I think I may have talked here before about how downright violent Presto is with his food. He’s polite enough about actually being fed, but as soon as the food is in his bucket and he’s left alone to eat, my god… it is like a demolition derby. He puts his feet in his bucket, he smashes into the bucket with his head, he puts his head under the bucket and tips it upside down. It’s loud AF, and food goes everywhere.
Over the year and a half that he’s been solely in my care, I’ve tried pretty much everything. Pan on the floor, pan in a tire, food dumped on top of hay, several different kinds of buckets and feeders and different ways of tying them all down. Shit, there’s even been duct tape involved. He can break anything, given enough time. I just kind of gave up and resigned myself to buying a lot of buckets and Sand Clear. And then I had oooonnnee last idea.
I saw a lot of very positive reviews for the Cashel Feed Rite feed bag, so I figured… why not. Let’s just try it and see. Best case scenario it works and keeps him from putting his feet in buckets/breaking things constantly, and worst case scenario it would be damn funny to watch him eat with a bucket strapped to his head. So I ordered a black one, it showed up a few days later, and I found myself feeling pretty optimistic. It was a nice bag, with a reinforced mesh bottom and lots of heavy duty stitching. The weak point was, IMO, the strap. It was kind of thin nylon with a plastic snap buckle. I figured if he was going to break anything, it would be the snap (oh how close I was to being right).
So, step 1, I took it out to the barn to let him wear it and understand how it works.
In order to get all the feed out of the bottom of the bag, the horse needs to lower their head to the ground and let the bag rest on the ground. I figured this was the part he’d have a problem with (he is a lot like me in that we tend to just kind of come in like a wrecking ball of chaos with no actual plan) so I wanted to teach him to put it on the ground to get the food. First I had to get him used to it being on his nose/head, which was no big deal. He’ll tolerate a lot of things when there’s food involved.
Once he was okay with just wearing it, I set it the feed bag on the ground, held a treat, and led his nose down to the ground and into the bag to get the treat. We repeated that a few times until he was seeking to put his nose on the ground to get the treat. Then I just put a couple handfuls of food in there, strapped it on, and let him go. He figured it out really quickly.
I sat there and watched him eat, feeling semi-victorious. He pawed half-heartedly a couple times, and walked a circle in the beginning, but otherwise the typical bucket-bashing behavior was gone. I had taken all the fun out of it, by giving him nothing to toss around or make noise with. He settled down and ate the food like a normal freaking horse, for once in his life. I was hopeful that we’d finally found a good solution for him.
But in some ways he is his mother’s child through-and-through, and I should have known that my optimism was misplaced. This is a family of destroyers, after all. Remember that time Sadie sat on Michelle’s truck wheel well and smashed it to shit? Or all the baby trees, freshly planted, that she snapped in half with her ass? A natural talent for breaking things – definitely genetic.
After dinnertime that night (his first full official meal with the feed bag) I got a text from the barn owner saying that he’d broken it. More specifically, he’d ripped the strap completely off one side.
Of course he did. I was 0% surprised by this of course, although I had kind of been hoping to get at least a few weeks out of the damn thing. I thought that first he’d learn how to flip it upside down and dump the feed out, or maybe fling it off his head. Or… ya know… break the plastic buckle, the obvious weak point. But no, he completely removed the strap from one entire side. Top to bottom. Ripped clean off. How? Who even knows. How does Presto do any of these things that he does?
One meal in the feedbag and Presto was right back to bucket life. Of course, at the new place his feed bucket is screwed down, so it’s not as fun and he can’t tip it over. We’ll see how long it takes him to break that one though (which will probably happen with his feet)… we all know it’s just a matter of when, not if. I give up. You win again, Presto.