Food/Treat Aggression/Pushiness - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 85 Old 04-18-2019, 11:25 PM
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When I lessoned and leased, I was the queen of the treats -- I always had treats in my pocket and treated everyone, especially my crusty ol' lease horse.

Now that I have horses of my own, I don't constantly treat. I kind of came to the conclusion that I want my horses to look forward to being with ME, not getting a treat. My ranch horses taught me a thing or two about horses with a work ethic -- when they are haltered, tied, being groomed and tacked, ridden, or waiting to be ridden, they are doing a job. They enjoy their jobs and take it seriously. They don't really need constant distractions and food bribes or rewards.

We did offer treats at the beginning, but they really did prove to be distracting, and all four of ours get tempted to be pushy, snuffly and unfocused if they think they are getting treats.

Our horses are always happy to get their supplements and rice bran, and consider that a big nightly treat. Once a week on Sundays we take apples, carrots, and/or horse treats to them and just hang out and hand feed and pet them. They appreciate that without expecting treats every time we work with them.
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post #32 of 85 Old 04-18-2019, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
I guess what I'm asking, in short, is why some people say, "My horse (or horse x) never gets treats because they get pushy [after I give them one]." as opposed to fixing it?
Why constantly set your horse up to be corrected?

Having used treats both liberally and sparingly, I think that constantly treating is sort of like constantly buying a kid gifts to win their favor. I used to give treats too win over the lesson horses I'd ride, because I wanted them to enjoy being around me and working with me.

My own horses have a lot of affection for me. They start nickering as soon as they see me, even though it's not time for hay or supps, and they rarely get a treat. If I grab a halter, both of my horses are heads up at their stall gate, nickering to be the one who is picked.

I don't really see the benefit of setting them up to expect and demand food, just to correct them and put them in their place. What's the point of that?

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to giving treats. Every horse and owner is a unique pair with a unique relationship.
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post #33 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 07:07 AM
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For me, I will not accept any kind of Aggression or pushiness of any kind from my Horses, Kid, Dogs etc.. With that being said I think its more about gaining respect and teaching respectable manners.

With my horses, I do not really give out treats, this does not mean I don't give any at all but I am not consistent with giving them. My plan for this is my horses never expect to get a treat and if I decide I want to give a treat I never give from my hand I always stick the treat in a grain bucket with half a handful of hay mixed in and give it to them that way while holding the bucket and I never carry treats in my pockets ( for me this prevents them from associating my hands or body with treats).. My horses are not allowed to be pushy they have to wait for me to offer them the bucket. WIth hay feeding- My horses will greet me at the pasture gate but they know that when I am ready to come in with the hay they need to move off and wait for me to come in the pasture and go to the hay feeding area they can follow on either side of me but they must give me my personal space if they move to close to my personal space all I have to do is just look at the side of there face or point to the side of there face and they move back out of my space. when I get to the feeding area they stand and wait for me to put down a pile of hay when I walk away from that pile they can go to it. If they try to get pushy I claim the hay bucket and my space and I get them to give to my personal bubble and I will do that as much as I need to do before they are allowed to eat. But I say yes if you have a pushy/aggressive horse with food or treats I think you should work on correcting the behavior as a horse that is pushy or aggressive is a potentially dangerous horse.
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post #34 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 11:06 AM Thread Starter
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I'm not really taking about the dishing out of food/treats, as I understand why a horse should have manners for that.

So, food aggression/pushiness should be corrected (when the food is already down and the horse is eating, but you want to go over there an mess with the horse, instead of leaving the horse to eat in peace), but choose to simply not give the horse treats (instead of trying to fix the aggression/pushiness).

Technically, both (food/treat aggression/pushiness) could be avoided by not messing with the horse while they are eating or giving them treats. Technically, if what you guys say is true, both (food/treat aggression/pushiness) could be corrected/fixed.

I guess I still don't understand why people are so adamant about correcting food aggression/pushiness, but not treat aggression - as in simply not dealing with it by simply not feeding treats. Again, this is solely on one reason - based on aggression/pushiness, not stuff like diet considerations, allergies, or you simply not wanting to..

