In a lot of ways our horses are just like us they can carry some of the same emotions we do. If you don’t believe this just walk through a barn around feeding time and watch. One horse might be angry and demanding feed, one might be pacing the stall in fear of not getting feed and one might be just standing, chilling out. If I’m ok with the negative behaviors then I don’t have a problem, I’ll just walk through and feed. But if I want to change a behavior I don’t like then I must look at what or who is causing it.
The fearful horse has probably had some experience with being locked up without feed and a very inconsistent feeding schedule. A horse doesn’t become fearful about feed if they have been feed on a regular schedule. A regular schedule means feeding at the same times every day and the same amount of feed. This is especially important if you are feeding two or three times a day and not just putting a round bale in the pen. Any good horseman knows the importance of a feeding schedule. Lots of people claim to be good horseman but their skinny stressed out horse will tell on them as just being a horse owner without much knowledge about horse behavior and needs. Inconsistency will always build a fearful horse even in riding.
The angry horse may have had the same treatment as the fearful horse or it may have gotten away with pushing people around and now thinks it’s allowed to always get its way. In this case the horse says “feed me first and I might just take a dive at you when you do feed me”. These horses have usually been handled by people who don’t understand that horses must have boundaries and that the human must set those boundaries. The unfortunate thing that happens with this situation is the more the horse gets away with pushing boundaries the angrier and more aggressive it may become. Not setting boundaries will always turn a horse into something aggressive. A true horseman knows how and when to set boundaries so they don’t set up this dangerous situation. The horse owner that doesn’t recognize when a boundary has been crossed is setting the horse up to become pushy and then aggressive.
The calm horse indicates to me that it has a good foundation built by a real horseman. It’s calm because it has been on a consistent schedule and it has had consistent training and handling. Fair boundaries have been set with this horse and it understands them. There are a lot of horse owners in the world today but it seems there are less and less good or great horseman. The next time you run into one pay attention you just might learn something;)