Horses are concrete thinkers. They are imaginative, sure, but they rarely do something for no reason. While that reason my escape us sometimes, it never escapes them. Concrete thinkers.
When I'm around them, I do things the same way. I have a reason for everything. Take bucket feeding, for example. (You can take a look at this on the Simple Equine Teaching FaceBook page under the Video tab. Go to page 2. There you'll find a vid called The Bucket Brigade.) Sure - the buckets make feeding a whole lot easier. Sure - the buckets save time and energy. But for me, those things are not nearly as important as the reason I'm using them.
For me, horses are not about saving time, making things easier, or worrying about wasted energy. They take up all of those things and then some. They are a labor of love. No one in their right mind should have a horse if they aren't committed to hard work, taking a lot of time with them and using a lot of personal energy!
That's a topic for another day.
Back on track! The reason I use the buckets is to teach the horses to think about me. When I come into the paddock to feed, my horses stand back and allow me to work, because I don't care to be crowded by large hoofed power houses who could squish me in a moment. Therefore, I feed who I want, when I want, because that's what I want. Keeps them on their toes and stops the bickering that can occur when dealing with four legged children.
I carry four buckets into the paddock, they watch me to see who will be called to dinner first. They are so proud when they're chosen! They come for their bucket while the others stand back and wait. No one is allowed to detain or threaten another. Instead, they are thinking about me. Then I choose the next, until all have their dinner.
This is not a rushed affair. It's quite casual and well-meaning. The best part is that this feeding method causes the horses to think about me. Did I say that already? Let me say it again - it's that important!
While the horses eat, I time manage by bringing in the manure cart and fork and doing a bit of clean up. The horses acknowledge that I am with them while they dine, but more importantly, they look to me when they are finished.
Yep, that's right! I won't remove a bucket unless they bring it over to me. Each one in their own time, wanders over, lowers their head and politely asks for the bucket to be removed. Every one of them hangs around to be scratched or they'll show me an area that needs attention.
This is a special time for all of us. We each get quality time together, one-on-one.