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Handfeeding

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  • Leslie Desmond
    Hello Sandy, The reason for my adamancy is this: I spend most of my time at these seminars coaching people in the eradication of habits and troubles that are
    Message 1 of 13 , Apr 5, 2001
      Hello Sandy,

      The reason for my adamancy is this: I spend most of my time at these
      seminars coaching people in the eradication of habits and troubles that are
      primarily associated with hand-feeding their horses. Comparatively little
      time gets spent inputting effective feel until the problems associated with
      the old feel of a hand-fed-based relationship is resolved---- meaning:
      cured.
      That often doesn't happen until treats are no longer fed by hand, and those
      that are expected in a bucket are waited for patiently. This can take a long
      time once the expectations are firmly rooted in daily routines and a
      family's tradition around horses.

      When the following unsafe habits show up, it is nearly always in horses
      that are fed by hand. See what you think.

      -Pushing on a person at the shoulder, ("Out of my way, where's the carrot?")
      -Bumping into the person with other body parts, including the head (Move, I
      need the apple over there. Give it over!)
      -Moving when mounted (You yield when you're at my shoulder, what makes you
      think I understand any better how to stop and wait ...(read that as
      respect )for you now?)
      -Moving when saddled (Same as above)
      -Trouble of various kinds at the tie rail, including pulling back and
      throwing him or herself on the ground (If I don;t get what I want from you
      now Im going to move into pressure to get it...the world yields, you taught
      me that!)
      -Pawing the ground of stall/corral walls, side of trailer, etc. (I want that
      damn carrot right now.)
      -Chewing wood / (If I can't have those carrots, which I can smell and see
      and I know are headed this way soon, I'll just gnaw on this wood until they
      get here.)
      -Weaving (Hurry up man, where's the chow.)
      - Biting (Can't tell if that's a carrot or not, so I might just as well try
      it and find out.)
      -Striking (You feed me today, I bite you tomorrow. You hit me for that, I
      strike you for that. You feed me later, I like you again, until I don't.
      When I strike, I finally get my space and get you away from my face. I don;t
      like getting hit in the face because I can't guess when your hand is there
      to feed me or whack me up side the snout. Striking is my best defense
      against your offense.
      -Rearing (see above, times two)
      -Kicking (You hand feed me, you love me, you crowd me, I crowd you, you hit
      me, you hate me, I never know what's coming. I know if I kick you, I can get
      some space. Im a horse and I need my space.)
      -Refusal to be caught in the pasture without grain (Bribery is bribery, and
      I know it.)
      -Refusal to be caught & haltered (the deal you taught me to participate in
      is
      this: you bribe me, I move you. I eat your carrot, you lunge at my face with
      your halter outfit and trap my head. Barring that, you call your pals and
      run me into a corner where I have 6 choices. Jump out, kick you, squeeze
      past you to freedom, face up and strike, face up and be caught, or stand
      tense in the corner, head up, breath held, trapped, while you---also tense
      and not breathing struggle to get the buckle done up before I drag you
      around.You know a lot about the last choice, which ensures that I do too.)

      -Difficulty being bridled, clipped, doctored (Confinement is associated
      with bribery and what happens after that. Thanks anyway doc, see ya.)

      -Biting the halter and the leadrope (Babies, puppies, kitties, colts all
      teeth in their own way. Chewing is chewing...OK! Here you are! carrot,
      finger, apple, coat, apple, stall door, curry comb, play toys on ropes in my
      stall, nother finger, rope, halter, saddle, reins....gee what fun, biting is
      great, biting is natural, biting is encourages by you, until it isn;t, and
      then I don't get it.)
      -Refusal to lead (Bribe me, that's what you've shown me about movement,
      because that' s what you understand about my willingness..........((SO FAR))
      --Unwilling to come up off grass without a fight (You feed me, I move you,
      that's the deal. You've taught me that you move me two ways: with food, or
      force. You've shown that, so go on and pull. Im just as hard to stop when Im
      running for the same reason. The lessons about what to do with my feet when
      slack is offered into the rope are learned right here: You pull, I pull.
      Pound for pound there is no contest, mistah. Go on missy, pull all you want.
      Grass was never greener and Im going for it. Oh, now we're going riding?
      Well tallyho, baybay!)

