My job is to study and read behaviour in horses, and I have to say I am always extremely disappointed to see people doing things to their horses whilst the horse is trying to eat their much prized daily bucket feed/s, or when the haynet is just put out etc...
Now you might not be aware of this, but from the horse's point of view, I have yet to see a horse who enjoys doing anything but eating their meal at feed time, and therefore I find it extremely unfair and disrespectful of the animals needs, for handlers to be trying to groom horses, or pick out hooves, or wrestle covers onto horses etc...when the horse is trying to eat his/her meal.
This is because I see lots of annoyed, and frustrated expressions on horses faces when this is being done to them, including pursed lips, pinned ears and grumpy and annoyed expressions, which often go unnoticed by their carers.This type of negative interaction sets us up for failure with the relationship with the horse, as well as spoils the horse's enjoyment of their food, but more importantly affects their eating habits, as it's this that can often lead to why horses rush down their feed, and we certainly don't want to encourage them to be bolting down food of any kind, as it has a very high risk of choke when horses eat too fast, plus it can lead to a host of other issues including the biggest killer of all domestic horses, which is colic.
To try to put this into human terms...... just imagine how unbelievably irritating it would be for you to be bothered by someone combing your hair or putting your trousers on when you were trying to enjoy your favourite meal....now that doesn't sound very nice does it, so we ask that you simply leave your horse alone when he is enjoying his feed, and I guarantee that you will have a much happier and healthier horse for it, as well as s/he will acknowledge your understanding of their needs surrounding this, and give equal respect back to you in relation to this, plus they will have time to chew every mouthful as to get the very best uptake of the nutrients from their feed with a much lower risk of choke.
As always this was written with the horse's best interest at heart so we can all enjoy a happier and healthier relationship with our equine friends.
PS-always try to make sure the horse eats from the ground or low down too , as to improve digestion as this is where nature intended him to eat from, so his body is set up for this.
THE PHOTO SHOWS OTTO SAVOURING HIS EVERY MOUTHFUL OF HIS BUCKET FEED