Friday, January 16, 2009

Should other people treat your horse?

I have a situation that I am more than a little annoyed about.

Basically, the barn owner is allowing people wandering by the pasture to give the horses treats through the fence — and he didn't consult the owners first. If he had, I would have said NO.

I don't like the idea of strangers feeding my horse, particularly when I'm not there, for many reasons. First off, I don't want him to become accustomed to getting treats from people at the fence. Before this started he would barely even pay attention to the people at the fence. Now he approaches all of them — which would make him a heck of a lot easier to poison, or even capture.

Second of all — and my biggest problem right now — is that I don't want my horse to get mouthy and pushy. I do give him treats myself, but he knows he has to behave himself when I give them. Now he's got people feeding him who will give him treats no matter how poorly he behaves — and as a result, he's getting pushy even with me. Yesterday and today I was constantly reprimanding him for mouthing me, shoving my hands and my pockets with his nose, etc.

And it's not just Panama. Yesterday I saw his girlfriend, who is normally the most gentle horse I've ever known, head-butt the barn owner in the back to push him out of her way. And today I watched her try to bite the instructor who gives lessons on her. The alpha has gotten to be more pushy, too — he's taken to standing in the tack/feed room door when I'm in there again, something he gave up weeks ago when he finally realized that 1) I don't like it and 2) I won't give him anything.

I've only noticed the change in the last couple of weeks, so luckily I don't think this has been going on long. The problem is fixing it. On one hand I feel bad about confronting the barn owner, but on the other hand I know he had absolutely no right to tell people they could feed my horse without consulting me first!



At January 16, 2009 at 10:04 AM, Blogger Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Those are all good arguments and you have every right to request that people don't feed your horse. Tell the barn owner how you feel and see if he can post a sign that says, "Please do not feed the horses." Horse owners have to educate non-horsey people on how their actions affect such sensitive animals.

Every time my horses see my neighbor, they go nuts. I've always wondered what she does to them to make them act that way. Maybe she's feeding them, because when she comes near the fence they start biting and kicking each other out of the way.

At January 17, 2009 at 9:07 PM, Blogger Laughing Orca Ranch said...

How frustrating. I have a neighbor behind our barn that sometimes has grandkids visit. When they do they like to come visit all my animals, including the llamas, goats, sheep and my horse. All of my 'woolies' stand at the fence and beg for attention and treats and the kids love it (I can them with binoculars).

But my horse isn't as impressed. She usually turns her back and ignores people who come to the fenceline, unless she knows my riding friend neighbor or if I'm out there with the people who come to visit.

I'm very grateful that she does this, especially because I know how tempting those treats might be, and most horses would beg for the treats.

I hope the sign idea works. While I was at the hospital for my knee, a man came walking out with a ciggy lit, even though there are no smoking signs every few feet around the hospital entrance.
Then he stood, not 2 feet away from a large white sign with bright red letters that said "This campus is NO SMOKING!"

Obviously signage doesn't always work. Frustrating when some people blantantly ignore them.


At January 19, 2009 at 4:15 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I wasn't able to catch the barn owner and talk to him over the weekend. I'm planning on spending some time out there tomorrow, though, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Signs don't always work, but the barn owner is also there a lot, so maybe a combination of a sign and him talking to people directly will help.


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