The places where I’ve kept my horses for the past 20 years are mostly on town trail systems. The good news is that I’m able to ride on the trails. The challenge has been keeping trail walkers from feeding the horses.
I can always tell when people have been feeding them because Zelda is like the Walmart greeter — she’d be front and center when anyone came near the fence line. Yes, she’s obviously starving to death! Of course, people don’t know what to feed horses, which makes freeform feeding risky (especially for Curly who is prone to choke).
So far, at the new barn, Zelda has ignored the people who walk through the field (we use a town field for turnout which has a walking path through the middle). That’s good news because she’s too big to be begging for handouts from strangers. I don’t want her to scare anyone.
When I showed up this afternoon, Curly and Zelda were standing staring out the gate at the bottom of the field. Damn, I thought. Someone started feeding them. Zelda only flicked an ear when I whistled for her to come in. Usually, after a day on grass, she’s eager to come in for dinner and looks forward to her treat — half a baby carrot.
When I walked down the hill, I discovered it wasn’t food that had entranced them. Across the street, someone was lunging their horse. Horse TV. It’s time to put Zelda back to work!
2 thoughts on “Horse TV”
Horse TV!! I bet Miss Z was sending messages saying haha, you’re lunging and we’re not…
speaking of watching TV..my tabby cat, Diamond, watches TV. She only watches animal shows, though. The news doesn’t interest her.
I don’t know the answer to strangers feeding one’s horse. I’ve seen signs that say, don’t feed your fingers to the horses. That doesn’t seem to stop people. People either don’t read warning signs or they ignore them. The number one killer in Yellowstone National Park is NOT the bison…it’s the thermal pools. You can’t go five feet without seeing a sign saying BEWARE don’t cross the fence line, the pools are dangerous. And yet people routinely enter the pools only to die a horrible death.
The thing that scares me about ”well meaning passerbys” feeding “your cute horse, is his name Mr. Ed?” is that they’re not always feeding carrots.
If you talk to anyone who’s worked at a zoo, they can tell you what people try to feed to animals. My neighbor with the Lusitano stallion used to work at the San Diego Wild Animal park and has stories to curl your hair. Popcorn. Curly fries. Nachos with cheese. Gummy bears (more on that later). Cookies, sandwiches, it’s astounding. I read about a giraffe in some Southeast Asian country’s zoo that died and the autopsy showed it’s stomach was full of plastic bags. People were throwing bags of bread to the giraffe, plastic bag and all.
A few years ago, I was on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park in Washington State. A family was hiking in front of me and a wild blacktailed deer came out of the tree line and literally snatched a bag of Gummi Bears from the couple’s four year old boy. She then came to ME and I touched her nose!
It’s not only bad for the animal, it’s also dangerous. On that same ridge, a doctor was gored and killed by a mountain goat. It is unknown if the goat had been habituated to humans feeding it, because mountain goats are not known to be friendly and rarely approach humans. But the deer are and do. And everyone likes to feed Bambi.
We have a town farm and the farmer used to regale me with stories about what people would try to feed the animals. Sandwiches, cookies, and probably a few plastic bags. At my last barn, the owners old horse choked multiple times because people fed him things. They had to climb over a stone wall and a fence to do so. Yet, they never stuck around for the vet bill.