nick

Feeding Treats

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I know we've had this topic a hundred times before, but i'm bringing it up because I see more and more people at our barn feeding treats and just don't get it. i can understand rewarding a horse for understanding and performing stuff like circus tricks with treats right away and from the hand, but for just behaving well?? so far I haven't seen anybody getting really pushy yet, but I have seen the odd nose in a pocket after the rider gets off and it isn't corrected. you can reasonably ask why do I care, well I do because sometimes I get asked to turn a horse out, change a bandage or hold a horse for the vet or farrier because the owner can't be there for whatever reason and I don't like being frisked while i'm doing it. to me that's the same thing as being groped--I don't care for that either and consider it extremely disprectful, and of course i'll correct that too.

there are many schools of thought on this, but on a foundation level I believe a horse getting relief for good behavior is the best teaching tool you can offer, and those who behave in an undesirable get their lives made very uncomfortable. i'm not talking about flogging here just correction when it's called for. and I am personally of the opinion that feeding treats for good behavior is absolutely counter-productive; I don't do it with our dog and I most certainly don't with our horses.

now all these ladies (of course they're all women!) also don't believe in harsh corrections or corrections at all as far as I can tell, and they get upset with you if you defend yourself when their horse is pushing into your space or nibbling on your hair. maybe this is just a European thing, but we haven't had a new topic posted here in a while so thought we could have another discussion round on everybody's thoughts as to what the psychology of this is.

one more thought on this topic, a lot of ladies here think their horse "nickers" to them when they see them coming. (everytime they show up the horse gets a treat). who or what to do you think the horse is nickering to lol?

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If I use treats it's to overcome a bad association a horse might have developed in the past with a specific thing. And I admit I've used the apple sauce on the bit technique with horses that are hard to bridle.

As a general thing, though? I think we can argue it both ways.

It's absolutely not just a European thing. It's a basic misunderstanding of natural horsemanship principles - and it does seem to be mostly women who do it, too.

What kind of correction and reinforcement I use depends on the horse. I have one horse I work with that I won't even carry a whip around because she is absolutely terrified of whips - I'm pretty sure she was flogged more than a few times by some previous owner, based of that and some other reactions she's shown - and I have no idea why anyone would hit a lively, sensitive, forward going horse like her. Sigh. I ride another I would never get on without one because oh boy will that guy push the envelope, and I won't tolerate his ****.

I think one of the things we miss when we talk about schools of thought is that everything depends on the horse.

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Oh definitely, and then it often ends with somebody else having to be far harsher with the animal than you would have needed to be in the first place :/.

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Giving a horse treats doesn't necessarily spoil it. Some will get nippy and pushy when treats are given. You have to discontinue giving them to those horses. Some are very well behaved despite getting treats for no reason. You can't make generalizations about every horse. No one has met them all. That being said, I have noticed that some horses just can't handle sugary treats while they are perfectly polite about alfalfa pellets or something else they find delicious.

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I want that 1300 pound animal OUT of my space. don't give treats in the first place so that kind of nonsense doesn't even start.

shameless, i'd teach the horse that a crop can be a massage tool, that it can be something nice for her. i gather you ride a lot of horses for rehoming, this is something she MUST learn to find a good home. teach her to relax with the crop.

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Oh, no, this one belongs to the lesson barn and the owner loves her. I doubt she's going anywhere.

It's something to consider, but she has so many other issues to resolve first - although her reaction to the new footing was hilarious. (And I couldn't laugh because she really was worried, but a 14 hand horse reacting like a cat who'd just discovered the yard had snow in it and going Nopenopenope was just funny. She wasn't doing anything dangerous and she worked out pretty quickly that this weird grey crunchy stuff wasn't actually going to hurt her, but I SO wish I had a video).

Plus as I said, I can't envision anyone ever needing a crop on her - she's not pushy and the last thing you need is anything that might encourage her to go faster :P

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I want that 1300 pound animal OUT of my space. don't give treats in the first place so that kind of nonsense doesn't even start.

Read more: http://forums.horsecity.com/index.php?showtopic=47105174#ixzz3wsnkyqMt

You really have no say-so over another person's horse, nor should you, unless you're being paid to handle it. If you don't like the way someone else's horse behaves, refuse to handle it and tell the owner why.

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Yes, this is an old topic, and I am on the list, far as not feeding hand treats.

