Zelda takes mealtimes seriously and she is definitely not sharing. She has the evil mare stare down to a science and she rules her roost with nasty looks and a raised hind leg. You see, Curly was too close (yes, that’s Curly way in the background and that’s what Zelda is reacting to. She is not allowed to give me the mare stare.)
Sometimes she will take a run at Curly, but it’s like a choreographed dance. In all the years they’ve been turned out together there have been no bites, no missing hair, and no hurt feelings.
Some horses don’t care that much about food. When Freedom shared a pasture with Willow, I would sometimes find her sharing his grain, right out of the pan. That’s one of the great ironies of life. Freedom gets the most food and cares the least. Zelda gets a relatively small serving, so she’s guarding it with her life.
For the past 15 years, I’ve mostly fed the horses from pans on the ground in the pasture. It works fine as long as 1) the horse who is most possessive about food gets the most and 2) There is a clear hierarchy among the horses turned out together.
Zelda will share hay, but only after she’s eaten some first.
Long live the Queen.
Note: Zelda tried looking at me that way a couple of times early on in our partnership. We had to have an alpha mare discussion. Food aggression is dangerous and you can’t have any horse, let alone a horse as big as Zelda, getting into your space over food. Years ago, we had a pony at the barn who became food aggressive. She would charge you, and it got to the point where you had to carry a whip when you fed her. Luckily, Zelda decided I was scarier than she was. Either that or she figured out I didn’t want her food.