Food/Treat Aggression/Pushiness - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Food/Treat Aggression/Pushiness

Do you think food/treat aggression/pushiness is something to work on?

I've heard some people say "not really" - saying that there is no real,legit,vital reason to mess with the horse while they are eating and you don't have to give them any treats.

I've also heard some people (including some on here) that you should correct "actual food" (meals) aggression/pushiness but not with treats - you know, they simply NEVER the horse treats....

Can treat aggression/pushiness be "fixed?" If so, why try to fix food aggression/pushiness, but not treat aggression/pushiness? I've heard it is because horses need food, but don't really need treats. Technically speaking, under what circumstance is it absolutely vital that they mess with the horse while eating?

I am not asking for advice, but rather I don't understand because, to me, it sounds somewhat contradictory when people say stuff like that. For those who don't (or knows someone who doesn't) treat due strictly to treat aggression/pushiness (not due to stuff like diet considerations, the horse gets distracted, allergies, or you simply not wanting to), why is that? Please clarify for me.

I do understand that "my horse - my rules" sort of thing, so if that is all that one can say, that's fine.

Thanks.
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Last edited by Equilibrium; 04-17-2019 at 09:33 PM.
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post #2 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 09:32 PM
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Treats: I treat copiously, but I never fork over the treat while the horse is doing something I find objectionable (rifling through my pockets, nudging me, cutting me off, etc.) I will give the treat once the horse has assumed an inconspicuous posture, or I sneak up on the horse and - voilą - a treat appears, not even giving the horse a chance to do something pushy.

Food: While I'm dispensing food, the horse will give me room until I have placed the food. Then I step aside and the horse can do whatever. Sometimes I take my horse away from his hay in the middle of eating, but then it's only for a trip to the grain bucket, or to eat some fresh grass outside. It shows the horse that I'm in control of the food, but also doesn't give him a reason to be resentful, because it's always an upgrade to what he was just eating.
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post #3 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 09:47 PM
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Treats are only for well behaved horses. Ask my horse Indy who went 5 years without treats while watching others enjoy theirs.

I am not here to promote anythingNo, that's not true, I am here to promote everything equestrian and everyone enjoying horses!
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post #4 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 09:52 PM
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Treats are a way of rewarding good behavior when being worked. Treats given at any other time just spoil the horse and can create aggression and pushy ness. I personally would never allow a horse to be aggressive towards me no matter what they were eating! Aggression at feed time can become dangerous very quickly! A simple method to handle this would be to take a whip with you and when the horse acts aggressive, chase them away from the food. This is what horses in the wild do and what herd horses do. Allowing the horse to eat shows you as the herd leader and you are keeping them alive allowing them to eat under your protection. If any horse shows aggression at the herd leader in a domestic herd or in a wild herd the leader nips that in the bud quickly!
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post #5 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 10:05 PM
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I never let my horse's get agressive or pushy about being fed grain or treats. I can give hay and go back 5 minutes later and take them away to do whatever with them.

They get pushy or agressive then they get no grain or treats or whatever I'm giving. For most part my horse's get treats after a ride, if they were good.

I use treats for my gelding when doing up his cinch. I reward the behavior I want. Only gets two treats for this an only when I decide he gets them. If he gets to searching pockets or nudging at my hands...then I won't give any treats. Usually not an issue he knows better for most part.
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post #6 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 10:10 PM
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We live next door to my parents and my dad loves to go and feed the horses carrots over the fence. When he goes out into the pasture for whatever reason, my sweet little mare likes to go demand carrots and bite him on the shoulder if he doesn't have one. So seriously....70 year old men should not be feeding treats to horses and then going out in the pasture with them, but you can't tell a 70 year old man anything.

I don't treat the horses randomly over the fence for no reason. I halter them and tie them before I give them yummy things, and I treat them COPIOUSLY when they're in the trailer. I love to stop at gas stations and buy them gum drops and open the trailer windows to treat them. Then they love the trailer and the trips even more. No risk of getting bit on the shoulder that way.

Food aggression is part of horse behavior. A "food aggressive" horse is not a bad horse, it's just a regular horse. You have to avoid getting hurt, so you have to use common sense, but I don't think it's something you should try to train out of a horse. Why put yourself or the horse through the stress of trying to train something like that out of them? Just stay safe.
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post #7 of 85 Old 04-17-2019, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newtrailriders View Post
We live next door to my parents and my dad loves to go and feed the horses carrots over the fence. When he goes out into the pasture for whatever reason, my sweet little mare likes to go demand carrots and bite him on the shoulder if he doesn't have one. So seriously....70 year old men should not be feeding treats to horses and then going out in the pasture with them, but you can't tell a 70 year old man anything.

