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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!
Ok so for those who don't know I have a rescue horse who had been severely neglected (starved) for a period of about 9 months, now we have got him back up in condition,however....
The issue I'm having is him being pushy at feed time! I appreciate that he went without for a long time but he's been getting regular food for some time now and as I enter his paddock to take his food to his feeding tray he try's to block me off and snatch. Now I curved this behaviour slightly by giving him a push and stern "no" but he still try's it at least once a day ... Any ideas to nip it in the butt completely??
I'd prefer nothing that requires physically striking him as he's had enough of a rough time already.. Other ideas fully appreciated ::)
One other thing he's not rough and dosnt bite me just snatches at the food and blocks my path, every other area of training he is a complete angel does everything that I ask of him with absolutely no hesitation... He's always very gentle other than this and usually very respectful of my space.(just wanted to make that part clear :) )
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If this was my horse, past abuse or no, I'd take a short whip (like a dressage whip, carrot stick or short lunge whip) into the pen with me when I went to feed. The moment he tried to push into my space or snatch feed, he'd get a sharp tap on the chest and a firm "No" or "Ah!" If he didn't back off, I'd up the pressure until he did get the message. The second he backs off, release the pressure and act like nothing happened, unless he does it again.

Another idea, if you're coordinated enough or have someone to help, would be to take a lead rope with you and spin the last 3' of it (not the end with the snap) in a vertical circle to your side or front (whichever he's coming toward). He'll run smack into the spinning rope and back off. You don't have to spin the rope hard or fast, but hard enough that it gives him a good bop.

The behavior he's exhibiting is completely disrespectful and should not be tolerated. You pushing him and saying "No" is too soft and it's letting him win because he keeps doing it. It's time to up the anty. He's not going to hate you or think you're abusing him if you use the tools needed (a whip or crop) in the correct manner with no emotion behind it. Horses don't think like that. They think in terms of "Who is in charge in this situation?" You give them clear body language and sometimes physical direction and they will respect you as the leader. Right now, your horse is in charge at feeding time and he knows it.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok this makes sense. I think i will try the lead rope idea.
I actually use a similar idea to lunge him and he responds well (swinging lead rope that is).
Thanks.:)
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Hi,

Regardless of his past treatment, he is a horse & he is pushing you around. You allowing this is teaching him that his behaviour is OK & most likely it will escalate as he becomes more sure about this & wants you to be more 'respectful' of him. You do need to nip this sort of behaviour in the BUD before he starts... nipping you in the butt. (couldn't help using your term there):lol:

Agree basically with Drafty. I too would be prepared to carry a big stick, whip or such, so you can ensure he keeps at a 'respectful' distance without your having to get close enough to get kicked or bitten. You're not going to just go hit him with it or some such tho, but use it as a clear & effective tool to 'back up' your requests. If he has learned well to respect your space & listen to your bodylanguage without food around, use the same signals & if he ignores you, get assertive & back it up with the whip. I'd generally start with more assertive, focussed bodylanguage & smacking the stick on the ground towards him, but if he ignores that, I would start smacking it on him. In no uncertain terms. You don't have to beat him with it, but it has to be firm enough that he takes it seriously. If you're going to use punishment, it's more effective & fairer if it's strong enough to be really effective the first time, rather than just nagging with a light push. The aim is for it to make him NOT want to keep trying. Consistency and timing are vital, to teach him clear boundaries so that he understands & *responds* rather than reacting in fear.

All that said, I don't think punishment is the best method of teaching, it should be used judiciously & in conjunction with reinforcing the Right behaviour. You can think of it as punishment buys you time to train the right behaviour. I'd be focussing on reinforcing the horse for being 'respectful'. Ie put his feed down & 'own' it - don't let him near it & drive him off, but as soon as he accepts this, then you can walk away & allow him to have it. I find using food treats apart from meal times to train also really helps them learn their 'manners' but you've got to be clear & consistent, and assertive about boundaries & rules whether you use reinforcement or punishment.
 

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I aways carry a whip when i go into corral to hang up hay nets never have to use it. Both horses have learned to stay away from me while i hang up nets. Feeding grain i dont into corral to give them their grain i slip feed pans under the fence.

If they get rammy about the grain and start fighting then i walk away and put grain back in feed room....Tough luck for them no dinner or breakfast that day. Only have done this 2 times they now stand at their spot on the fence and wait patiently.
 

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Don't let him get away with it just because of his past--though it doesn't sound like you are!

Everyone has given you great advice, which I agree with, and I just wanted to commend you for the awesome work you're doing. Rescuing a horse is no easy task, and you know he appreciates you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thankyou everyone food for thought ;).

Loosie it's your expression to use whenever you feel fit haha.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ps I should have apologised in advance I'm typing on an iPhone and it consistently auto corrects to the wrong words haha
Still I'm claiming that one!!
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I practice driving a horse off of their food, every once in a awhile, just for good measure.
If I am bringing them grain or hay, they must move away from me, stand for a sec, away from me, then I put it down, but stand over it and disallow them to have it . I may turn and move off and let them have it, but then, I might go back and move them off and "claim" it for a bit, and make them wait until I decide to pretend to be bored and walk off. it helps to solidify that you will eat what and whre you want, just as the herd leader does.
 

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regardless of their past any horse I work with MUST RESPECT ME! Using their past abuse as an excuse only exacerbates the situation. If you cut old Dobbin too much slack because they were abused/neglected, can cause worse behavior in the long run. My opinion is you MUST get on top of that behavior now! Demand respect always and your horse will be the better for it. There is a B-I-G difference between discipline and abuse. The hard part for us as the humans is to find thatvery fine line. Like so many on here said, use a training stick, dressage whip, or lariat to drive them off of their food while you are in the pen, allow them to eat when YOU want them to eat, I hope this helps.
 

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Just remember, you're not telling him he CAN'T eat, just that he needs to back off and not eat right this minute. He didn't starve to death in those 9 months, he won't starve to death in the 10 or 15 minutes each feed time that you ask him to back off and stay out of your space.
 

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I hold the whip about waist height (horse's chest height) and swing it side to side as I approach the feeding area. If he doesn't move, the whip will connect. Not real hard but enough to make it unpleasant. I don't hit the horse, he walks into it. Only when I am out of kicking range do I lower the whip to allow him to eat. If this becomes part of your feeding ritual he will soon hang back and wait.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
PROGRESS!!
Thankyou everyone :):) took one morning feed with a swinging lead rope and he is now waiting like a gentleman :) haha hooray :)
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