I have a mare who came from a "troubled past". Initially she was unrideable and cranky from being passed through multiple owners in only a year. After a year of working with her and tons of trail mileage she is an absolute pleaseure under saddle (even in a strange group of horses) and on the ground, however she cannot be turned out with other horses since she is so food aggressive. Her weight is excellent so she only gets a multi-vitamin daily and 24x7 hay in small hole hay nets. She never leaves a scrap of hay anywhere! And can graze like no other horse ive seen! Ive tried turning her out with others that she knows well but they end up bearing the brunt of her aggression. She grooms with other horses over the fence but thats as close as they can get now. If there is something I could do to fix it I would but she is happy as she is knowing she has her own space so I work around her with that one issue.
That is a nervous habit some horses acquire and not especially from neglect.
If it gets bad enough, like a horse stressed from a pushy neighbor that makes faces at it in the stall next door, it can become more than one kick and if it gets to hitting walls, it can cripple a horse.
A few horses are more apt to get into such a bad, nervous habit, a bit like cribbing and other such.
I've observed this in my mare. She will kick out once or twice -- a fairly evil kick -- when first given her grain. It's not aimed at anything but you don't want to be in its path. She is slightly less likely to kick when the stall next to hers is unoccupied, but in any case she's kicking away from that stall because her grain bucket is mounted in the corner next to the shared wall. Luckily she's small, and the stall is large, so she doesn't ever connect with the other wall.
And no, she's never been starved in her life. But before I had her, she was "second in command" in her herd and would only allow certain horses to share a hay pile with her. And it seems like she did spend a lot of time and energy enforcing this.
My horse when young 1-2 yo) was thin and stabled in such a way that his stall neighbor could rich over and eat from my horses bucket.
When we bought him, we moved his bucket out of reach of his neighbor, but he had already learned to bolt his food. This horse was very sweet but I got a real suprize when I stayed in his stall after putting in his grain. He tried to kick me! Luckily the stall was so small that he couldn't stretch his leg, so although I was momentarily squashed by his butt against the wall I was not kicked.
To this day, 22 years later I do not get into his stall if he is eating his grain. Just not worth it.
He is very protective of me (against other horses), will hover over if I accidentally fall off, but I don't mess with food time, nor do I get near him in the herd if there is horse-on-horse social issues. There's seeing the wonderful specialness of your horse and then there is common sense.
I have a little mini mare that was starved. She was so thin the doctor wasn't sure she'd make it. She has no strange behaviors related to food, although she will clear the room of all competitors if I have mints.
I have one that was a starvation case that AC had seized years ago. He is a stall kicker at feeding time.
I have a starvation case that just came in last week. She was a show horse that was purchased at auction by the Amish in late October and ended up on the AC4H page right before Christmas. In five weeks she was starved down to a body score of two due to lack of food and overwork.
Even after two weeks at a quarantine barn getting groceries, she still came in emaciated. She is cribbing voraciously. She has been here for almost two weeks now and is already starting to put good weight on and her coat is getting shiny and dappled. Her cribbing is also starting to subside a little bit but it is still there.
Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Bernard M. Baruch
My old STB Beau came to me from a situation where he was not very well cared for... not outright abuse, but neglect. He's not an easy keeper and he would suffer for that in the winter. I don't know if this behavior is a result of that- or if it's just his personality- but he has, what I call "A phantom kick" and that is a reflexive kick that he HAS to let out every time he's fed.
Interesting... my newest OTTB does that, sort of, meaning sometimes he'll kick out, or sometimes he'll just lift the foot and put it down. He was thin and very food aggressive when I got him last summer, but has slowly been getting better.
My Hackney pony Kouma was a "sort of" neglect case. My shoer had given him to another client - a 70yo lady whose health prevented her from feeding the 2nd Winter she had him.
Her "help" wasn't , so when I first met him in February, beneath a thick wooly coat, he had prominent ribs & hipbones.
I could not bring him home until May, but brought her a 50# bag of whole oats on 2 occasions so he could put some weight on.
He was in slightly better weight when I got him to my farm, and by November, when shoer came to trim him he asked me (tongue in cheek):
"So? You're planning on butchering him?"
So feeding him up to a good weight was not a problem at all.
He maintains weight on 4oz of whole oats twice a day, supplemented with BOSS, biotin & MSM plus 10-15# decent grass hay fed 3X.
*friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon: Steppin' Out 1988-2004 Hey Vern! 1982-2009 Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
Elijah, the warmblood, was initially retired "to pasture" before he came here. He did not do well there. He was a show barn baby and had no pasture sense. The other horses ran him off of the round bales and I am told he lost 300 lbs while there. When he first came to me, he was quite food aggressive. I taught him NOT to kick out while eating by teaching him a command, "feet on ground" which means all four feet firmly on the ground, not moving, NOW. (He is wicked smart, so it took me all of 90 seconds to teach him that.) But he would still pin his ears and get very irritated if anyone got near him while eating. So, I brought him into a stall at feeding time, with one of those hangover feed buckets. He would start to eat, and I would start to talk to him, rub on his ears, pat his neck -- and he would pin his ears and get all agitated. Whenever he did, I pulled the grain bucket. Would only give it back when he settled down. He had to stand there and let me touch him, and be nice about it, if he wanted to finish his meal uninterrupted. Nowadays, he will not only let you groom him, pat him and talk to him while he's eating -- he will even pull his head out of the bucket and chat with you for a few minutes before he dives back in.
Cooper, the OTTB, was a rack of bones when I got him. He never showed any sign of being food aggressive, but he will be highly agitated if you take him away from his grain bucket at feeding time. I only did that once while he was at a boarding barn. The girls had dumped his grain into his bucket right before my lesson. I didn't want him to eat right before we worked, so I pulled the bucket. Oh, we worked alright -- as in, he worked me! He was a total brat, and the lesson was no fun. So ... I just don't do that anymore!
He also is a Hoover when it comes to hay. There is not one straw left in his stall when he eats his hay. In fact, it looks like you never even gave him any! (This is something I think he knows and tries hard to convince you that he was forgotten and should get some more!)
Have had a number of them. As far as refeeding goes, I always start with alfalfa, teeth and deworming as soon as possible.
One was very food aggressive in his stall. I told his new owner when I sold him and she told her husband who apparently needed to see just HOW aggressive the horse really was... Horse grabbed him by the arm and moved him around a bit. Yes, I warned you!
I dont usually try to rehab that problem, just respect it. Over time it usually fades but its hard to fix and a fight I am not sure I can win so why go there.
"Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
--- The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.
My Diva was starved as a baby, and while I got her this Sunday, in good weight, with a shiny coat, she still has remnants from her past life (its been almost 5 years since she was rescued, as a baby too weak to even stand up). She can be very food aggressive, and is always eating grass, like its her last meal. I feed her a pretty sloppy dinner, because otherwise, she inhales it. I've also been sitting quietly in her stall, as she eats, so she gets used to me being there. She gets very worried when she eats, swishing her tail, and always looking behind her.
So, anyone else? What do feed your previously malnourished horses now? Do you worry about ulcers? Do you give them any special supplements? How about ground manners? Diva has some issues with respecting space, but she's getting better by the day.
I have a horse who was starved as a foal, and she's coming 17 now. She came as a skinny 2 year old and she rebounded to be a rather obese 3 year old. "Easy keeper", turns out. but she also inhaled her food and then managed to sweet talk her way into the food bin of her very food aggressive (apparently not to her, though) crusty TB paddock-mate. It took her a long time to eat food at a normal rate, and that really happened when she learned she has her own stall. If fed with other horses, she still inhales her food and tries to eat theirs. In the stall, she very much dislikes when other horses can see her eat and she gives a convincing "stink eye", but she's learned that her food is her own. She was never aggressive with people, though. I could take her off her grain if necessary.
She is very food oriented still. If you graze her, she eats normally but when you pick up the lead as if to signal "OK, we're going back to the paddock now" she'll grasp at grass like she thinks she'll never eat it again. She's also good at doing "dodge grabs" for food when you least expect it. The best was when I lead her into the barn past some ornamental plastic flowers and plants that were set up for a clinic and she flung her head ot the left to get a mouth full of....plastic and cloth. The look on her face was priceless as she spit it out. Actually, just the other day she was found having gone through an electric fence to get at hay (and she's in great condition). Food makes her world go 'round.
I didn't feed her any differently than the other horses and she seemed to do just fine. She never had a problem with ulcers or colic (knock on particle board).
My gelding. I don't know his full history, but he was a bit skinny when I bought him, and I presume he has been skinnier in his life.
He's definitely a bolter. He gets very little grain, though, as he's a pasture puff now.
He's very stall protective and loves to make faces. (Though it's usually just posturing.)
He and his pasture underling (pony) get multiple hay piles and he still herds the poor pony around, dictating where and when he gets to eat.
When I first got him, he became so attached to me that he was constantly tuned in to where I was. I could be across the property, visible only through a long, dark stable aisle, and he would be screaming for me. I think I gave him security that he hadn't had in a long while, if ever (and extra food!).
We've since moved to better barns. He's no longer insecure and nervous. He doesn't seem to worry about his meals or have the same sort of obsessive need for me. But I know he adores me. He's my firstborn and he'll always be taken care of!!
So, anyone else? Me! Bonnie scored a 1-1.5, covered in rain rot and stunted in growth-she grew 6" after I got her. Kitty scored a 2-2.5
What do feed your previously malnourished horses now? Minimal grain, hay in nibble nets, which barely slow them down-they still finish before the non-nibble net horses in the barn.