I don't treat the horses randomly over the fence for no reason. I halter them and tie them before I give them yummy things, and I treat them COPIOUSLY when they're in the trailer. I love to stop at gas stations and buy them gum drops and open the trailer windows to treat them. Then they love the trailer and the trips even more. No risk of getting bit on the shoulder that way.

Food aggression is part of horse behavior. A "food aggressive" horse is not a bad horse, it's just a regular horse. You have to avoid getting hurt, so you have to use common sense, but I don't think it's something you should try to train out of a horse. Why put yourself or the horse through the stress of trying to train something like that out of them? Just stay safe.
Sorry but I strongly dissagree with this, you have the making of a dangerous horse.

I will not tolerate a horse biting me because I don't have a treat. I will not reward agressive behavior for food or treats from my horse's. Were not talking about a 50 lb dog, we are talking about a 1000 lb or bigger horse.

My horse's wait patiently for there grain to be dumped into pan. They stand back and wait for me to walk away.


Your mare biting because there are no treats will escalate if not corrected. One day she'll turn her butt and double barrel someone with hind feet. One wrong placed kick can be deadly.

Safety is teaching your horse to have good manners on the ground, and in all aspects of life. If you don't you are failing them.
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post #8 of 85 Old 04-18-2019, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
Do you think food/treat aggression/pushiness is something to work on?
Absolutely. Just like every other instance of 'bad manners', with a horse sized beast, it can become dangerous, not just annoying & 'rude'. Therefore I insist on teaching/enforcing 'good manners' be it with food or otherwise, 'treats' or 'meals'. And part of that is that if I go into a paddock with horses, they aren't allowed to play 'horsey politics' with eachother while I'm there either.

Quote:
Can treat aggression/pushiness be "fixed?" If so, why try to fix food aggression/pushiness, but not treat aggression/pushiness? I've heard it is because horses need food, but don't really need treats. Technically speaking, under what circumstance is it absolutely vital that they mess with the horse while eating?
So... I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at. Again, regardless whether it's meals/hay, or treats, be that given for training or 'just because', or Bad behaviour when there's no food involved, I think teaching & reinforcing 'manners' around people is vital.

Yeah, it's not 'vital' that you 'mess with' horses while they're eating... unless you include dishing out the feed in the first place, of which I'm absolutely going to 'mess with' them if they're rude about that, and they won't be getting their meal while they're behaving in a manner that's unacceptable. I don't allow 'rudeness' at any time & I'm not about to allow it in one situation but not another - that would be inconsistent & unclear to the horse. **On that note, if a horse is going to be handled/fed by others who may not be consistent with what they reinforce(like 70yo fathers...), then it will make it more difficult to teach the horse to be 'polite' with other people.

I hear it so often, that people blame food treats for 'pushy' or 'nippy' or 'aggressive' behaviour. This only shows that those people just don't understand training principles. In essence, boiled down, horses learn to do what works - what they get reinforced for, and they quit doing what doesn't work for them. Therefore IF you reward 'bad' behaviours, that's what you'll get more of. If you NEVER reward 'bad' and you do reward 'good manners' then you will get more of the good and the bad will stop happening.

In short, it's not food(treats or otherwise) that causes Bad behaviour, it is what behaviours are being reinforced.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #9 of 85 Old 04-18-2019, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newtrailriders View Post
I don't think it's something you should try to train out of a horse. Why put yourself or the horse through the stress of trying to train something like that out of them? Just stay safe.
I didn't notice this bit of your post until Rambo pointed it out. I STRONGLY disagree with this too. I would NEVER EVER advise letting a horse to be aggressive, be that around food or otherwise. Let alone effectively reinforcing/rewarding it by feeding the horse when they're like that. Why put yourself or the horse through this training?? Because it's very much a safety thing! Not that training them to be well mannered needs to be at all stressful for either the horse or the person anyway, and I tend to use food to reinforce Good Manners too.

IME of wild/naturally living horses, food aggression is not at all a normal, natural behaviour either. This only tends to happen in human environments.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #10 of 85 Old 04-18-2019, 01:28 AM
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It all boils down to manners!

Would you allow a child to sit at a table and start to grab food and not allow others to have any?

As said, it is with horses, a matter of safety.

I have had horses come to me that as soon as I walk into heir stable with feed their ears go back, rude faces made and no respect for my space. They want their feed and they want it NOW. They get it all right, I will whack them with the bucket and if the feed goes on the floor, tough, they wanted it so they got it.
Only takes once and they realise that the terms are mine.

I am not against feeding treats when they are earned.

Giving treats just because you have something in your pocket is not so good.
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