I'm loving how our feeding time rituals are going. The horses are getting into a more positive pattern now, especially America and Captain. Li"Bert"y and Renegade still want to creep or sneak in uninvited but their intention is a lot less now and it's much easier to interrupt their idea of creeping in. A light flick of the stick and string does it.
I had them on a circle around me and they were outside my personal space (the distance of the cs and string) and they lined up like the hands on a clock: 12, 3, 6, and 9. That gives them enough space to not feel the need to defend their space or their food and I act as the alpha, chasing away anyone that finishes early and tries to encroach on anothers food bowl. I have to laugh when they seem so content to eat their own food, faces in their own bowls, not checking out the neighbors food bowl, and knowing they can eat in peace. It's such a peaceful, almost pastoral time. I love listening to them quietly eating.
I also have to giggle when they finish and I'm gathering the empty bowls, they all line up at the fence in their proper positions, waiting for their after dinner flake of hay...no squabbling, no dust, just happy horses waiting quietly for the second course of their meal!!