On Friday, Compa, Ziggy and Cru had an uneventful night, but Saturday morning feeding held it's share of excitement...
I was up early to check on everyone. I don't know why I bothered. They were all quite fine. Each horse looked at me sleepily, matted with bed head leaves and debris. Apparently they rested well. I was happy to see that no one used a pile of manure for a pillow!
I threw hay as the sun cast it's first rays. Compa felt it was necessary to attack the hay cart with pinned ears, wildly aggressive and highly focused eyes and lots of teeth. I reciprocated by banging the cart against his knees until he backed off. After having his knees bumped several times, he strutted off and then whirled around to try again. I guess he figured since my back was turned, I couldn't hear him coming. He was surprised to discover that it was very easy for me to push the cart in reverse and still have the same effect on his legs. One time after running into the cart, he was so frustrated that he spun around and shoved his hind quarters at me, fully prepared to double barrel me. Oh REALLY? I ran the cart into his hocks before he had the chance to get his feet off the ground. Startled, he ran off, but I don't think he got the message. No one, I repeat, NO ONE is allowed to act this way when I am feeding. Ever heard the expression - don't bite the hand that feeds you? Well, apparently Compa has not!
Ziggy and Cru stood far apart, facing the commotion in rapt attention. They knew the consequences of coming close to the hay cart before they were invited. Their expressions were really quite comical. Like "Hey dude, you better get it figured out, cuz she's not gonna give up and she won't give you anything!"
Minutes later, Compa was still acting out. I wasn't going to punish the well mannered horses, so I invited them in and kept Compa away. The two boys quietly walked up to the piles they wanted and made nasty faces when Compa attempted to chase them off. Several hooves pounded the air near Compa before he figured out that this is a shared feeding routine and he was not the boss of it.
Rather than acquiesce his position and relent to the rules of the herd, he decided to throw a temper tantrum. Now, this was an all out, full blown nasty bit of work, all because he wanted a particular pile of hay. Cru had plans for his pile - he was going to eat it and he made it clear to Compa that he wasn't going to share or be chased off. Compa then tried for Ziggy's pile, but that was a no go. There were two other piles of exactly the same hay, but Compa didn't want those. He only wanted a pile that was occupied. Fascinating!
He started snaking his head around and biting at his stomach. I paid close attention to that. My first thought centered around colic; that Compa had upset himself to such a point that he made himself sick. He would trot between the piles he wanted and nip himself and kick up at his belly. The two geldings calmly munched their food, barely giving Compa a twitch of an ear. When this behavior did not produce the reaction Compa hoped for, he stopped and got down on his knees and flipped over on his side. He rolled several times, got up and started the whole thing over again. He worked himself into a highly agitated state and I was sure he needed a vet. But then I realized something. Compa was not in any physical pain. Colic horses who act this way emit a great deal of pain. Instead, Compa was in mental anguish because he couldn't have something he has always had - the feed totally to himself!
I went back into the house, prepared a cup of tea, grabbed a Luna bar and headed out to the swing. I sat and observed this poor creature work his way through this tantrum and come out the other side. Compa didn't understand that there was plenty for everyone. Compa certainly couldn't understand that in the real horse world, everyone shares. You see, normal horses know that in order to survive they need greater numbers. So the last thing they would do is starve one of their herd mates by refusing them food.
An hour later, after all of the piles were eaten by Ziggy and Cru, Compa quietly walked out into the pasture and ate of the meager grass. He recognized that his fit of temper did him absolutely no good. He must have spent some time thinking about this, because when I went out to throw the mid morning hay, he stood back and watched the process. By that time, Carli and Berlin had joined the herd. Compa observed everyone standing apart, patiently waiting for me to hay. He saw me invite the horses in. He stood there and watched as they chose a pile and quietly started eating. No commotion, no big deal, just food brought by the leader.
Compa walked over to a pile, lowered his head and ate.
No one bothered him.