"First let me say that when I deal with biting horses more than 90% of them have been fed treats from the human hand. When we associate food with the human body we are training horses to bite,
Afraid I don't give much credence to a many of Monty's opinions. This is one of them. That's like saying 90% of horses who have a rearing problem have people who hang off the bit, so bits cause rearing & should be avoided.
Personally, my horses, and others I work with are trained NOT to bite, under any circumstances and they will be punished if they do & even if they look like they might bite, or 'even' mouth or 'mug' that behaviour will never
be rewarded. No, I don't train horses to bite.
I agree pretty much with Stacey Westfall's article you linked to. That IF a horse has been 'spoilt' before, if he's not well enough trained in basic 'manners'(respect?), if he's come to see people as 'vending machines' or treats are too distracting for eg, I generally would avoid food treats, until a good, 'respectful' relationship is established. Exceptions have been fearful horses, or 'shut down' horses, to 'start the ball rolling' in associating me & my 'games & toys' with Good Stuff. Unlike her, I do use food specifically for training, and (not least from being unfortunately very well acquainted with IR & laminitis) wouldn't be giving my horses a handful, let alone a bucket of those kind of treats!
She went on to say that treats were used as a reward for the behavior desired . This horse would actually stalk me and charge with ears back and mouth open.
Basic fact is, horses do what works & quit doing what doesn't work. Again, just because someone has unwittingly *taught* this horse to do that is no reason to blame the tools. I've seen many, many horses develop behavioural issues from being 'round penned', even(especially??) following Monty's own precise 'recipe', so with Monty's above logic, he should be cautioning people to of the dangers of 'Join Up'. Bottom line is, if you don't understand what you're doing, with whatever 'tools', then it's very easy to go wrong.
The horse is afraid.
The horse is trying to dominate you.
Sometimes a horse will nip you to indicate he wants to play; this isn’t really biting
...Or yes, the horse HAS been inadvertently trained to do so, with inappropriately timed reinforcement or punishment, including(but not unique to) feeding treats. I have to say, biting is biting is biting IMO
, regardless whether it's 'just a playful nip' or otherwise, & I'd treat(pardon the pun, should be I WOULD NOT TREAT
) accordingly, regardless of the cause!
"Hand feeding treats to your horse is the quickest way I know to cause the horse to disrespect your space. ...
Horses establish dominance in the herd by controlling ... the resources of the herd (food and water).
I agree with the above. You can absolutely teach 'wrong' behaviours incredibly quickly with strong consequences, & food treats are often(not always) one of those. It is also incredibly quick to teach a horse, with *appropriate, well timed* treats, to 'respect your space', have 'good manners', etc. Whatever the behaviour that 'works' will be repeated more frequently. And I do agree with the basic principles of 'NH' as I understand them, and making the most of natural behaviours such as controlling resources is one factor in line with using food as reinforcement in training. Point is, YOU control the resource & don't let the horse call the shots!
I think, in the same way as trailer loading problems are not so much about the trailer specifically, people get hung up on thinking 'it's about the food', when it's about understanding the underlying principles(of behavioural training, of timing, etc) to be able to be effective and minimise 'side effects' of whatever you use.