      There are a number of other un-useful habits a horse learns under saddle
      from the people who bribe them on the ground. These include:

      -Moving when mounted (see above, this is taught on the ground.)
      -Rearing (I can't recall rearing when you didn't pull on the reins. What I
      learned about rearing I learned about the way force was applied to my sides
      and my head and my mouth on the ground. When Im good you feed me a cookie
      right out of your hand. When you're mad at me for doing the disrespectful
      things you've taught me, you hit me. You yell at me. You poke me. You call
      me bad things and tell people Im awful. You taught me what I first learned
      about you by offering me food from your hand. Now you hate me because you
      are afraid of me. You can't see your role in shaping my actions and
      expectations. I don't get it, but I can rear up to get away from it. )
      -Unwilling to stop or turn when the slack comes out of the rein (I learned
      this being dragged here and there, leaned this when you grazed me on a
      tight rope or with the lead chain pulling right across my nose. )

      Reader stops here, may wrinkle brow, scratch head and mutter
      ......something. And may or may not ask......."All THIS? From simply
      offering the poor horse a carrot?"

      Pretty much.


      Why not experiment. Give it one year. See if, after refraining from
      hand-feeding COMPLETLEY for 12 months, if these problems don't dissipate or
      completely disappear. One reason for this is that people don't realize how
      much time they spend out of position when offering hand fed treats. These
      are most often given directly in front of the horse's head, or crowding him
      at the shoulder. Every day, horse loving people are teaching their horses to
      beg for food, crowd for food, paw for food, move you out of the way for
      food, step on you for food, drag you here and there for food. These habits
      are plenty unattractive, but worse yet, they are categorically BAD habits. I
      say BAD. Bill would not say BAD. He never said BAD about anything. He would
      say NOT THE BEST. I certainly agree. What makes them so is that they are
      intrinsically unsafe. When the horse is taught to take over and then
      rewarded for doing so with hand-fed food ....even by, we'll have to assume,
      people with the very best intentions, it doesn't mean that either the horse
      or the person is consciously participating in a rude relationship.
      Nevertheless, so many unsafe things a horse is capable of doing around a
      person has deep roots in learned disrespect.

      The rude part of it occurs at the standstill and the walk. The dangerous
      part occurs at the trot or lope, in the trailer or the cross ties, or under
      saddle, when the horse in high gear, in fear, in a moment of uncertainty
      when he resorts to the hand-fed foundation he had and operates with the
      basic
      (taught) assumption that the person is going to get out of the way.

      Blatant disrespect for a person's space, no matter where thy are, is the
      main mark that hand-feeding leaves on a horse. Better to never get started
      on it.

      Sandy this is the expanded version of why I no longer take handfed horses at
      my clinics. Im tired of it. Tired of hearing myself talk about it.

      Id prefer to help people work on things that are connected to good
      horsemanship. Hand feeding has no part in that.

      It's important that people are proud of their horses, no matter how they
      look or how they are bred, no matter the age or the performance record.
      It's important that people take genuine pride in the quality of time they
      spend with their horses, and with themselves and others. Its important to
      take care of your horses' feet, coat, health, tack, your truck, your trailer
      and, most of all, yourself. If we can agree on that, then its perhaps
      easier to understand how bribing your horse with handfed treats creates,
      ultimately, many situations that contain an unacceptable level of risk.
      Horse owners, stable help, breeders, show grooms, ranch and farm caretakers
      all lovingly perpetuate disrespectful behavior towards people by teaching
      the horse that they (themselves) will yield to that horse when he advances,
      demanding food.

      One needs only to ask a trusted friend to observe them carefully around
      their own horse for 15 minutes to gauge the extent of the rehab one might
      want to consider in their own routines. Ask a friend to watch you closely,
      ask them to count the number of times that you move around the horse to
      avoid getting moved yourself. Ask them to take note of how many times in 15
      minutes you push up against a horse that is crowding you. Hopefully people
      will understand more clearly why I take this so seriously.

      Once this information is clear to people, once the cause and effect is
      obvious, which to most it soon becomes, then to continue hand-feeding and
      coping with the troubles it inevitably leads to, just becomes a great waste
      of time. Since we have so little of it, we might as well press on with the
      business of handling and riding through feel.

