A reader asked: On a school trip, my teacher's finger was bitten clean off by a horse. What could have caused the horse to do this?
This is the danger in hand-feeding horses--getting your fingers bitten. Yet most of us do it all the time without incident. Here's how to do it safely.
First, donʼt hand feed unfamiliar, aggressive, or anxious horses. Even gentle horses can end up injuring you. My vet told me a story about a client whose horse injured her breast because she had a habit of leaving carrots in her breast pocket and letting her horse pick them out with his teeth. Bad idea.
Second, keep in mind that horses have nearly 360 degree vision around themselves which makes it difficult for predators to sneak up on them. BUT they have blind spots directly in front of their noses and directly behind their tails. (See the image above.) If you offer a treat by holding it with your fingers, they canʼt tell what theyʼre chomping. Could be a carrot, could be a finger.
To hand feed horses safely, hold your hand out flat under the horse's nose, and place the treat in the flat palm, like the woman in the picture above is doing. Your horse will sniff and feel around with their lips to find the treat.
Better yet, put the treat in a bucket or other container, and offer it that way.
Here are my favorite horse treats!
Copyright Dec 16 2019 Denise Cummins, PhD
The Thinking Equestrian