Do you worry about ulcers? Bonnie yes, Kitty no.
Do you give them any special supplements? Ground flax, cocsoya and raspberry leaves for both. Bonnie gets licorice root (ulcers), slippery elm (ulcers),paprika (fading black)
How about ground manners? Bonnie is extremely food motivated- learns trick almost instantly-but can be quite pushy and food agressive. We have learned to live with her quirks, but I must ALWAYS insist on correct behavior- even a little leeway and she gets snarky fast. Kitty is very sweet- she was not truly starved, just not fed high quality food while nursing her foal, and seems to have less issues from it.
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I have had two of my own and helped rehab a couple where I used to board.
The one starved (so thin we weren't sure she'd survive the hour long trailer ride) yearling was a wreck. Caught back up and then some by the time she was 3 and I don't think ever had any issues as a result. Tho she was always a little on the slow side and I wonder if that had something to do with it.
My mini was rescued so thin he could barely walk down the barn aisle without falling over. He was 11 at the time (I got him at 14). He never had any issues that I could attribute to starving, rather than just being a mini. LOL
I got Remy, my now 10 year old Morgan, as a yearling. Probably scored a 2 - 2 1/2, covered in rain scald. He had great, great ground manners but to this day is what I'd call food aggressive. He has never, ever done anything but if you didn't know him, you'd think he was going to eat you alive. I don't let him get away with anything which is why I think it's stayed in check. Poor guy didn't leave the hay feeder for almost 3 days when he arrived. Could barely keep any weight on him despite pouring the feed to him up until he was 5. Now he's a typical keeper.
I bought a 4 year old, 14.3 hands ranch colt, that was not starved that I know of, but in a cold and snowy February was thin.
We assumed it was because of the tougher winter.
He measured to grow to a good 15.2 hands, which seemed impossible to the vet and us.
We remeasured him at the vets in June and he was a full 15.2 hands.
Yes, horses can grow a lot in a short time.
He was a wonderful, kind and soft horse to train and had the most willing, polite manners you ever wanted.
I say that, while starving of course can make a horse have health and temperament quirks, those really can be found in all horses, many are not necessarily because they went thru xyz before.
I don't remember any of the starving horses we rehabbed to have any special food aggression problems with humans or horses or being any more of a vacuum horse than others that were never starved.
What I will say is that we never feed any but hay when there is more than one horse together.
Seems that feeding grain in groups tends to bring the pinned ears and threatening over that precious resource, like kids scrambling for dropped candy.
When we have to feed any grain regularly, which is not often, we separate them for feedings.
It is interesting to hear the stories of those that did have horses with specific problems.
I would think Cowgirljenn is who would have the most experience here, having been thru not just a handful of neglected/starved horses in a lifetime, like most of us have, but in bigger numbers.
My boy was severely underweight when rescued by his former owner. I do worry about ulcers - at the moment he is on aloe vera juice, and we recently completed gastrogard (recent hospitalization, stress, etc...) He eats a low-carb grain from Progressive, with added diet balancer for nutrients, and topped with Envision for fat.
His only thing is a pawing-type behavior - he tends to stretch out a leg and hold it out while eating. I haven't even bothered with correction because he doesn't paw or bang, IMO it is harmless. He has a piggish nature in general though, so he does take a few regular corrections from shoving his head in your space when dumping grain...
I own one. He used to get very, very upset if he was not in his stall at feeding time. If I was out riding, he would dump me and run back up to the barn. Now days (10 years later), I generally try to accommodate his anxiety, but he is usually good.
He is food aggressive towards other horses, and for a while had to have his feed bucket away from other horses to eat. He will try to attack another horse through stall slats if they show any interest in his food at all.
If I had to show around dinner, I would usually feed him a snack before I rode. If he has less hay than he thinks he needs, he will inhale it. If there is a ton of hay, he will just pick at it, as he knows it will still be there when he needs it.
His food aggression did translate to other horse aggression. He has a large bubble and is pretty dominant in the pasture. However, I don't find him a threat, and if you touch him on the shoulder when another horse is near him, he will unpin his ears and not try to kick. He did used to have issues with horses running up behind him (think hack classes in the hunters) and earplugs helped tremendously.
He has to be brought in before other horses. Otherwise he will start running.
He sounds really high maintenance but he's not. I've had him 11 years and he is a pleasure to be around. He is also an air fern.
I have one I adopted from a humane society after a seizure of a bunch of starving TB's. She's an angel to ride or handle. But food aggressive if any other horses are around. She's aged, not much left of her teeth. Now that she has her own stall with a wall shared with only one other horse, she is thriving.
She gets soaked alfalfa pellets and TC Senior in her stall twice a day, and a round bale outside all day. She's never offered to hurt a human but paws and kicks if she thinks another horse is coming near her food. Also does not like to be looked at
by humans while eating in her stall.