      Besides, Ive noticed that they enjoy carrots and apples just as much from
      the ground or eaten from a bucket. In my case, truth be known, I really
      don't do it for them. I enjoy that they enjoy it so much, that I must
      confess that when I do feed them treats, I feed them because of the good
      feeling it gives me.

      Sincerely,

      Leslie Desmond, Reformed handfeeder.
    • Elvira Lanham
      Hi Sandi, I d also read about not hand feeding, when I first got the book and also heard it from an instructor who I ve noticed since getting his copy of THTF
      Message 2 of 13 , Apr 5, 2001
        Hi Sandi,

        I'd also read about not hand feeding, when I first got the book and also
        heard it from an instructor who I've noticed since getting his copy of THTF
        is saying and doing a lot of familiar things from the book! I'm not
        complaining! Anyway, I conveniently ignored both of their advice, as I
        figured I didn't give my horse MANY treats and she was so polite about
        them, that it wasn't a problem, right? Well, then I started to notice that
        I wasn't going into the paddock without food and I had one particular light
        bulb session about 2 months ago when I thought to myself "I'm using treats
        because I don't think that I'm interesting enough for her to stay with or
        do things with" and this was a real light bulb! If I didn't even believe
        that what we were doing was useful, and stimulating, how was I going to get
        her to think that?

        I've had this horse for over 10 yrs now and we have done so many different
        "ways". In the last few years I've really started to look for and try to
        patch the holes in my horsemanship. It makes you very humble, maybe too
        much so if you are like me and tend to just feel bad for every wrong thing
        you've ever done. So, I decided I would stop substituting treats for my
        less than ideal feel, but I would cut myself some slack also. I've
        improved, I'm still learning and well, I'm all she's got so the two of us
        need to muddle along together and offer each other the best that we can.
        So, in a nutshell, I was using food to make up for feeling I was
        inadequate. Now, its just me, and so I get to find out what she really
        thinks of that. So far so good.

        Regards,

        Elvira.
        __________________________________________________________________

        Elvira J. Lanham
        Biological Sciences
        Flinders University of South Australia
        GPO Box 2100
        Adelaide South Australia 5001

        Tel: +61 8 8201 2805
        Fax: +61 8 8201 3015
        email: elvira.lanham@...
      • Sandi Johnson
        Elvira says: Elvira, after reading your post and the other great posts on this,
        Message 3 of 13 , Apr 5, 2001
          Elvira says:
          <<So, in a nutshell, I was using food to make up for feeling I was
          inadequate>>
          Elvira, after reading your post and the other great posts on this, I've come
          to the conclusion that what you just said is so true for me. That is
          exactly what I was doing because it seemed Loki and I just weren't getting
          anywhere, I know now, I am not alone and there is reasons for it.
          Sandi & Loki
          NW Arkansas
          Sb2john@...
        • ginsr@earthlink.net
          Please, everyone. Print out Leslie s post and make lots of copies. Put it somewhere where everyone can see it at your barn. When some fool rips it down, put
          Message 4 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
            Please, everyone. Print out Leslie's post and make lots of copies. Put it
            somewhere where everyone can see it at your barn. When some fool rips it
            down, put up another copy. Burn it into your memory and recite it when
            they pass a rule to not allow you to post it.
            And if you recognize yourself or your horse in there anywhere, carry it
            around in your pocket and read it at least once a day.

            This is something that is important. Some folks have the knowledge and
            skill to make handfeeding a non-issue.

            A fairly large percentage DON'T. Even if you're one who does, why not be a
            good role model for those who don't.

            Gail I.

            "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for a good man to do nothing."
            - Edmund Burke
          • ginsr@earthlink.net
            Oh, and be sure to include the bottom part where it talks about copyrights and all of that. Gail I. (rather passionately jumping the gun - sorry, Leslie!)
            Message 5 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
              Oh, and be sure to include the bottom part where it talks about copyrights
              and all of that.

              Gail I. (rather passionately jumping the gun - sorry, Leslie!)

