Hand feeding a horse as a training method? - Page 2

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Hand feeding a horse as a training method?

This is a discussion on Hand feeding a horse as a training method? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Is it bad to hand feed treats to your horse
  • Horse will only eat yreats from bucket, not by hand

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    07-12-2007, 10:55 AM
That is up to the horse it could be once or it may take years, I would say most likely a few weeks.
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    07-12-2007, 04:28 PM
I feed treats for trust, but only to horses that aren't aggressive with their lips already. I wouldn't expect that offering treats will teach respect, though.

Kitten_Val, I think it depends completely on the horse. I've got three mustangs right now, and none of them are biters. The last one, however, is a horse that ought never to have been fed from the hand. Then again, she had novice owners who didn't know how to tell her 'no'. She was aggressive as all get out when we got her, but a ***** cat when she left.

The other three? One is terribly head shy and treats from the hand are a long, slow process to coax her into allowing us to handle her face without fear. I doubt she'll ever be a biter. Quiet Storm had no clue how to eat a treat from our hand when we offered it last month; it was the first time we'd done that in the year we'd owned her. She's the one I'd expect could develop a nibbling habit if one were to feed her every day from the hand. Jet is an oral horse, but not a nibblely horse. We play with her lips a lot because she appears to enjoy it. Hey, what ever it takes to get them to like us, right? But she's not a pushy personality, so I'm not terribly worried
    07-13-2007, 10:23 AM
Treats certainly won't buy a respect. I own mine 1.5 and 1 years (since they were yearlings) and I give them treats since they recognized what it is (they had no handling both). I found them to be very cooperative in ground training such as grooming and picking up hoofs when I praise them. Also I give them couple treats after they are done with evening grain. We all seem to enjoy it and as long as I show empty hand and say "nothing" they leave me alone. Knock on wood, but they didn't express any signs of biting or nibbling to me as well as to my parents (dad spoils them badly when I don't see it he-he).
    07-20-2007, 08:02 PM
I never hand feed after I got bit by an unruly mustang that got the wrong idea. Take treats, but designate a bucket for them. Otherwise you may end up missing a hunk from your butt like me. HA!
    07-21-2007, 04:25 AM
I've never seen anyone use handfeeding specifically as a training method. Personally, I feed my horses their grain in their feeders. If I want to give them a treat I hand feed them. I in no way think this is dangerous (to feed treats with the hand). The only way a horse will develop habits of biting/nipping from hand feeding is if the owner allows the horse to do so. A simple reprimand like a swat on the nose if the horse nips is good enough to halt the behavior. If it continues to bite at you its likely there are other issues in play, such as the horse is aggressive or doesn't respect you whatsoever.

The only method I've heard where you use hand feeding during training was from Pat Parelli. In the beginning of his training program his handbooks tell you to hang out in the horses enclosure and do your own thing (read a book, etc) so that your horse will not associate you being there with work all of the time. It then said that the horse will most likely be curious by your presence and eventually come to see you. It then said to offer it some treats by hand and pet the horse, so that it sees your visits as pleasant, not negative.
    07-21-2007, 09:10 AM
The only way a horse will develop habits of biting/nipping from hand feeding is if the owner allows the horse to do so.
Often times, this is true. However, some horses are food aggressive, and it has nothing to do with ownership (not all horses are born in captivity )
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    07-22-2007, 04:45 AM
True. Particularly if its a mustang or such, or even just a horse that's been out in a herd setting for any length of time. But then, the behavior of biting did not develop BECAUSE of hand feeding treats, it developed for other reasons (fear of other horses getting their food, etc.) You're completely right about that. But you can always train a horse not to bite/nip. If you train the horse to respect you, and make it known to the horse that biting is bad. If he truly does have respect for his leader he will learn not to do it.
    07-23-2007, 07:15 AM
I'd say some horses are VERY food aggressive. I always was wondering why. Is it something genetical or something they developed. When I moved mine to my own place they were just HORRIBLE when they saw me coming with the grain buckets to the field: going after me trying to pull the bucket from my hands etc. After a month they stand each at own spot near the fence and wait for me to walk and put bucket on fence. And it's not like I tried to teach them or something (I just didn't let them get to bucket in the beginning). They realized that they'll get their portion in any case and there is no need to fight for it. So I assume the owner of the farm they'v been probably didn't feed them (although she said she did) or just let them fight around for food.
    07-23-2007, 09:58 AM
Pulling the bucket from your hands is more greed than aggression. Aggressive horses will literally attack you for getting in their space. Most often hand feeding will create a greedy horse unless it's taught, like your horses were, to wait until it's been offered.

Quiet Storm was food aggressive, still is to a certain extent. Shortly after getting her home I was leading her past some hay. I let her reach down and take a bite, and she immediately followed up with a lunge right into my face to move me out of what she considered her personal food bubble. (Thankfully, I was able to block her!) While she doesn't lunge at anyone these days, she'll still pin her ears when food comes by and shake her head. She's at the bottom of the pecking order in the herd, and none of the others bothers me when I walk out with feed in my arms, so I suspect it's something to do with her feeling she's going to miss out on eating if she doesn't assert herself. Of my three, she's the one that we don't offer treats to.
    07-23-2007, 10:17 AM
Oh I see.. I think you are right, it's greed, not aggressive. It's funny though but I havn't seen really food-aggressive horses then (I'm not taking into account situations, when some stupid borders come to the field with 20+ hungry horses with very visible bag of carrot or grain, the woman ended up with broken hand when all these horses attached her :/)

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