Giving Treats: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly - Page 5 - The Horse Forum
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post #41 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 09:57 AM
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Location: Palmer Lake CO
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Hi All!
Originally Posted by jenkat86 View Post
Now...what I cannot STAND is when my mother in law comes over with an entire bag of apples and wants to feed the whole thing to three horses. NO. Just no.
The whole neighborhood comes by with treats for The Herd. They always ask for permission (when they see me watching). "Oh, sure, they only _live_ for 'em . . ." I do ask that they don't go overboard, and limit treats to carrots or slices of apple; no candy please. Fat, spoiled horses -R- us :-)

I too like to give treats. I'm generally good for something before breakfast, and knowing this, they line up at the gate when they see me coming. I feed by hand, and use the opportunity to handle their lips, tongue, and nose. They have all become very gentle about it, even tiny children can fondle their mouth w/o fear.

Foto: George socializing with the neighbors :-)
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post #42 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 11:56 AM
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We have a top Arabian show/breeding/training/lesson barn near us that have Open Days and a regular flow of people going there for various reasons. On the open days there are buckets of carrots for visitors to hand feed the horses and people who go for lessons are able to get a carrot from the supply to 'thank' their horse when they've finished. I never saw a horse there grab or pin its ears - maybe because they're expected to be respectful and bad habits aren't allowed
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post #43 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 01:59 PM
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I think treats are a good tool. They encourage a horse to come to you, even if it's not to go riding. There is nothing worse than a horse you can't catch. A carrot is cheap insurance that they'll come to you. If you don't want to hand feed for fear of causing biting habits, place a carrot in a bucket or feed station when they come up to the fence.
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post #44 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 03:06 PM
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We often feed treats, alfalfa pellets mostly. I always have my fanny pack, like Saddlebag, with treats in it.

I learned the hard way about treating horses. When we first got back into horses, we treated them, but the horses got pushy and nippy so we stopped. Then, I became interested in clicker training and learned why my horses were nippy. I had not been paying attention to their bad manners like ears back and pushing into our space.

When I began clicker training, we built a strong foundation of good manners first. Of our three horses at the time, our food aggressive gelding struggled with it a bit longer than the others, and would revert to aggression occasionally to see if it would work, so I was always VERY firm with him.

Now all of our horses are well trained in gentle treat taking, and we are always ready to go "back to basics" if needed. But that has not been necessary for at least 2 years.

I treat often. When I lead them, I often stop suddenly and treat if they stop quickly with me, or stop and back up, and treat if they stop and back up quickly with me. They never know when I will do that, and I don't always treat them, so they never know.

It also means when they get loose, they are easy to catch. My neighbor came to tell me my horses were loose and was panicked that they were on the road. She was so surprised when I just walked out and called them, and they came at a gallop as soon as they heard/saw me, then calmly followed me back to their pasture. They also come running when I call them in the pasture, even for work.

I feed treats while we ride too. I make a cluck sound when they are doing something really well, like a nice smooth trot with back engaged, or a nice side by side with another horse, and their gates are matching.

I am always looking for a challenge or extraordinary behavior to reward, and I usually find something. I also think it makes them look forward to their work, not just for the treats, but also for the mental challenges.

Yesterday, I treated my mare for going really slowly on a trail while I trimmed branches from her back. She had to listen for each step. My hands were busy, so she needed to listen to my legs and seat only, as I asked her to back up while I pulled a long branch to snap it. She was flawless as she did it, so I clucked as she did. Then, when the branch was broken and placed where I wanted it, I gave her the treat. She was very pleased with herself!

When I treat from the saddle, I tap her with the treat on the side on which I am holding the treat, then she turns her head. I keep her head there for a few seconds, using this as a great neck stretch. Then, I place the treat in the corner of her mouth, where there are no teeth.