              "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for a good man to do nothing."
              - Edmund Burke
            • Nadine Chounet
              I am really glad this subject of hand feeding came up. When I got my now riding gelding he had been handfed some and was an occasional hand biter and a pusher
              Message 6 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
                I am really glad this subject of hand feeding came up. When I got my now
                riding gelding he had been handfed some and was an occasional hand biter
                and a pusher (he would also bite at your pockets). All of that just went
                away when I started working with him with feel and created space around
                both of us, and ONLY ever fed him in his bucket in his prescribed
                feeding place.

                I have a new guy here now. An 18 month old gelding that was allowed to
                "play" with people as a baby and was extensively handfed all his little
                life. He is beyond obnoxious. I have started doing groundwork with him,
                but am still very hampered by deep snow, so am basically letting "the
                boys" (two older geldings) teach him some horse manners; a thing he also
                had no experience with. I am seeing some little changes. I see him
                thinking about the feel I am presenting to him (you stay in your space
                and I will stay in mine. Stay respectful and I will stand back and let
                you approach for your bucket)...but he has no such compulsion with
                others, and as such I have issued an edict that no one is to get within
                6 feet of this colt, handle him or feed him. I don't want him to have
                opportunity to continue in his bad habits (if I get bit or pushed I
                consider it my fault, my lack of timing or feel). My thoughts are to
                continue to work with him and then have knowledgable people who are
                familiar with feel work around him and hope that transference will
                eventually take over and he will be good around others that do not have
                such a good feel.

                My question to the group is this. Am I headed down the right road? Is
                there something else I need to be aware of/working on? I handed him a
                light bit one day and he very happily took it and stood and chewed on it
                and played with it for about 20 minutes, so I lightly placed a strap on
                it and hung the bit on him. He seemed quite happy and amused. Is that a
                thing I should continue? Are there other things I can specifically do?
                or should I just introduce him to the ground work and continue with that
                and know that this will go away as he matures?

                Nadine
                New Hampton, NH
              • Pamela S Bolin
                Leslie Thank-you so much for enlightening us all about handfeeding. I have to admit I have handfed my horses and also have to admit I have at least some of the
                Message 7 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
                  Leslie
                  Thank-you so much for enlightening us all about handfeeding. I have to
                  admit I have handfed my horses and also have to admit I have at least some
                  of the problems you have written about. Like hitting my shoulder, rubbing
                  on me. Probably more in a lesser degree. I am most certainly going to take
                  your challenge. Absolutely no handfeeding for one year and notice any
                  changes. This is not something that I associated with handfeeding but now
                  can see that it could certainly all be connected. Thanks again!
                  Pam
                • cindy
                  Ya know I have been thinking of this handfeeding issue and will take a stab at it.I normally dont post.My time is pretty limited, this week and will post a
                  Message 8 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
                    Ya know I have been thinking of this handfeeding issue and will take a
                    stab at it.I normally dont post.My time is pretty limited, this week
                    and will post a little about myself next week.(I dont mean to be rudly
                    jumping into this conversation without introductions) and dont know if
                    Im way off base here.But I understand the feeling of what Im trying to
                    write mabe not how to express it .Ive been thinking about it all day .
                    In the pasture the lesser or sub horses Im not sure of proper wording.
                    Give up their hay to the horses that are in charge. How can a horse
                    see you giving away your food (Your food,....food must be an important
                    issue to a horse) as anything but meaning that your lesser. A horse
                    would never give up its food to another or you.for any reason. No
                    wonder they would push into your space. I would think you are setting
                    them up to do that.As I reread page 25 where it says "People cross
                    that important line," To me setting a grain bucket down, hay water ect
                    is different than personally giving up something your
                    holding.especially something that is really good.And actually inviting
                    them into your space to take it from you. I dont know if Im on the
                    mark here or not but it feels along the lines Im trying to express.
                    Cindy
                  • Bob Sagely
                    Howdy All, Leslie, :-) times 10 to the 20th power... if, after reading that a person cannot sit down and truly make sense of why you (and I) don t handfeed our
                    Message 9 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
                      Howdy All,

                      Leslie, :-) times 10 to the 20th power... if, after
                      reading that a person cannot sit down and truly make
                      sense of why you (and I) don't handfeed our friends,
                      well, then all we can do is :-)... and all they had
                      better do is smile when some of those things happen
                      between them and their horse...

