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WWYD? re: strangers feeding your horses treats (sorry, kinda long)

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  • WWYD? re: strangers feeding your horses treats (sorry, kinda long)

    My guys are in a drylot with a run-in shed during the day while I'm at work, and the drylot borders the main road. For months I've had a lady periodically stop on the side of the road to let her little girl look at the pretty horsies. Sometimes they even have the grandma in tow. I've always either smiled or briefly waved at them. They've never gotten out of the car or even rolled down a window to say hello or ask if they could pet the horses, etc.

    Yesterday as I pulled in my driveway, they were parked on the side of the road, and recognizing the car, just went on inside to change clothes. By the time I walked back out of the house, they were climbing back in the car and all of the horses were now gathered up at the fence along the road, so I must assume they were handing out treats of some kind. I don't think this is a regular occurance, as none of my guys were even paying attention to the car when I first pulled in.

    What would you do? Just wait and see if it happens again and try to ask the people not to feed treats, or to let me know what they're trying to feed? I certainly wouldn't mind letting the little girl pet the horses; hell, I'd even be willing to give her a pony ride one day. (gotta encourage the horsie love!) But I don't particularly like when people feed treats of some kind without permission. Or would hanging one of the signs I've seen that says "please do not feed the horses" (or something to that effect)be better? I don't want the people to think I'm a b*tch, I just don't want them indiscriminately feeding treats without my knowledge/consent.

  • #2
    I hung signs that said something like horses may bite please do not feed. My guys don't bite but my pony has big lips and can suck your hand in his mouth before you know it and if they get bit I don't want someone coming after me because they were feeding my horses. My problem was that when people would see me come out they'd leave so I had to hang signs. It stopped after that, but if they stay around maybe go up and talk to them. Offer them to come by and ride if you want but just nicely ask for them not to feed them anything because it could make them very sick.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • #3
      I would definitely hang a sign right at the spot where they stop, as well as other places on the fenceline, but I would also try to wait for them to speak to them to explain how prone horses are to illness if they get too many treats or treats of the wrong kind. I would thank them for their admiration and compliment cute little girl for her interest and ask if they want to stop in at an appointed time for a supervised introduction, since you seem open to idea.
      If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


      • #4
        Your horses are what lawyers call an "attractive nuisance." If you have liability insurance, then you are covered for claims arising from attractive nuisances.

        No particular advice. You can hang signs. People read them sometimes. I'd probably try to talk with them first. As for offering pony rides.....how much do you want to see these folks? You could end up with regular visitors!
        Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


        • #5
          What Rallycairn said. My gelding is prone to mouthiness so I NEVER treat.


          • #6
            yea, what Ironwood said....

            I would post a sign

            either: no trespassing, or horses under strict diet, please do not feed, , or a sign that reads "Diabetic - under strict diet, please do not feed"

            I have a horse who is a "choke risk", her sign reads: "PLEASE DO NOT FEED - horse is at risk of choke"

            I would try to talk to them too

            they probably seem harmless, but, you wouldnt believe how quickly even THAT can go south

            best to keep you and horses safe from public


            • #7
              Signs, people don't read when it comes to horses.

              My horses are on a trail right next to a huge park. People come by all the time walking dogs, kids, etc. My horses are friendly, even more so since they get treats from people walking by. I'm not worried about anybody biting, they're good about it, the people have fun, etc. Most people ask, some try to give apples, which my girl hates anyway. I'll say carrots are fine, but just one or two since they get them all day long. Some people pull up the grass and give them a handful.

              I did have one lady try and feed my horse a dog biscuit, and when I said, um, no, I don't think that's a good idea, she got all huffy. LOL One lady thought my horse looked 'hot' and got the hose and rinsed her off. About 5 mins before I came by to ride! Luckily she was still there, I had a talk with her about that. Most people are pretty cool about it, things like that are pretty rare considering how many people go by there. The horses enjoy it, the people enjoy it. So I leave it alone.


              • #8
                I would go talk to them next time you see them. It doesn't sound like they're trying to do anything nefarious--they just don't know any better. To be honest, if you just educate them a bit, maybe even give them your number, they may be another good set of "eyes" watching over your herd. Maybe even offer to halter one of the horses up and let the little one pet him/her. (you might have a future horse crazy kid on your hands! You have to spread that disease around when you can!!!)

                I am not saying it's okay to feed other peoples' horses or trespass. Don't get me wrong. It's NOT okay. But I have found that if you just invest a little bit of time educating and making nice, you find yourself with a horsey ally. I think that being a bit of an ambassador for the horse world is a good thing if you have the time and are so inclined.
                A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                • #9
                  Put up a hot wire so that if they attempt to put their hands close enough for horse to eat either they get zapped or horse gets zapped. That means if they climb into your pasture they also get zapped.
                  Now in Kentucky


                  • #10
                    ditto the hotwire. They will ignore the signs, they will ignore your requests, and even if you're outright rude they'll keep feeding. The kind of person who will walk up to and feed an animal they don't know without talking to the owner first isn't the kind of person who is going to listen to reason or rules. But a good ZAP gets through to everyone.