We also stop every so often on rides to share water (and whiskey, a human treat!), and when we do, we give our horses treats sometimes. The horses must stand side by side and not make faces or nip or kick at each other. They are lovely about it most of the time now.
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post #45 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 03:49 PM
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Depends - if it is something like apples for everyone then it goes in with their feed or in their feed pots (watermelon) when we are done and I call them up. Those that behave well will occasionally get treats after we have done something together or they have accomplished something I have been working on, usually apples or carrots. I bought a bag of special baked treats for the horses and not thinking left them in the middle of the table. My big dog, I discovered, likes them as well. He ate/shared the entire bag with the rest of the dogs and the cat. So sad, too bad, poor ponies now no special treats. I'll add this as well. We kept our drafts at a historic demonstration farm. People fed treats no matter the signage. It also, I found out, doesn't matter the treat. Some horses are just bad when it comes to them. One family came up to see them and saw the do not feed but assumed that was treats and pulled hay to give. My mare is a pig when it comes to treats and the kid was afraid so dropped the hay every time she walked up. My mare's solution was to pick the child up by the hair(pony tail) . She was uninvited from the farm.
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Last edited by QtrBel; 04-18-2015 at 03:55 PM.
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post #46 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 05:40 PM
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Looks like I am the meanie... I rarely give treats.
I used to give them often, back when I only had one horse. He was so spoiled, it got to the point that he would refuse an apple if it was mushy. This horse is very non reactive (as in would stand there and watch you as you shouted and threw a tarp at his head on a windy day), so is not afraid of any punishment, verbal or otherwise. To this day, he will steal a big bite of grain from the herd leader's bucket, and will stand there and take the kick or bite from the leader, just so he can steal a second mouthful before going to his own bucket.
So when he started getting overly pushy with me, I had to cut out the treats.
Fast forward to the present, this horse is being part leased. The lady who rides him gives treats all the time, and I have seen him use his head to give her a Big push to demand more.
So now I have to tell her she can't give him treats anymore, even though she loves to :(
Maybe I will have her only give treats out of a bucket? She literally shows up with a few apples that are washed and precut lol.
None of the other horses are pushy like him (because I guess I still give the occasional carrot lol)
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post #47 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 05:45 PM
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Well, if someone were to ask me if I believed in treating horses, the political correct answer , would be 'no', esp if the person asking is new to horses, thus not able to recognize when the horse steps over the line
If I had to be honest, I admit to treating my horses once in awhile,but I do not use it as a training aid
Food rewards, are maybe applicable to liberty training, and that is also where they entire clicker training transferred over from
I strongly believe that under saddle training works best through the age old reward of release from pressure, or a verbal praise or pat, with that timing being correct
I don't carry treats, but I can reward my horse after a good go at a show, with a pat, a reward he understands
I see the timing of this reward, often off. For instance, the class lines up after individual goes in a trail class, and if a rider places well, he pats his horse, then leaves the arena. The horse no longer associates that pat with having done an honest pattern, but with leaving the arena. Time to pat him,was as soon as he went through that out gate,after a good go
I usually give a horse that I'm going to work, some beet pulp, in a bucket, after he was easy to halter and bring in
Random feeding of hand treats, soon as a horse looking at you like his human vending machine. It gives that human a warm fuzzy feeling, but really does not much for the horse, other that giving him often calories he does not need, and make him pushy
Saw a great cartoon once
Two horses are talking to each other. One was shaking a person upside down, causing treats to fall out of his pockets.
The horse doing the shaking said, 'see, food does come out when you shake them!"
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post #48 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 06:03 PM
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Interesting, this thread hasn't had all the opinions I've been used to hearing(cept a little in the last). No one crying 'My horse/dog Should work for me, not rewards' for eg. People are also generally of the understanding that treats do not make a 'rude' horse, but people who reward rudeness maketh a rude horse. I'm impressed!
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post #49 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 06:37 PM
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Those cookies I created have worked to my advantage. When I hook up the horse trailer in the morning for lessons, or a show, of course after he's in the paddock, he has a 5 or 10 minute spell of running around, not wanting to be caught until he tires, it's rather annoying. Yes, there are ways to train him out of that, but I am too tired & old to bother with it, let him run. Anyways, I take out those bag of cookies, the running stops and he comes right over to me, head down to put on his halter so he can get his cookie. Time saver cookies I call 'em.
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post #50 of 134 Old 04-18-2015, 06:45 PM
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I put mine in their bucket or on the ground. Rarely by hand.
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