Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
Feeding treats does not necessarily spoil a horse. It's how the treats are fed that spoils the horse. Hand feeding does not make the horse spoiled either. Again, it's how and when that does.
Whether you give treats, apples, carrots or grain as a treat, it's still a treat. Kind of like giving a kid a snack. It can be an apple, candy, a sandwich, popcorn, or whatever. A snack is a snack and a treat is a treat.
I was once told when I first started learning about horses, when you feed them, let them be. That is their time. Don't fuss with them, don't groom them or anything. Just let them be. same goes for when riding. That is your time. Don't let them eat then. When they eat, they don't have their attention or focus on you. They can actually forget that you are there. An accident waiting to happen.
Do I follow that today? Sometimes. Do I feed by treats by hand? Yes. However, that is with horses that I know I have respect from. If I do not have their respect, I definitely do not want to invite them into my personal space. If I can't move them away when I choose, I would not feed by hand. That is allowing a dangerous situation or encouraging a horse to be spoiled.
As for when to treat, I only offer a treat as a treat, not as a reward for doing something, such as clicker training. If you offer the treat at the wrong moment, you've rewarded the wrong thing. By the time you give the treat, too much time has gone by and the horse might not connect what the treat was for. They do want treats but they also want release of pressure. Giving them release of pressure in instantaneous.
Giving treats by hand may cause a horse to become nippy. If you have their respect, it is less likely.
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