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How is it that parents and caregivers get so caught in the unsatisfying cycle of encouraging/cajoling/begging our children and animals to eat?

“Try it, you’ll like it,” becomes our rallying cry as we search for ever-more interesting, nutritious food. There are days, it seems that we will do just about anything to get food into our kids of all species.

The photo I’ve included here is my grandson on a day when eating wasn’t high on his hit parade. He was just learning that food came in options other than liquid, and frankly he was pretty skeptical that it was worth his time.

Miss Pepper can relate.

Lately she’s been skeptical as well, doing the horse equivalent of covering her head with her hands.

She’s not eating that much. She puts her head into the feed pan, and I swear just moves the bits of grain around. I see her chewing, but the volume of grain goes down really slowly.

She’s not a fan of the medication we have to give her.

Even though it makes her feel much better. She isn’t able to connect those dots.


So she takes a bite, chews it into paste, looks around at her friends, swallows and sighs. Then maybe, it ‘s on to the next bite.

All the while, I’m watching – hovering really.

She’ll walk away as if she’s forgotten what we’re doing here. We’ll turn her back to eating, and she’ll take another few bites. I’ll hold the pan so she doesn’t have to stretch her neck so far.

It’s become a game – one that we’ve reinforced. How did that happen?

Oh right. She does something, we respond in a predictable manner, and she learns.

Thanks B.F. Skinner for pointing that out!


Bud, on the other hand has no problem finishing his grain.

And Pepper’s if he can get to it. He’s an eating machine. Our only concern with him is that he eats the little pink capsule we place in his food every day.

It’s Pergolide, which has made an amazing difference in his health.

He can eat an entire pan of grain and avoid that little pill. Some days I’ll find it on the ground or at the bottom on an empty feed pan.

He’s a discerning fellow. But he’s reasonable. We can get the pill into him with enough food.

So this is what my life has become.

Pill pusher to horses.

Hovering mother of the pasture.

I can think of worse ways to spend my time.





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