                    • #11
                      I'm not against hot wire and such...but honestly, there are a lot of people who just don't realize that it's a bad idea/not okay.

                      Shoot, I've known horse OWNERS who show up with a bag full of apples or a bunch of grain when horse hasn't BEEN on grain as a Xmas present for their horse and horse proceeds to colic from all the crap. Or neighbors who think that dumping the grass clippings over the fence is a "nice gesture". Ignorance abounds. Common sense isn't so common.

                      I guess I like to take the friendly approach first. These people have seen the OP on multiple occasions, wave, etc. They probably assume that since she sees them and hasn't said/done anything, it's AOK. Further, OP doesn't know for SURE that the horses are being fed. All she saw was that the horses were gathered around. Mine would come to the fence and gather around out of curiosity--food or no.

                      <shrugs> I'm not opposed to the hotwire/booby trap tactics if necessary. I'm just not sure it's really necessary at this point in this particular case.
                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
                        Your horses are what lawyers call an "attractive nuisance." If you have liability insurance, then you are covered for claims arising from attractive nuisances.

                        No particular advice. You can hang signs. People read them sometimes. I'd probably try to talk with them first. As for offering pony rides.....how much do you want to see these folks? You could end up with regular visitors!
                        Hah, hah--around here, people seem to think the signs apply to everyone but THEM!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pal-o-mino View Post
                          The horses enjoy it, the people enjoy it. So I leave it alone.
                          I sure hope you live in a state with a very good equine liability law.
                          Ironwood is right, horse are an attractive nuisance and if the nice person feeding Dobbin gets kicked when Sparkles wants to get Dobbin to move so she can have the treats your farm will become their farm.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by realrush89 View Post
                            I certainly wouldn't mind letting the little girl pet the horses; hell, I'd even be willing to give her a pony ride one day. (gotta encourage the horsie love!)
                            As for the treat feeding, I would approach them the next time they arrive, and strike up conversation about the ponies, and then introduce to the conversation whatever you would like to convey about the treat feeding (i.e. "carrots are fine" or "please dont' feed them treats at all")

                            As for the quoted line above...in this day and age of EVERYONE being sue-happy, do you REALLY want to open yourself up to the parents of this little girl suing your pants off if something were to happen if little Betty rode your horse and got hurt?!
                            "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
                              Your horses are what lawyers call an "attractive nuisance." If you have liability insurance, then you are covered for claims arising from attractive nuisances.
                              This is good to know, and what I was going to ask about. What if mouthy horsey bites little girl's hand?

                              I think signs would work; it worked for those moms/dads/siblings/grandparents at the barn who would feed my horses treats in the stalls. There were enough going through the barn that I couldn't possibly catch them all to talk to them individually, and no one ever asked permission.


                              • #16
                                I had this issue when my horses were home. They were visible from the road, so certain people thought my yard was a freaking petting zoo.
                                I tried being nice, but firm. I tried being bitchy. Nothing worked.
                                Then one day I came home to them holding a toddler over the fence (with a top strand of electric) to she could "kiss the horsie". Horsie in question as a 3 year old Percheron. Assclowns.
                                I asked them repeatedly to stop, to no avail. I found them having a picnic on my stone wall (near the pasture) and the final straw was when I found them in my barn. I notified the police, put up gates, no trespassing and private property signs. I couldn't bear the thought of the toddler being bit in the face by my playful, mouthy horse.
                                I now board my horses where they can't be seen from the road.
                                ~Rest in Peace Woody...1975-2008~


                                • #17
                                  Best to always try the Nice route first. Most of the time it works!

                                  For the thicker skull that doesn't get it, do what my pastor's daughter did: She bought a fly mask and on the forehead, in RED permanent marker, wrote: I BITE! Drifter wore it every day

                                  Rude neighbor never offered Drifter another treat
                                  Last edited by ChocoMare; Nov. 15, 2012, 03:17 PM.
                                  <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                  • #18
                                    I ask of the OP: What did people tell you when you were a little girl and wanted to pet a horse or give a horse a carrot that didn't belong to you?

                                    Treat these people the way you would want to be treated.


                                    • #19
                                      Personally I would put up signs and if at all possible run a hotwire fence 10 feet away from the outer fence. Make a buffer so that they can look but the horses can't get close enough for them to touch or feed.


                                      • #20
                                        Put up a strand of hot-wire, and then one of those yellow signs that says "Caution, Electric Fence."

                                        People don't EVER believe that signs not to feed animals are intended for them. But most people have an irrational fear of hotwire. Plus, it will discourage the horses from hanging over the fence.