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December 20, 2008

Carrot Cake?

  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Hi Cherry,

I want to bake a carrot cake to feed my horse on Christmas but the barn manager says no way can I do that with him in charge. Whose right?

Bethany

 

Hi Bethany,

I had to chuckle at your letter because a number of years and horses ago I wondered the same thing. At that time I had a sorrel QH gelding and I wanted to give him a Christmas gift so I decided to make him a horse carrot cake - no eggs, flour, butter, just horse ingredients. I grated a huge bag of carrots, mixed in some molasses and bran and formed it into a cake shape. I proudly presented it to him only to have him take one sniff, turn up his upper lip and exhibit the flehmen response.

How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry HillFlehmen response is when a horse draws back their upper lip exposing their upper incisors. It is a comical gesture where the horse seems to be saying "Eeeeoooowwwwww" but it has a physiological basis. The position of the lips helps a horse to process a smell better so it is usually done when a horse smells something odd or pungent, like when a stallion smells a mare's urine or when any horse smells medication.

Anyway, I digress. So even though I used horse feed items that I had in the barn, a carrot cake was not my gelding's idea of a gift.

So I began wondering what would be a good horse gift but then it dawned on me that giving a horse a gift at Christmas in itself was anthropomorphic.

Anthropomorphic is when we attribute human characteristics to an animal or assume an animal views the world as we do. As if a horse would know Christmas is coming or would expect a gift. When we put Santa hats or antlers on our horses or hang a wreath on his stall, we are doing that for us, not our horses.

What would be on a horse's wish list?

So I put together some things, from a horse's viewpoint, that might be perceived as a gift and wrote an article that might give you some ideas:

Horse Gifts

But don't give up on the carrot cake idea.....maybe make it a dark chocolate cake and give it to your barn manager !

StablekeepingWhether your barn manager has the right to tell you what you may or may not feed your horse......here are my thoughts. First of all, I assume that if you are entrusting your horse to the care of a barn manager, then you have put a certain amount of faith in that person's judgment. If you are young or inexperienced with the care and management of horses and your barn manager is experienced and has your horse's welfare at heart, then he might say "no cake" because he is trying to avoid your horse getting sick (colic) from eating something that not part of his normal diet. Horses are most healthy when on a regular, predictable diet. If you think there is some other reason you and the barn manager are disagreeing, the best thing to do is talk about it.

Happy Holidays,Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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