                      =====
                      Respectfully,

                      Bob Sagely
                      Sage Horsemanship
                      "Helping horse people develop a better horse sense."
                      http://www.dreamwater.com/sagehorseman

                      __________________________________________________
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                      Get email at your own domain with Yahoo! Mail.
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                    • RookeryRanch@hotmail.com
                      Hi Everyone! I m new to this egroup, but not to Bill s Book.... I thought I would just read, but I d like to put in my thoughts on handfeeding- I use the
                      Message 10 of 13 , Apr 6, 2001
                        Hi Everyone! I'm new to this egroup, but not to Bill's Book....
                        I thought I would just read, but I'd like to put in my thoughts on
                        handfeeding- I use the term "Kicking the Vending Machine",
                        when a horse is EXPECTING a treat from you. I always get a
                        laugh when I use this terminology, but it gets through to the folks
                        that do this! I don't remember if I heard this from someone else,
                        or if I made it up, but it works! Have a great day, Nicky Frechette
                        Rookery Ranch-Keene, Ny

                        --- In billsbook@y..., ginsr@e... wrote:
                        > Oh, and be sure to include the bottom part where it talks about
                        copyrights
                        > and all of that.
                        >
                        > Gail I. (rather passionately jumping the gun - sorry, Leslie!)
                        >
                        > "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for a good man
                        to do nothing."
                        > - Edmund Burke
                      • Pam Partow
                        I would like to add that even offering a bucket can get a disrespectful horse if they don t wait for it politely. I have one real chowhound of a horse, he
                        Message 11 of 13 , Apr 7, 2001
                          I would like to add that even offering a bucket can
                          get a disrespectful horse if they don't wait for it
                          politely. I have one real chowhound of a horse, he
                          does think food is life. I try to be very careful
                          of how I offer his bucket. He is to stand away from
                          the clip where I put it and wait until I step away
                          before he gets to approach it. Same with feeding
                          hay he is not allowed to come over until I step
                          away from it. Needless to say, hand feeding him is
                          out. However, I have found carrot pieces in one of
                          their paddocks so I know someone else feeds them. I
                          guess I have to put up a fence outside of theirs to
                          keep the "well-meaning" folks from offering treats.

                          Pam
                        • Bob Sagely
                          Howdy All, I hope you folks will indulge me for a few paragraphs. I think I have a thing or two of interest about feel and what it means to a horse... it is
                          Message 12 of 13 , Apr 9, 2001
                            Howdy All,

                            I hope you folks will indulge me for a few paragraphs.
                            I think I have a thing or two of interest about feel
                            and what it means to a horse... it is just "the"
                            difference is all, I guess...

                            This weekend I went out to trim a horse. Owner said a
                            year ago they were trying to shoe the horse and got
                            one nail in the first shoe (luckily the farrier
                            trimmed all four first) when the horse blew up and
                            that was it. The farrier left, told the woman he was a
                            bad horse, that he (the farrier) would not be back and
                            that she had best sell him before he got her hurt real
                            bad. Hadn't even been trimmed since and she was having
                            a tough time with even picking his feet out.

                            When I got there and went out into his paddock and
                            walked on out past him and sqatted down, he did not
                            give me much notice. I guess some might say he ignored
                            me but as his owner walked up to him he sure did keep
                            checking to see if I was still squatted down. I knew
                            he felt I was there and I also think he felt I ought
                            to be reckoned with, specially since I did not come
                            right out to him like I suppose most folks in his life
                            have. After awhile my inactivity made the owner
                            nervous (guess she thought more needed to be happening
                            right off) and she wanted to know what she should do.
                            So I got up and approached and he left, not fast, but
                            he was ready to speed if needed.

                            I just sort of drifted along with him and tried
                            putting myself in different spots to see what he would
                            do with me when I moved in and out of each eye. He was
                            noticeably keeping me in his left eye, would speed up
                            if the gap he desired closed any. I tried a few
                            changes in speed and sure enough he would move up and,
                            I hope because I did not go too far, was more than
                            ready to come back down. It was kind of hot (80
                            degrees, yeah!) for here and I think he was into
                            conservation of energy.

