Feeding is submissive - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 12:33 PM
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That's interesting. I often let my mare investigate with her nose and now its her way of getting my attention and "pointing" at something. However it is worth noting that she had to be taught a lot of human interactions.

Honestly I think it just depends on the horse and their upbringing. They are more complex than given credit for and smarter too. Some horses 100% need to know who is boss with each and every interaction. Some just need to know that if they do XYZ behaviours you will turn into a monster and put them in their place. It same with my dogs. I had to escalate and go really over the top sometimes to discourage bad behaviours. Now they don't even challenge or escalate at all because they just KNOW based off a few instances. Some will repeatedly test and that's natural. Some will test in small increments until they think they got you around their little finger and some will test "bigger" and more immediately.

I can feed my mare and pick her feet at the same time. I can lift her head out of the bucket to give her a kiss goodbye before leaving. That doesn't mean I'lll let her get away with snatching or barging me but instead of a big show it's merely a pointed finger and a whisper of "no no you wait right there madam" and she'll wait patiently. That's it. What each horse needs is different and some are so well mannered they dont need anything at all. Try to see what is right in front of you instead it'll serve you better. Horses live in the moment as well, afterall!
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post #12 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 01:07 PM
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If your horses' manners are getting worse and worse in your ownership, then there's something you're doing or not doing that's letting them think that you're not worth following. It can start with feed time, but only if you allow bad manners.

I walk in with a big stick, with a new horse. I don't even wait for them to show me I need it, I just go in with it. If they come within range I've been known to wrap the string around the hind end, because crowding at feed time is dangerous. It's MY feed until I say they can have it, not negotiable. I can walk in with my herd and know that I'm safe and they'll have good manners. Is it cruel? No. The horse can choose to give me the space I demand and never so much as have the stick waved in their direction. The horse can choose to crowd me, and that's the consequence, plus on top of that they can't have their food until they've waited patiently with a nice look on their face.

Feed time is THE single most dangerous time to be around a pushy horse. Make yourself safe. Carry a big stick.
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post #13 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 01:34 PM
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I have found treats work wonders. My horse has gotten much better about cleaning his feet once I started rewarding him.
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post #14 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by karens1039 View Post
I have found treats work wonders. My horse has gotten much better about cleaning his feet once I started rewarding him.
Food motivated horses make life so much easier!

My horse all pick up their own feet for me to clean them. I don't have to do much at all, they pick them up and put them down on command. Even new horses quite quickly seem to understand what I am asking. Then comes the treat...
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post #15 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 01:47 PM
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
I don't think it's a big deal if you ask them to sniff everything you put on them, but it shouldn't be necessary after the first time. It ends up becoming intrusive, and perhaps if you are in any way anxious it can transmit your emotion of unsureness by stopping the process, and pausing, hesitating, allowing them to take over this process mentally.


If they haven't reached around to inquire 'what are you doing?", there's no need to engage them in the process over and over again. Go about your business and do it with confidence and efficiency. Watch your own feet, keep your periferal vision aware of them, but just keep moving in a comforting and rythmic manner.
Honestly, my suggestion is you find a good instructor and take some lessons starting with working on the ground to basic riding. It will be money well spent. It will increase your knowledge and confidence, which is a really big deal. You have two hot breeds and you need to be confident enough to keep ahead of them.

Wishing you and your herd the very best.
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post #16 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 01:49 PM
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Atoka your Tripper is similar to my Sassy; she is very nervous even after many years of me never harming her. I think she was handled harshly and so now is very wary. Our greeting ritual is the same as yours

She also gives great horse hugs. I stand facing her rear, and stroke her neck she will curl it around and rest her head on my shoulder
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post #17 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by AnitaAnne View Post
Atoka your Tripper is similar to my Sassy; she is very nervous even after many years of me never harming her. I think she was handled harshly and so now is very wary. Our greeting ritual is the same as yours

She also gives great horse hugs. I stand facing her rear, and stroke her neck she will curl it around and rest her head on my shoulder

Makes all the difference, learning their preferred greeting rituals, doesn't it? He gives me two eyes... and then I have to let every bit of tension out of my body, let my shoulders drop, and invite him to me first... then we meet in the middle, then the hand must be extended and then I have to wait on him to tap it. When he does, it's ever so shy, barely there and gone... then the stroke down the face has to come next... then we're good. Skip it? He's just a worried mess.

