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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just wanted to ask about foot stomping while eating. My boy just started doing this in the 3 rd week I've had him. He's in a paddock and he is hard fed from a plastic tub. Is he stomping his foot to warn me to leave him alone or is it an excitement thing. I used to groom him when eating, but now I'm thinking I should leave him alone. Should I feed and leave him to it or should I not be worried. I'm a bit scared the stomp will turn to a kick or a bite if I misinterpret what he's wanting.
 

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Many horses get very excited at feed time and stomp or paw while eating, and it has nothing to do with you. If your horse swings its head to nip at you or raises a foot like a kick warning, then you've got a problem you need to correct.
For us, feeding time is their time to eat in peace, and we use the time to give them a quick look over for cuts, scrapes, etc. even though they don't mind being groomed while eating.
 

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You can't just look at one thing to tell what a horse is telling you. You have to look at any and all of the other things they are doing. How are his ears? Are they pinned or up? Is his tail swishing, like swatting a fly? Either of those could mean that he is irritated and wants to be left alone.

If he is just stomping or pawing, he may be excited or is trying to find a comfortable position to eat. Is he lame in that leg? Are his hooves uneven or need a trim?

It is possible that he is testing you. Horses in a new setting or herd know that they are at the bottom of the pecking order. After some time, be it a couple weeks or a couple months, they will start to test the waters if the can move up, whether it is with new horses or new owners. This doesn't only show up at feeding time but may start there. Has he changed in behavior while leading or riding?
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If the pan is at about waist height it should be on the ground. It's hard for a horse to paw when it's head is down and the ground is the natural height for a horse to eat.
 

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I've seen many horses stomping whilst eating from a bowl. It's an excitement thing - or a habitual thing. Often the bowl gets tipped over - which is an annoying thing :)
 
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You can't just look at one thing to tell what a horse is telling you. You have to look at any and all of the other things they are doing. How are his ears? Are they pinned or up? Is his tail swishing, like swatting a fly? Either of those could mean that he is irritated and wants to be left alone.

If he is just stomping or pawing, he may be excited or is trying to find a comfortable position to eat. Is he lame in that leg? Are his hooves uneven or need a trim?

It is possible that he is testing you. Horses in a new setting or herd know that they are at the bottom of the pecking order. After some time, be it a couple weeks or a couple months, they will start to test the waters if the can move up, whether it is with new horses or new owners. This doesn't only show up at feeding time but may start there. Has he changed in behavior while leading or riding?
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definitely

body/ear language will give you more insight on his intentions

if he is stomping and pinning his ears -- run him off his feed aggressively --- it's your food and you are allowing him to have it but only if he minds his manners
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
His shoes were taken off a week I ago so I do know he is a little tender at the moment. I took great notice in his ears this morning and they were back but I think he was more listening to me brush his mane. I have noticed though if I walk away he doesn't do it too much at all. I think I'll give him more space in future thanks for all the tips though everyone, this site is so invaluable to all us newbies!
 

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Another thing that newbies don't know is that we LOVE pics (hint hint) LOL
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Did you say you are brushing while hes eating?
I also do this and discovered brushing different areas of my horse will cause him to stomp his foot as he would if a fly or bug was on this area. Thats the connection i made certain areas would get a stomp reaction every time haha.
Dont know if that helps at all, but just sprang to mind when i read the brushing thing.
 

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Couple of thoughts - first, I have two horses on the property who stomp when they are eating out of sheer excitement. One of them even strikes a pose like a bird dog at the gate when they hear grain being poured in the barn and he is waiting to be let in! The major adaptation we have made is replacing the conventional feed bin in the barn with a full length "kick bin." Several companies make these, so ask at your local store or with your barn builder - the barns here are both Barnmaster so we use them. If you try to feed them with a pan or bucket, you will spend way more time than you want to picking it up, and you won't have a way to track whether supplements or medications in their food are actually being ingested.

Second, recommend giving some thought in general to what part of your care routine occurs while your horses are eating. We all get stuff done while they are chomping away (I, too, use the time to check the condition of each horse as part of the daily routine), but because they are so accommodating, if a task is performed only while they are eating, then a) they never become trained to develop the patience and submission for you to accomplish the task when they are not eating, and b) you may not know how they act without the literal carrot in front of them. A little off topic, and may or may not be applicable, but food for thought if it helps.