There has been a huge out cry, concerning negative versus positive re-enforcement, with those in the positive only camp,often limiting that positive re-enforcement to food treats alone, which obviously has to be used, esp at first, using clicker training. Whole nother topic, but I reserve clicker training from where it came from- dolphin training, and 'pure' liberty training, like in circus acts

Positive re-enforcement, that I use, along with the same old pressure and release from pressure,( considered negative re enforcement) is a scratch on the withers or a good boy, or good girl, or simply ending a training session when a horse has made a big effort.

Sure, some people might be very attuned to feeding hand treats, never allowing that horse to become pushy, but the chance for negative training is huge, plus I never want my horse to work for me out of expected food rewards., but rather out of respect, trust and body control.

When that horse encounters something he really considers a horse eating monster on the trail, I am not about to click and whip out some treats, nor rely on the horse's stomach to over rule his fear!

Not going to click and carry treats in a show ring,, but I can reward him, after a class, for a good effort, by that scratch on the withers

I read of case somewhere, about a horse e being used to being fed hand treats. He was not aggressive, but knew that the woman carried those treats in the breast pocket of her shirt. Horsey tried to 'self serve himself, and bit off part of that ****!

I also don't plan on having any of my horses view me as a human vending machine!

Many people feed treats because it gives them a 'warm fuzzy ; feeling, and makes them think the horse will thus 'love them' or stop loving them, if they don't feed treats.

Far as assuming a horse was beaten with a whip, unless you truly know past history, that can at times, be a false assumption, just made by the horse's reaction to that whip, or lunge line, or rope, ect, ect

I never ride with whips or bats, but have seen green horses freak out at lunge whips, that have never even been exposed to one before, let alone beaten-horses you can't pick a coat or rain slicker off a post on, until they are taught it is no threat, and to have then accept you doing so. They will freak, and even buck you off, if not having been introduced to having a rain slicker picked up, and I am quite sure they were never beaten with that rain slicker!

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I don't "assume" she was beaten.

I suspect she was based off of her reactions and behavior. And it really doesn't matter - my approach is pretty much the same anyway and it's working. A friend of mine has been working on fixing her ground manners, which have definitely improved. (They were pretty lousy).

And horses can be weird sometimes. I had one many years ago who was perfect to catch until the day I tried to catch him in, yup, a full length rain slicker.

Nope, nope, nope.

I have no idea why he was terrified of people wearing rain slickers, but he was. I cured him by hanging it on his stall door for him to thoroughly inspect on his own time. He cowered in the corner for a bit then curiosity won out.

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An apple a day to keep the vet away and two carrots to supply the required Vit A naturally. Most of it goes in their dinner, but I always approach with something in my hands and they are there to meet me with manners. I'm tossing it up in the air and catching it as I approach, telling them yes, it is an apple, but it also moves, then throw it. I'll roll them down the hill and watch them play plinko or flip it over a stall wall as I pass by. Never from the hand. The reason comes from treating my horses like they already are IR, because I'm not going there, so they must earn what goes in their mouth, even the treats. Ofcourse, having chased down the apple, they come back to my hand. I then have trained them by cupping both hands over their mouth and holding for a sec and saying all gone, and they believe me.

Getting everybody together to treat the same would be a huge undertaking. On the other side, you could just play the game at the time and keep them busy. Show him what's in your pockets and turn them inside out. Go with it. Just keep saying, "its not my horse", lol!

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I feed my stallion and both mares apples or carrots a couple times a week, just because I can. They enjoy it, and I enjoy knowing they enjoy it. They are always well-behaved about it because I always insist. They have to go stand in their stalls and wait for me to get there with it.

Edited by ozland

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Of course there are many experienced horse people that feed treats (I'm talking specifically hand treats, not some food treat in a bucket, thrown over the fence, ect), that do it in a safe manner, knowing how to read horses, thus knowing when they step over the line, thus keeping them respectful.

There is the 'do as I say, not what I do,', that can apply. Thus, while I will firmly state on any public forum, read by all level of horse people, simply to never feed hand treats, dose not mean I don't privately make an exception from time to time!

