Never Stand With Food In A Field Of Horses

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Herd behavior is the structure horses use to make sense of their lives. This structure is how they avoid danger, as each horse is responsible for warning others of something coming. Immediately the rest of the horses blindly follow before identifying the problem. This behavior is normal.

Horses in the wild have access to food throughout the day. There is no “feeding time,” but in current horse ownership, people often create this phenomenon, and the horses are willing to go along with it, especially when the food you bring is sweet.

Sometimes feeding horses in a group reminds me of a shark feeding frenzy where horses attack other horses because of gluttony or greed. Triumph goes to the aggressive, and battle scars go to the weak.

Humans are often the ones with the battle scars, and I have even known some who have died while feeding horses in a field. While carrying several buckets of grain, the person walks among the horses distributing the food in separate piles while feeling invincible from an attack.  

But horses in a frenzy become blind to details and feel the presence of another horse coming to take his food. He must fight for his pile, or he will go hungry. The hind hoof splits the air in a threatening gesture to the approaching horse, but instead of the planned miss, the hoof connects with the person feeding, walking in blind bliss or in a drunken stupor. This oblivious attention is how Ned died on the farm I worked at in my early years, and another groom just this month escaped with only a hoofprint on his back. Since then, I have heard many other stories of death or serious injury of people caught standing in a field feeding hungry horses, forgetting about Laws 1, 2 and 3. Regardless of how many years you have done this, remember that it can happen and that all the young people’s eyes are watching you for guidance—those young people with less experience than you will become a statistic.

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