                            I guess the high point for me was something I didn't
                            think too much of at first. When I did let him get
                            back to her for some petting and approached again, he
                            stayed. I haltered him up, walked around a bit and he
                            felt like he might follow decent. I asked him to get
                            around me to my left and he did willingly, too much so
                            which left me to stand and just let him do what he
                            needed til he could stop again. I did that a couple
                            times and then when he was walking good we trotted up
                            and then settled to a stop together. Now here is where
                            it got good...

                            When I asked him to step on a cross and go off to my
                            right, to put me in his right eye, well, all systems
                            but back shut down. And he was ready to go back with
                            me in his left eye or else. I held to what I had been
                            asking with as far as the lead was concerned but I
                            sure did not try to hold him in place. He backed and I
                            kept trying to get out into that right eye to swing
                            him across. I wished I had brought out my flag so I
                            could reach on out around him but I hadn't. So we
                            spiraled out of the middle of the paddock (backwards)
                            until the fence became my friend. Got it set up so he
                            was backing down with the fence on his right, and the
                            corner coming up from behind. I did keep asking for
                            him to swing on out and he made a couple tries but
                            just could not leave his left eye off me long enough
                            to pick me up in the right and go, his feet just could
                            not get around that idea at all. Til the corner...

                            I left him plenty of room to roll out of that corner
                            and when he did break and roll there was just so much
                            to that move that I again just left him to circle me,
                            which he did at as high a trot as twelve feet of lead
                            would allow. It took about six laps for him to drop
                            out, and I mean drop out... at which point his owner
                            said, "Hmmmm, I have been trying to get him to go that
                            direction for three months. How did you do that?"

                            So what do you tell someone in twenty five words or
                            less... I tried a couple things and just waited for
                            him to find the answer that fit my needs and his
                            ability and she was looking lost already at that so I
                            took him in and trimmed his off fore, oh yeah, that is
                            the one he really does not like messed with, noone can
                            even pick it clean... and he is so relaxed with you,
                            that other guy was just so rough and so nervous ( and
                            why is your horse the bad one?) and, well, gosh, we
                            are done already... wow he hasn't stood like that for
                            almost ever (we did not tie him though she had
                            crossties and suggested there use cause he would not
                            stand)...

                            Another call came in from a woman who has an 18 yr old
                            mare that had a fit with the farrier and now won't let
                            anyone even touch her feet and hasn't been trimmed in
                            over a year cause no one will come out and do her
                            and...

                            And all it takes is offering a feel a horse can make
                            use of, that fits them and allows them to be way back
                            down off the edge of self-preservation and down where
                            things are just OK...

                            But as Bill said, you shouldn't leave it to your
                            farrier, lots of reasons why there... but then again,
                            if you don't have what that horse needs then maybe you
                            ought to hand the lead rope off to someone else... and
                            if your horse is telling you the current farrier
                            doesn't have it... but again how do you know what that
                            is or when that is?

                            Guess you just have to get a real good feel (in your
                            gut) for what you really want out of the
                            relationship... and then understand that it is not
                            given to you by a set of steps or a certain technique
                            but is merely (only, just) earned through hours and
                            horses. You don't teach a horse to respect you... but
                            you can sure help him to feel that you are there, to
                            be with and worth being so... and that looks enough
                            like respect to me to fit and be OK...

                            Thanks all, don't know why that had to come out like
                            that today but I guess I felt I needed it... I am just
                            hoping I can go at least a week right now without
                            another call about a horse that can't be trimmed or shod...

                            =====
                            Respectfully,

                            Bob Sagely
                            Sage Horsemanship
                            "Helping horse people develop a better horse sense."
                            http://www.dreamwater.com/sagehorseman

                            __________________________________________________
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                          • ElvaM
                            Hi folks, Leslie wrote an excellent piece on hand feeding last April. You can go to the archives or if our moderator says it s okay, I saved the article and
                            Message 13 of 13 , Aug 22, 2001
                              Hi folks,
                              Leslie wrote an excellent piece on hand feeding last April.

                              You can go to the archives or if our moderator says it's okay, I saved
                              the article and will forward it to the list.

                              In the archives it should be listed as:
                              Subj: Handfeeding
                              thu, 5 apr. 2001

                              Elva
                              TWH's~Corrales,NM
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