Should you hand feed your horse?? - Page 4

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Should you hand feed your horse??

This is a discussion on Should you hand feed your horse?? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Mare Gets A Treat
  • Can your horse forget you

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    07-25-2012, 09:03 AM
I warned a friend about carrying any feed into the pasture with 4 horses and to carry a 4' stick, any stick. I also warned about horses squabbling amongst themselves and forgetting to respect her space. Weeks later she called that her Precious has suddenly turned around and kicked out at her with both hinds. She barely missed getting her face caved in. A few days later the mare turned again only this time she got a very hard whack on the rump, much to her surprise. Both learned their lesson and I didn't have to attend a funeral.
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    07-26-2012, 01:22 PM
I used to give my gelding treats (bits of homemade horse cookie or carrot) as a reward for almost everything, but he knew he had to wait and keep his head pointed forward (not trying to grab it from me) to get the treat. This past winter I wasn't able to work with him much so he "lost" some of his ground manners and will try to lick my pocket where the carrots are kept or will reach and try to get the treat early and has actually started using me as a scratch post (I know, not good!), so I'm cutting out all of the treats. He gets a treat/food at the end of a session, but only in a bucket/pan now (trying to train him to wait until I put the bucket down before he rushes towards it to eat, but we're still working on that).

So long story short, I never had an issue with it until recently and I think that's only because he was not worked with/seen consistantly and started getting grabby from that. I think as long as they don't reach/try to get it until you choose to give them the treat, then its okay but if they start getting pushy then stop right away.

PS My mare won't take any type of treat from my hand, just turns her nose away from it (only had her about 2 months but doesn't seem lke its a trust thing, just doesn't like to be hand fed).
    07-28-2012, 05:12 PM
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Hand feeding horses

I've been around horses all my life and that's a lot more years than I care to think about
I would never carry a bucket of feed into a field even with my own horses and in the winter the hay is put out before they are and any extra is thrown from the other side of the fence. Even the nicest horses can forget you are there if they start to squabble My horses do get the occasional treat as a reward for new learning experiences if I think its appropriate but they never come out of my pocket, if I'm in the menage I leave them at the side out of sight
If you get a horse that starts noseing in your pockets or nudgeing you for treats they can easily begin to lose respect and it can turn to nipping. Its also a pain if you have to hold your horse for a vet or farrier and its constantly fidgeting because its demanding treats from you
I never fed my children treats so wouldn't do it for my animals either
    07-28-2012, 05:25 PM
I'll hand feed my horse a treat on occasion. Probably not more than once a week or so unless I'm working on getting him to do some stretches. If he were to get pushy or rude, he'd get whacked on his nearest body part and/or chased off. So far other than being VERY eager to please and very focused when he's seen me open the cookie jar, his behavior hasn't changed. Sometimes I toss goodies in the feed bucket instead... just depends on my mood.

I do take cookies to the pasture that he gets after he allows me to halter him though. That's one behavior I LIKE and want to reinforce constantly. If another horse comes up to me, they get chased off with however much energy necessary to convince them that THEY will NOT be getting anything from me. So far every horse has gotten the message that they are not to get in my space unless invited, whether I am carrying treats or not.
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    07-28-2012, 09:53 PM
Gypsy gets her last handful of grain fed to her because she has trouble getting it out of her tiny feed tub...can you say spoiled ?
    07-29-2012, 06:08 AM
Last week I rode Victory alone as my trainer had an emergency so I just did some simple transitions for about 30", and rode the 1/4 mile to give her a change of scenery and took her to the washrack and hosed her down, as she was a bit sweaty, (it was like 7p at this time, so 92?) & she got VERY B--CHY in the washrack, almost sitting back once, just really fidgety and such, and I realized: I hadn't given her a treat and my trainer has them locked up in a separate area..she is the one who always goes to get her horses a treat after lessons...and she wasn't there...and VICTORY KNEW IT !..Thus, my decision was made right then and there...NO TREATS for any of my future horses on a schedule that regular! Wow...I definitely don't want a horse that I OWN to get that "treat nutty" with me. :0)
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    07-29-2012, 08:05 PM
Originally Posted by Sharpie    
I do take cookies to the pasture that he gets after he allows me to halter him though. That's one behavior I LIKE and want to reinforce constantly.
I do agree with this. My gelding only gets a treat if he comes to me and only after I've put the halter on.
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    07-30-2012, 01:55 PM
Whether or not I will hand-feed depends entirely on the individual horse. My own fella has excellent ground manners, and will back calmly away from his feed pan mid-meal if I so much as glare at him and "reclaim" that food as mine, so he gets a cookie by hand a few times a week. He's never had a problem getting pushy or snatchy about it, and has never offered to develop one in that department. Still, if anyone who doesn't know the drill wants to give him a treat, they get the rundown of how to do it safely.

If the horse is struggling with basic ground manners and respect, and/or is in the habit of being pushy or bargy even when treats are not involved, I won't hand feed. I'm all for giving treats every now and again, but I'm even more all for not being mauled over it. At the end of the day, hand-fed treats are a luxury, not a requirement. I can reward good behavior easily any number of ways without reaching for a carrot.

As far as carrying food into a herd situation, I'm quite a bit more guarded -- throwing other rambunctious horses into the mix can make even the most gentle horse forget himself.
    07-30-2012, 02:01 PM
When I ride at the stables I go to, I only feed treats every fortnight (i ride once a week), because I agree with the fact that horses end up 'expecting' to be fed. But on the other hand I believe a treat once in a while helps bond and I find it re enforces a good ride. Like if I was due to give the horse a treat and he was stubborn for the whole ride, I wouldn't give him one XD
    07-30-2012, 02:30 PM
I give my horses treats by hand almost daily. We have a very large pasture that is connected to a dry lot/arena. I whistle and they come running because they know that its either dinner time or treat time.. I don't like having to go out past the dry lot to call them up, so treats work for me. I don't always carry them though, but its nice to have the whistle associated with something they want.

My mare gets a little lippy sometimes and will go after pockets, but its almost never an issue and she is reprimanded promptly. I don't like pushy behavior from them and they do know to wait their turn..

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