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BrownEyedGirl 01-26-2013 12:41 AM

need opinions on horse "treats"
I really only want to give him something because... well... it seems like a good things to do?

Tell me why I shouldn't. I want him to love me, and though I'm sure he already does the "MAMA" in me wants to secure the deal by giving him a treat at the end of exercising ( or when I first arrive?!).

Thoughts? My trainer won't give me a hard opinion on the subject. :/

And what kind of treats are good? Carrots? Those pre made things at the feed store? I'm new to horses but not animals in general. I've always lived on a farm with cattle, goats, etc.... this business of giving an animal a "treat" is kinda cool to me. :D

Deschutes 01-26-2013 12:46 AM

Treats are not a reliable means of training a horse nor are they something that should be expected, in terms of how a horse behaves.

Horses can get pushy, and nippy when treated, especially when randomly treated without working for it as a "reward".

The only time I very rarely treat is when I had a phenominal ride or a great ground work session.

WesternRider88 01-26-2013 12:47 AM

There is nothing wrong with giving your horse treats. I give mine carrots and apples because those are their favorite. :) I've never given them any of the treats that are from the stores but I sometimes give them those alfalfa pellets after a ride.

usandpets 01-26-2013 01:11 AM

We've fed ours carrots, apples and apple/oat wafers. One likes black licorice too.

Some say not to feed by hand but we do. However, we do not allow them to get pushy. If they try, they don't get any. They'll get shooed away.

Some people used treats for training. Ever heard of clicker training? I don't do it but some are successful with it.
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FaceTheMusic 01-26-2013 01:16 AM

There is nothing wrong with giving your horse treats, but be aware that as Deschutes said, they can get nippy and pushy when given treats too often for no reason.

My mother used to come to the barn with me everyday and while I was doing barn chores she would be feeding my horses treats. The horses then started trying to knock her over and became extremely pushy whenever she was around. I told her she couldn't give them treats like that anymore because it was making them rude and obnoxious.

They quit after awhile and I no longer have problems giving them an occasional treat. If you want to give your horse treats but you are worried about him getting pushy you can just put the treats in his feed bucket.

As for what kinds of treats to feed your horse, that's up to you and him. Mine will eat just about anything, from apples and carrots to valentines candy hearts and poptarts. lol My gelding LOVES poptarts!

Deschutes 01-26-2013 01:20 AM

Some clicker training isn't even done with treats, but a target stick. Even then, you might develop a horse who does the trick or whatever unwantingly just so it could have a treat.

But yeah. If it were to be a random treat, I'd put it in a bucket. Before giving treats, I make sure a horse does something correctly, before giving it.

smrobs 01-26-2013 01:22 AM


Originally Posted by Deschutes (Post 1862740)
Treats are not a reliable means of training a horse nor are they something that should be expected, in terms of how a horse behaves.

While I agree that there is nothing wrong with occasionally treating a horse (lord knows mine get treats far more often than they probably should LOL), I also agree that it's not a reliable training method, nor will it get the horse to "love you". If you want a horse's "love", you must first earn their respect by being an effective herd leader.

Basically, the only time any of my horses get hand-fed treats is when they are caught out of the pasture and when they are turned back out. I've found that treating them encourages them to be easier to catch in a large and non-enclosed space.

Other than that, if I feel the need to treat them (more for my own desire than theirs LOL), I will put treats into a trough/bucket/pan and put it on the ground and make them wait until I walk away before eating. Only one of my horses is nippy and that's because my non-horsey Step-mom is completely enamored with him and I simply can't stop her from hand feeding him almost daily *eyeroll*.

As for what to feed, I generally feed range cubes designed for cattle. Basically, what they are is a high protein forage substitute. They have high nutrient content and no sugars at all. The ones that I feed my horses are 20% protein.

While some cattle feeds are safe for horses, others contain ingredients that can be very dangerous for horses. So, for that reason, I suggest you find something that is made for horses. Alfalfa pellets make a nice healthy treat, though they can be a bit messy.

Whatever you get, avoid anything with molasses or sugars of any kind. There are much healthier options out there. Carrots are nice, but those are awfully expensive and have a very limited shelf-life.

oobiedoo 01-26-2013 01:23 AM

I give treats always and I think it really depends on the horse, my standardbred uses her lips like she's toothless, which she's not but you'd have to work at it to get bitten by her. The pony, well she's the queen of nippers and I never let my gaurd down with her, she'll take treats from your hand but she gets in a hurry to get it to.
They both love fresh apples and carrots and they get those everyday in their dinner bucket(cut up). I use the commercial treats when we're working or just hanging out because apples can get pretty messy in your pocket when they're sliced ( I don't feed them whole because of a possible choking hazard) so the MannaPro apple flavored nuggets work great for stashing in a coat or even jeans pocket.
you can certainly see how your horse handles treats, some people use a small bucket just for giving treats so the horse doesn't learn to look to the hands for it. Whatever works for you and yours. Mine are spoiled, the horse stands with her front feet inside the feed room when I'm fixing her dinner but she never comes any further than that and when I pick up her tub and say go in your house( her stall) she goes very politely.
Have fun, they're all such unique individuals :)

walkinthewalk 01-26-2013 08:23 AM

Lots of good advice as to why horses shouldn't get treats and how to manage giving treats if we do.

Many of us sin in that regard, myself included, but I don't use treats as a training device.

It's hard to carry timothy pellets around but that's my first choice; you could put them in a ziplock bag inside a fanny pack.

I agree with the hay cubes but they would have to be small as they can sometimes cause choking.

Pieces of apples and carrots are last on the list as they are both full of sugar and will promote nipping. They are also a huge no-no if the horse has insulin issues.

The occasional treat is a common sense judgement call and is not a way to win a horse's affection.

That is one of the things I battle with my non-horse husband.

Giving treats makes HIM feel better. After all these years and having two insulin resistant horses in the barn, I still can't get it thru his head not to give treats. I have to make sure he isn't in the barn alone with a pocket full of something that nobody is allowed to have:-x I will have no sympathy if he ever comes out of there with the tips of his fingers missing:-o

PaintHorseMares 01-26-2013 08:40 AM

You can treat and hand feed them, too, if you are firm and consistant about not being crowded or nipped at. Our mares get a couple pieces of carrot or apple everyday and all wait patiently for their turn. Any hint of fussing and they all get run off.
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