buddy is a good weight, and gets significantly less feed than Wes who needs to gain quite a lot of weight (OTTB), so Buddy's always done eating first.

During the first two weeks of having Wes, I actually went out and held the feed bucket for him while I sat on the mounting block so I could push Buddy away when he would try to steal Wes' feed.

This past week, I tried feeding our normal way, with pans spaced out on the ground along the fence line, but that wasn't at all successful. I'd guess that Buddy probably took close to half of what I had given Wes.

The past two days, I've taken a bucket into our run-in shelter so Buddy was blocked from 3 sides. Wes can pretty well take care of himself most of the time from one side since he has at least a foot of height on Buddy.

This is where the real problem comes in.
At first, Buddy's behavior was just annoying. Not he's getting more aggressive, and I don't really feel safe going in to feed.

The first day of feeding in the shelter, Buddy charged after me as I was taking out the empty bucket - ears back, head down, the same way he does when a dog comes in the field. I threw my arms up and he stopped, then I grabbed hold of his halter and made him back continuously for a good 2-3 minutes without stopping. He behaved much better after that.

Today, as I was walking in with the feed, Buddy spun around and tried to kick either me or Wes with both back feet. Either way, it was in my direction. Thankfully, Wes was between me and Buddy or he probably would have got me.
Wes turned to Buddy and bit him while I moved quickly away in case they were going to fight.
Once the bucket was hung and Wes was eating, Buddy came up, Wes was tossing his head and pinning his ears, the bucket got knocked on the ground and spilled, and then Wes came out to where I was looking for more, and Buddy ate every bite.
So now that he's been rewarded for what he did, I expect it to be worse tonight for evening feeding.

I get that they haven't been together long, and they have to work out their dominance issues for themselves, but Buddy used to know to not pull those stunts while I'm in the pasture.

I don't just want to separate them, or tie them, but I might have to for a little while so this can be fixed.
This winter, they'll be fed in their stalls anyway, but I want to really fix it, not just prevent the possibility since separation might not always be an option.
I need some kind of training solution to fix this permanently.

It's like Buddy has lost all respect for me, and I'm not sure why.
I'm not really sure what to do to get him behaving.
He's healthy and on 24/7 good pasture. It's not like he's starving, but he acts like he's never seen food before.
He just looses it as soon as he sees the bucket. He always has, but it's getting worse and worse, from excitement to annoying and now to this.

The only suggestion I've had so far from other sources has been to get him into a round pen and run him until he's on his knees. I'm not sure that's really the best way to go about it, but if it would work then that's what I'll have to do.
BadWolf is offline  
post #2 of 6 Old 10-20-2014, 06:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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you might not ever be able to successfully feed them grain in a field, or any situation where one can get in with the other.

you can put some things inside Buddy's feed tray, like large rocks (not too small that he'd injest them) such that he must move things around with his lips to get at the food. but, he may just go, "that's too much trouble. i'll just go steal Wes's".
tinyliny is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 10-20-2014, 07:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2014
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Before you even THINK of taking feed out, tie up the mule! Tie him well, so he stays put. THEN feed the horse. You may not like it, but it IS the solution, before you get hospitalized. When the horse is done, feed the mule. Or hang a tub where he is tied. Mules are smart, and he's not likely to back down.
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squirrelfood is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 10-20-2014, 08:55 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Kansas, USA
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Good advice so far. I agree with tying the mule up but here's a second option. You can make a pen for the mule. If you have some panels lying around, like maybe two or four, choose a corner of the pasture and set the panels up so you have a pen. The two sides of fencing can be two walls which will help you not have to find or buy extra panels. You'll probably have to swing a panel open so the mule can go through. Then lock it up, give him his feed and a bit of water. Then your horse can eat and get all he needs. Let the mule out once he's done eating.
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post #5 of 6 Old 10-20-2014, 09:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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A lung whip can clear the air. Often just swinging one side to side about waist height is a deterrent. If a mule walks into it and takes a hit, he'll think twice the next time. Don't be afraid to use it. One whack can send a clear message. You're not beating him. He needs to learn to stay in his space. I can feed mine 5' apart. If one finishes first I point and click to direct him back to his own pan. If that doesn't work, the dressage whip is used to tickle the knee. Horse thinks it's a biting fly and backs away.

Saddlebag is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 10-21-2014, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 525
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I think I can combine what you all are telling me and lock him up when I have to feed alone, and then on my husband's days off, he can help me to teach Buddy the right/respectful way.
Buddy listens to him better anyway.

We still have a small lot partitioned from when our mini mare foaled at the end of the summer. I can put him in there pretty easily.
I just don't want that to be all I ever do to keep feeding time peaceful.
I already have a lunge whip and a dressage whip both, so we'll give it a try on the weekend.
If it doesn't go well, I definitely want someone else with me to assist so we can put a stop to this now before he could become legitimately dangerous.

BadWolf is offline  

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