So- when at horse shows, and occasionally at home, my horses are often fed in feed pans on the ground. Why is it that when this happens, they ALWAYS, ALWAYS repeatedly paw at the tub and spill their grain everywhere? It just seems so silly to me, and I can't figure out why they'd do this. I also have one who paws madly when he is fed in ANY container, on or off of the ground.
It doesn't really bother me much, it just struck me this morning when I was feeding that i had no clue what they might be thinking.
My filly does this alllllll the time. I've been working on getting her to stop by backing her up and making her wait after she paws, often getting her to stop eating for about 30-40 seconds. This has helped A LOT. She barely paws now, and when she does she stops when I make a noise.
In general though, it also doesn't make sense, haha. She won't eat the food that falls out anyway!!
I figure is it BECAUSE THEY CAN, and they "know" it drives you nuts! This is the hard part, YOU have to change how you do things, feed them differently or nothing is going to change.
I use nosebags, feedbags, whatever you want to call them, for grain feeding in those situations. Can't spill or waste the feed, he gets everything I wanted him to eat. I don't feel upset about 'wasted money' for lost grain in the dirt. Horse is not later grubbing thru dirt, muck, to find those tiny, FILTHY grains as his entertainment.
You do have to remove nosebags promptly when horses finish eating. Trying to drink with nosebags on is BAD, no water drainage!! Used correctly, nosebags are a BIG HELP, grain saver, horse gets their serving whether they walk around wearing it, or dive to the ground to push feed into their mouth. All of the horses learn quickly to put their nosebag on the ground to find every last oat. Remove when done, hang nosebags up to dry, ready for the next meal. They are a good investment, no lost feed, each horse gets his full serving, bully horse can't steal, no spillage. A great tool if you don't mind the extra time putting them on and off.
I got a nose bag too for when we travel. She was NOT pleased because she thought it was a grazing muzzle and also ran around like a fool once it was empty because she didn't realise I would come take it off.
I have a cheap eBay mesh one because I think it would be more breathable than the canvas. They work well, except not so much with the pink powerdy u gard. That stuff was EVERYWHERE and I think she inhaled some... We fixed it that time by wetting it down, and now she's on different supplements anyway.
Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)
Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010
Horses paw instinctively like walking and eating grass, then they are rewarded for the behavior with their food. They don't have enough reasoning to know if they spill the pan they don't get the food. Most horse are never hungry enough to learn to conserve their food.
With our young horses and even older ones we do not let them paw by either not feeding if they are pawing before the feeding (go back when they are standing still to feed them) or making them move if they have feed bags on (love those feed bags!) so they learn they can walk if they want and not paw. In the stall we will just back them up away from their food if they start pawing then let them eat if they stand. Does not take too long for them to figure out they are rewarded for standing by getting to eat.
Takes some time but these methods have worked for us as we have 70 horses and none paw when they eat.
Just to be clear; mine don't paw until AFTER i've given them their food- i know better than to reward them for "begging" or throwing a tantrum. They will paw WHILE eating...well, a few of them anyway. 3/4 of them are well behaved angels who eat very politely. I figure it's just an individual thing and usually not an issue unless they dump everything over. I was just wondering if anyone knew WHY they did it, as it seem to be something silly and pointless to me.
-edited to add- i work full time and do not have time to stand there and supervise dinnertime. it's just an observation, and it doesn't really BOTHER me...it's just silly!
So rather than continually put oneself in this situation of frustration, why not just feed them from a bucket? Totally not worth wasting even a moment of time over. Horses do inexplicable things when we try to apply human standards to their actions. Humans who expect otherwise are also engaging in inexplicable behavior.
My Irish mare got to her feet after her birth, nursed, walked to her mother's feed tub, and promptly started eating AND pawing at the ripe old age of about 45 minutes. I figure that's just the way she came from the factory.
Deltawave, we had the same experience with a little rescue last spring. She had gotten up, nursed, ventured to the feed tub, and pawed away. She's done it ever since. It's just how she eats. We just keep a corner of her stall mat free of shavings and she eats there. Then she cleans up everything she spills.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.