But now... he gives hugs too. He creeps in from behind and lays his head over my shoulder and just lets out a big sigh... you know he likes you if he hugs you. T, my barrel racing friend, and her highly animated 9 year old daughter have both received unexpected, but very polite, hugs from him. Men still worry him though, except for my son... who for whatever reason... has the best energy around horses... and it aggravates me to death because he's not into horses at. all.
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post #18 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 02:27 PM
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I don't think feeding is submissive. Not at all. In fact, I use feeding time as a reminder to all of my horses that they eat at my pleasure, not at theirs. All of them have to back up and stand as long as I want (not usually more than a few seconds, though, TBH) when I feed them. This is also a good idea from a safety perspective.

I believe I got the idea from Cherry Hill, maybe from this book, which I would really recommend:
How to Think Like A Horse: The Essential Handbook for Understanding Why Horses Do What They Do
Her perspective is, "This is MY food, and as the gracious herd leader I'm going to share it with you, as long as you demonstrate that you accept my authority" or something like that.

Also I pick my horses' feet while they are eating. They learn to deal with it pretty quickly.

ETA: reading through the other posts now. I also give my horses a verbal cue ("good boy") and then set the hoof down gently. Seems more polite.

Also ETA: I get the idea of not picking while they are eating, but my guys only get fed if they come in from their pasture when I call them, and they have the choice of whether they want to come in or not (usually). Every time I feed them, I pick their hooves. Of course food is a big motivator, but I think that if they disliked it that much they just wouldn't come in.

Final ETA: If you are a new horse owner, having someone you trust come over and watch you work with your horses on the ground, and telling you what they see, can be really beneficial. I've only had horses for two years, and my first two are totally the kind to take over if they think you aren't worthy of leadership. I'm fortunate that I boarded and had people to help me out. Plus Horse Forum, of course!
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Last edited by ACinATX; 02-13-2020 at 02:44 PM.
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post #19 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by AtokaGhosthorse View Post
Makes all the difference, learning their preferred greeting rituals, doesn't it? He gives me two eyes... and then I have to let every bit of tension out of my body, let my shoulders drop, and invite him to me first... then we meet in the middle, then the hand must be extended and then I have to wait on him to tap it. When he does, it's ever so shy, barely there and gone... then the stroke down the face has to come next... then we're good. Skip it? He's just a worried mess.

But now... he gives hugs too. He creeps in from behind and lays his head over my shoulder and just lets out a big sigh... you know he likes you if he hugs you. T, my barrel racing friend, and her highly animated 9 year old daughter have both received unexpected, but very polite, hugs from him. Men still worry him though, except for my son... who for whatever reason... has the best energy around horses... and it aggravates me to death because he's not into horses at. all.
My son is the same! He has no difficulty seeing different leads, or diagonals or anything like that. Great with a video camera too, the horse always looks good. All the animals love him. Riding? Nope!

My Sassy is terrified of men and jingling things (keys, spurs, young boys!)
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post #20 of 21 Old 02-13-2020, 04:19 PM
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So much good advice here already - I'm still going to put my two cents in though lol.



Trouble with handling feet usually arises when a horse owner is timid - I wonder are your horses better with their front feet or rear? Horses that have been 'handled' by a timid/fearful handler tend to be more obstreperous with their hind feet than their front simply because we as humans have been taught that the back end is the more dangerous one!


It sounds like your horses are good horses that have discovered that you are reluctant to take charge of their feet so have decided that they will keep their feet to themselves thank you very much. The fix for this is make the decision to be fearless and confident, decide that today is the day you are going to trust that they are not going to kick you to death if you calmly and firmly assert your right to pick up their feet. Think very carefully about how you are going to position your body so that you do feel safe, run your hands down there bodies firmly and without hesitation until you reach the hoof you intend to pick up. If the horse moves away do not remove your hand, keep moving with the horse until it realizes that you are not going to be thwarted. If you are exhibiting a determined and confident demeanor don't be surprised when the horse suddenly lifts it feet for you - firmly grasp it and do your thing and then gently place it back on the ground. Rinse and repeat.


It takes a great deal of courage to over come these little fears that we have (and justifiably so!). A confident leader is everything to a horse and sometimes we just have to gird our loins, take a deep breath and decide today is the day I am going to be fearless (but not stupid lol).

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