This is what my equine chiropractor has to say about excessive hand-feeding as she was adjusting one of my horses (she's worked on all four):
CHIRO: "---you don't feed your horses treats from your hand do you?"
ME: "I do but it's rare".
CHIRO: "I can tell you don't make a habit of hand-feeding. None of them are mouthy or looking for something in my pockets while I am trying to work on them. I have some horses that are difficult to work with because owners give them treats all the time".
The other night, I lost my presence of mind and gave everyone treats -- twice. And that's because two horses came in from one side of the barn and the other two came in from the main pasture.
By the time I got in the barn, everyone had graciously gone to their own stalls (even the guy with open-to-the-paddock-stall) and they were all looking at me, eyes bright, ears forward, as if to say "aren't we just the best!!" So I sinned against my own rules and gave them cookies-------------------
Mr. WTW is horrible about giving treats and that's because it makes HIM feel good. He admitted that. I told him it's a P-poor reason to give them treats because they then have an expectation.
Then there's my two with metabolic issues that can tolerate an occasional treat but not as many as Mr. WTW would like to get away with. In our old age that's the big thing we fight about, THE big thing--------------I keep reminding him the horses were in my life before he was and they're papered to me -- NO treats!