I've heard some people say they don't carry treats anywhere near their horse or feed treats to their horse *specifically due to treat aggression/pushiness* (not stuff like diet or allergies).

Isn't it kind of a safety thing to teach a horse how to be respectful around treat time, even if you aren't going to feed treats a lot/regularly?

As in @newtrailriders post:
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 do not, nor do I condone, feeding random horses treats without their owner's permission, but in the case above, wouldn't it still have been safer to teach the horse to accept treats respectfully? Again, even if you aren't feeding treats a lot, often, or regularly....

I am not talking about giving a treat when the horse is being aggressive/pushy (you know, like, rewarding the horse for it); I am talking about after their first treat. Some horse (and I speak from experience) get a little aggressive/pushy after their first treat looking for a second - even if they were giving the first initial treat as an out-of-the-blue surprise - and they were an absolute, perfect, little, angel. To avoid this, some people choose to simply not give their horse treats (again, for absolutely no other reason besides their aggressive/pushy behavior). I just don't understand why some people choose to "fix" treat aggression/pushiness by simply not feeding their horse treats.

I know that sounds like a rant, but I am genuinely wondering why, as stated in my first post.

Sorry. I don't really know how else to explain it. I know I just said the same thing forty times....

Last edited by Equilibrium; 04-19-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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post #35 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 11:35 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cedar & Salty View Post
Why constantly set your horse up to be corrected?
No offence, but I honestly don't know what that means....
What do you mean by "corrected"? Do you mean something like discipline or a correction/modification of behavior?

If it is the latter, then, technically, there are a lot of thing we do to set a horse up to be "corrected."

For example:
What about a (herd, buddy, barn, whatever) "sour" horse? Until you teach the horse that it is okay to be away, every time you try to take them away, technically, you are "constantly set[ting] your horse up to be corrected." Right?
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post #36 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 12:53 PM
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My wife rarely rides. She likes to take carrots out to the three horses living in the corral. They line up and she feeds them pieces. Sometimes out of her fingers, which makes me uncomfortable but they are all very careful. I can't tell you how she disciplines them because she never has. "If they start pulling faces, a look or an "Oy!" is all I need, and they become polite again." - @SueC Maybe that is how my wife does it. But...I can't recall the horses ever getting pushy with her at carrot time.

When I step into the corral to feed them, all fussing must stop. Once in a while, I have to set the food aside and make that clear. I feed them 3 times a day. When it rains, the mud is slicker than snot on a doorknob. For MY safety, there will be no fussing at ANYONE while I am in the corral!

That said, a horse is welcome to walk beside me as I go to their feeding place. Most of the time, the horse goes ahead and waits for me at whichever bucket they want to claim. I don't make them stand away. If they are walking toward the bucket while I dump the feed, I dump & turn away. There is a huge difference between a soft horse strolling over to get some food, and an aggressive horse MARCHING over to TAKE the food. A strolling horse gets food and sometimes wither rubs and maybe a face rub if they ask for one. A marching horse gets the hammer of Thor.

My wife sometimes brushes them and curries them while they eat. They sometimes leave their food and follow her when she stops, so I guess they like it. Personally...I think the big thing is that we don't focus on being the boss. We won't be bossed by the horse, but we also don't micromanage their behavior. We aren't competing with them. Even in riding, we often are mostly hanging out with them while on their backs - horse hiking, I call it. Hiking together. Horses also understand the difference between someone who strolls and someone who marches......and they stroll with strollers.
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post #37 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
No offence, but I honestly don't know what that means....
What do you mean by "corrected"? Do you mean something like discipline or a correction/modification of behavior?

If it is the latter, then, technically, there are a lot of thing we do to set a horse up to be "corrected."