Good luck!
 

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At feeding time I leave them alone. In the wild, one horse doesn't touch another that's grazing unless it's looking to cause trouble. I respect their space.
 

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I agree with saddlebag - a horse should be given its feed and left in peace.
I'm not saying that its OK for a horse to be food aggressive when you feed it or if you want to go near it when its eating but they deserve to be left alone to enjoy their food
Heaven help anyone who messed about with me when I was eating!!!
I think you'll find the foot stamping is just down to excitement and even a form of impatience in a greedy horse because they see that food as the highlight of their day.
Its not something that I would worry about
 

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I have one that started to paw the air. I immediately removed the pan which sits on the ground. When his hoof was on the ground the pan was returned. It took a few feedings but he got the message. The other one began pawing at the ground. "Maybe if I dig a hole the feed will come faster". This resulted in my turning my back and walking away slowly until he quit. He soon learned how that works but does test me periodically, only to get the same reaction from me.
 

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I agree to:

1. Let the horse eat its feed pan stuff in peace.
2. Drink water in peace.

Once they kick back and light up a cigarette (they're eating hay:), if I need to hunt for ticks or scrape bot eggs, that's when I do it.

As far as stomping, pawing or throwing feed? No no and no. I expect table manners. It takes a huge amount of patience and PROPER discipline but horses can be corrected from essentially being ten year old children banging their silverware on the table. Some horses get it faster than others.

I've had my Arab 20 years. There was a point in time he decided it was a cool thing to start pawing his floor for his supper.

I quickly broke him of that but, for whatever reason, a few weeks ago he lost his presence of mind and started pawing the floor - lollol

I was preparing everyone's feed pans, that area being directly across from his stall. I turned toward him, raised my voice and said "Streeterrrrrr! you STOP that!". He pulled his head up, ears went forward, the Betty Davis eyes appeared and he looked straight at me as if to say, "I wasn't doing anything but I'll stop anyway". - lol lol

Apologies to those who think it's ok to let a pawing or stomping horse go. I can, however, see a bit of logic in that if the horse is eating outside with other horses and that situation makes it difficult or impossible to correct the pawing.

I don't tolerate bad table manners from children; it's a lot less grief for me to teach a horse to be respectful while he's waiting for his meal:p

It's very rare that I have to whap somebody's knee cap to get my point across but I have been known to do that, if it's the leg that's being bad.
 

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I looked back at the OP's first post just in case I'd got it wrong - but I hadn't. her horse stomps the ground when its eating its food in the paddock - I can't see that as something you could really do anything about - or worth doing anything about if its not an aggression thing
I don't put it in the same category as a horse that 'demands' its food by scraping at the floor - something that irritates me so much it has to be sorted
 

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I looked back at the OP's first post just in case I'd got it wrong - but I hadn't. her horse stomps the ground when its eating its food in the paddock - I can't see that as something you could really do anything about - or worth doing anything about if its not an aggression thing
I don't put it in the same category as a horse that 'demands' its food by scraping at the floor - something that irritates me so much it has to be sorted
I agree as long as the OP would be able to quickly recognize if the pawing escalates to something a little more than somebody's nervous knee syndrome:)

Some years back, I lived in SoCal's Low Desert area with three of my horses. I was single and drove 77 miles one way to Long Beach to work. If I didn't roll out the driveway by 5:15 AM, I stood a good chance off being late for work at 8:00 AM.

Meaning, I did not have time for any antics, including foot stomping that might tip a pan of food, I had no time to get more, so then I had to hope that horse didn't steal somebody else's food.

I spent a few weekends and plenty of evenings teaching the three of them table manners, so I could at least get them off my mind driving down the 90, a/k/a "Highway From H*ll to get to my job.

That's what prompted me to reply like I did but you are correct, if the horse is in the paddock and the stomping doesn't get ear pinning and tail swishing added to it, it's best for an un-experienced person to let it go:D
 
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