Giving Treats: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 134 Old 04-17-2015, 10:22 PM
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"Someone" (previous owner) somehow taught my horse some really nasty treat begging behavior. She would pin her ears and nod her head really aggressively, begging for treats. Why on earth would anyone reward that behavior with a treat?

Raven gets no treats by hand at all now. I've told everyone at our barn to stop.
The ugly face behavior is pretty much gone, although if someone sneaks her a treat it will start right back up again whenever she sees that person!

People at our barn treat way to much in my opinion.

One little piece of carrot or apple in the food dish to say hello, and one more on my way out the door. That's all my horse gets.
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post #32 of 134 Old 04-17-2015, 10:40 PM
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I'm big on positive reinforcement in training, be that treats or otherwise. As horses learn from association, and think/remember more in pictures & feelings, I believe it's important, invaluable even, to associate what we want of the horse - work, 'right' behaviours - with Good Stuff.

I usually have some treats on me, and in initial training/teaching new stuff to a horse, I do use them quite frequently, but from then on, it's sporadic, more often only given for Extra Special responses... or occasionally just because I commonly wear a bumbag with treats(& phone, pocket knife, money, etc) & don't give any to anyone for the whole visit/ride.

Having a background in behavioural psych, I well understand how easy it is however, to get timing wrong, to inadvertently reinforce Wrong behaviours due to not being conscious/careful of what it is we're rewarding. Or negatively reinforcing for that matter. Or punishing for that matter.

It's not the specific consequence(be that Good Stuff/treats or Bad Stuff/pressure/punishment) that causes Wrong behaviour,(eg treats DO NOT cause 'nippiness') but we need to be conscious of exactly what it is that's going on at the time of the feedback, to know what we're reinforcing.

I do not want to EVER (as in, regardless what Good behaviour it comes with) reinforce Rude behaviour. I do not want to reinforce my horse expecting or searching for treats, or learning they don't have to do as I ask unless treats are forthcoming.

I very rarely see any value in bribing/luring a horse - that is, offering the treat in order to motivate a behaviour. It can sometimes be helpful in instigating a new behaviour initially. But when used repeatedly, especially if not very judiciously, that IMO tends to lead to inadvertent Wrong lessons, such as grab & run.
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post #33 of 134 Old 04-17-2015, 10:48 PM
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I treat my horses like I do my chickens, using them as animal garbage disposals. Last apples they got had soft spots. Last corn on the cob they got after I ate them as a leftover lunch.
My favorite treat is carrots. They are fibrous and healthy. I use them sparing, especially if I'm having a training issue and I think that a treat would make the training more pleasant. I also use them to stand far enough away that my horse has to walks at least one step towards me, to reinforce training.
I have always been a little bit horse poor and I could never really afford to be specialty horse treats. If I had more time I'd use the recipe above and make some healthy muffins.
My money goes into extra hay and grain and bedding. I'd rather save what I might spend on treats so that I can spend ~$100.00, like I did last on year on a Horseloverz super clearance, bits for $2/each, nice reins and nice breastplate, etc.
I am also saving up for a roof on my barn--$11K is the estimate for metal.

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post #34 of 134 Old 04-17-2015, 10:58 PM
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^Corporal, aside from fruit & vegie scraps(often shared between chooks, guineas & horses), the 'treats' I give are usually the ration balancer pellets that they'll get anyway, or a pinch of lucerne chaff or such. Other special treats include milk thistle, fruit & oak tree leaves, rosehips, etc. I don't see any point in buying special things for treats. If I bought peppermints, I'd feel they were wasted on horses! ...Tho I have been known to buy & share a sausage roll with my horse occasionally. In season, we also go blackberrying together.... 2 for me, one for you
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post #35 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 01:47 AM
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I love to cook, so I turn that hobby into a treat generator. I make my own treats and my horses love them. Here's a recipe in case anyone's interested:

shredded carrot
bran meal
flax seed meal
molasses or palm sugar or something naturally sweet

Put everything in a food processor. Then take it out, form it into a long, flat loaf (like you would for biscotti), bake it at about 350F for 20 minutes, take it out, cut into slivers, put back in a 200F oven for as long as it takes to dry them out.

What's nice about this shape (long, skinny treats) is you can use them for stretching exercises with your horse without worrying about getting a finger bitten. Here's how I do it: Hold the treat up by the horse's hip and make him stretch around on both sides to get it. Do the same down on the ground by his back hoof so he has to stretch way down to get it. And of course between the front legs down near the ground so he stretches the full length of his back. This stretches the neck and back really well and they get a yummy treat too. :)

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare
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post #36 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 03:57 AM
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Yeah, nice if you like baking & just for the sake of an occasional treat ecasey. I prefer raw ingredients & less sugary stuff, not just because I don't care for cooking for the sake of cooking, but that it is more than an occasional treat from me, so it might as well be healthy & they might as well get some nutrition from something like carrots & flax too, if they're having it

Yes, long treats, carrot stick or such can encourage stretching... if you do have your fingers in the way, so they can only take a tiny piece at a time. Because for it to be beneficial, stretches should be held for around 20 seconds or so. I personally find pellets, held in a half closed hand great stretch incentive.
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post #37 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 07:04 AM
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I taught the horses to come in loose from the field and go into their own stable by putting carrots in their mangers.
I started with letting one mare into the barn, in her stable there were carrots, if she went into another stable there were non. I would, if she was wrong, put her in her stable. Took her twice to learn, then did the same with each of them, simple! Only carrots if you were in the right place! They never caught on that after a few days there were carrots in every manger.
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post #38 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 08:08 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by loosie View Post
blackberrying together.... 2 for me, one for you
Now that's just plain wrong Anya!!!
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post #39 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 09:23 AM
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My horses get a lot of treats but they have been strictly taught to be polite about it. Anyone who gives them treats has been instructed by me on how to do it and what behavior is allowed and not allowed.
You can train a horse to be polite about treats or you can train a horse to be nasty/dangerous about treats. To say that giving treats makes a horse pushy,
nippy or dangerous is ridiculous to me. As usual, the problem lies in the human, not the horse.
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post #40 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Corporal View Post
I treat my horses like I do my chickens, using them as animal garbage disposals. Last apples they got had soft spots. Last corn on the cob they got after I ate them as a leftover lunch.
Don't get me started about treating the chickens!! My girls are super spoiled. Hot mash with corn, kale and rice in the winter, all the fruit and veggies they can eat in the summer... They are majorly spoiled. But super friendly and people oriented as a result :)
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