For example:
What about a (herd, buddy, barn, whatever) "sour" horse? Until you teach the horse that it is okay to be away, every time you try to take them away, technically, you are "constantly set[ting] your horse up to be corrected." Right?
I guess what I mean is that my horses are very bonded to me, trust me, respect me and are very willing to work, any time or any place. They walk up to me to put their heads in their halters (whether stalled or turned out). They will patiently stand tied for hours. They stand quietly to be tacked up. They lead quietly, and will walk forward, back and circle at liberty. They are decent to mount from the ground or a mounting block. They load easily in a trailer, and unload safely. They happily work in the arena or out, with their buddies or without. All of this without treats. Heck, Cedar didn't know what an apple, carrot or horse treat was for 6 months after we bought him.

If I fill my pockets up with treats that they can smell, and dole them out at random intervals, they are distracted, hoping they will get a treat, and are not focused on their jobs. So why fill up my pockets with treats? Why try to fix something that isn't broken?

It's like sitting four little kids around a table with a heaping platter of cookies in the center, then serving them a big old plate of broccoli. Even if they normally like broccoli, they are going to want to eat cookies more. Why put the cookies on the table in the first place, when you know it's going to start a battle?

As I've aged, I've learned, with horses and people, that power doesn't always need to be publicly and frequently wielded. It's far better to avoid a power struggle, and not engage in constant battles for respect over things that don't matter.
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post #38 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cedar & Salty View Post
If I fill my pockets up with treats that they can smell, and dole them out at random intervals, they are distracted, hoping they will get a treat, and are not focused on their jobs. So why fill up my pockets with treats? Why try to fix something that isn't broken?

It's like sitting four little kids around a table with a heaping platter of cookies in the center, then serving them a big old plate of broccoli. Even if they normally like broccoli, they are going to want to eat cookies more. Why put the cookies on the table in the first place, when you know it's going to start a battle?
I never said to carry around a fanny pack full of treats and tempt the horse....

I'm asking why some people choose to deal with/"fix" treat aggression/pushiness by simply never giving treats (instead of teaching the horse respect around treat time), but are very adamant about respect when feeding food?

Why work on food aggression/pushiness but not treat aggression/pushiness?

If you state that you avoid food aggression/pushiness by simply not messing with the horse while they are eating, that's considered "reinforcing very dangerous behavior and teaching the horse disrespect."
However, if you state that you avoid treat aggression/pushiness by simply not giving the horse treats, people just shrug it off saying, "your horse - your rules or horses don't *NEED* treats." Even though you, technically, don't *NEED* to mess with the horse while they are eating their dinner grain, either...?

I wonder why because it sounds a little contradicting and hypocritical.

Last edited by Equilibrium; 04-19-2019 at 05:05 PM.
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post #39 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Equilibrium View Post
If you state that you avoid food aggression/pushiness by simply not messing with the horse while they are eating, that's considered "reinforcing very dangerous behavior and teaching the horse disrespect."
However, if you state that you avoid treat aggression/pushiness by simply not giving the horse treats, people just shrug it off saying, "your horse - your rules or horses don't *NEED* treats." Even though you, technically, could simply not just mess with your horse while they are eating their dinner grain - for as they say, "your horse - your rules." People say, "your horse - your rules" for treat aggression/pushiness, but not food aggression/pushiness. Or, even though you, technically, don't *NEED* to mess with the horse while they are eating their dinner grain, either...?
Edited.
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post #40 of 85 Old 04-19-2019, 06:55 PM
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I can halter any of my horses in the middle of their breakfast or dinner hay, easily pull them off it, and they will go to work. I try not to do it, because they get great joy from eating their hay. There are times I have to do it -- like this morning, I had to halter Salty and load him in a trailer to go to a clinic. He didn't like it (he had no idea he was getting into the trailer with a hay bag), but he certainly did it, because I am the boss and the boss controls food.

When I give my horses their nightly bowl of supplements I make them take two steps back, because the boss controls the food and other horses' feet.

I certainly CAN and DO feed my horses treats if I want to, but the first thing a professional trainer told my daughter to do when she was struggling with respect issues with her horse was to stop hand feeding treats. The second was to leave him tacked and tied for 30 minutes after every ride.

Hay and supplements are necessary, and manners surrounding them need to be consistently enforced. Treats are not necessary, are not always helpful, and often (not always) serve only the human's ego and add confusion for the horse like the cookie/broccoli scenario.
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