Shameless, I am not going to question your horse's history, as I don't know it, but at the same time, a horse that has poor ground manners, usually goes hand in hand with a spoiled horse, not an abused horse

As to why the horse freaked, when caught by a person wearing a slicker- very simple answer- the beast is a horse, belonging to the prey species, and it is their inborn instinct to be on the alert against anything different of suspicious.It is also why so many people work on endless desensitizing, which is flawed to an extent

You will never be able to expose a horse to everything he might encounter, and if you just rely on that, it is going to back fire on you sometime!

What is more successful, is to build trust and respect in that horse, put body control on him, so you can diffuse flight reaction. That horse thus then learns to trust your judgement, and has the respect to obey your cues, when you assure him you know something is okay. He then dampens his reactions, and controls his inborn flight response.

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Yes, I do wonder , Missy, that someone as concerned about NSC, would feed apple treats. Horses do get enough Vit A and E from fresh forage, and if on an only hay diet, I supplement Vit E

Horses didn't evolve eating carrots and apples, and in fact, have to acquire a taste for them

I guess the same reasoning can be applied to beet pulp, LOl, and I do feed my horses a treat of beet pulp, in a feeder, after haltering them and bringing them in to be saddled or worked with!

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People didn't evolve to eat ice cream either, but we do............

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Or possibly a horse that was never trained consistently. It's hard to tell, but boy is she a different horse after some proper handling. Although it was funny. She doesn't like people in her stall when she has food - that was actually our biggest problem, food aggression.

The other night it was pretty cold. I put her in her stall with a hay net then went and got her rug. I step into her stall and I get the full blown ears pinned, dirty look, get out.

Hold up the rug and you could just see her go "Oh. Wait. Hold on. I want that." *laugh*. She's also done the same thing and told me to get out and I've held up the bridle and she rushed forward to put her head in it. I guess she wanted to work...

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My horse does nicker to me, and not because of treats. He will nicker to me when he's out in the pasture and then go back to eating. He also nickered to me once when I stood on the deck calling "Here kitty, kitty." I guess he was answering for the cat who did not come.

Shameless, is this mare a thoroughbred that might have been raced?

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My stallion has ALWAYS pinned his ears when I walk in to feed him. The only thing it ever seemed to mean was "please hurry, I'm hungry". In all these years I've pretty much ignored it, and it never progressed. He remains mannerly the whole time I'm in the stall, and I usually do a bit of grooming at the same time.

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There was one incident with this mare when we first got her when I tried to bridle her with food (just hay) in the stall. It ended up taking three of us to safely get the bridle on her. We're talking a major league freak out with hooves flying everywhere.

So, she can pin her ears and give me all the dirty looks she wants, as long as she doesn't try anything past that. Which she doesn't any more. I've honestly found that the faces are best ignored - horses that make faces are trying to intimidate you and if you don't react they generally don't escalate it.

No, Jubal. She's a small Paint or Paint cross. As in she's 14 hands tops. I can't imagine she raced - I mean, I suppose it's theoretically possible, but I'd think she'd be too small, and I suspect her of having a good slice of some kind of pony breed in her. Although I'm betting she'd run barrels sweet if any of us knew how to ride her for it - she's pretty fast and catty and as long as you don't set off her anxiety, her handle's good.

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I just thought fear of the whip and poor ground manners sounded like a thoroughbred that had been raced or at least race trained.

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I have never encountered an OTTB with fear of the whip.

Not saying there aren't OTTBs out there who are afraid of the whip, but none of the admittedly small sample I've worked with have been. Iffy ground manners I have definitely encountered.

My one consistent issue I've seen with OTTBs is they find it really hard to adjust to standing to be mounted from having the jockey tossed into the saddle as they walk past. Always takes forever to convince them to stand...

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I have a friend who is retraining her racing quarter horse. She said it's afraid of a whip and of course, has big problems with rein contact.

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I haven't worked with QH/Paint/Appy off the track at all.

And I wasn't denying that there are some - just that it's by no means universal. Heck, one of the OTTBs I used to ride...let's just say I reckon he had a short and inglorious career (He was retired from show jumping) because, well, don't racehorses need to go fast? ;)

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I have a friend who is retraining her racing quarter horse. She said it's afraid of a whip and of course, has big problems with rein contact.

Try retraining an ex-halter trained Arabian. You want to see whip fear?

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No thanks, although I think the toughest retraining job I ever witnessed was an off the track Standardbred.

"What do you mean you want me to canter?"

Poor thing - when he arrived he wouldn't even canter out in the field (and confused the heck out of all of the ponies by beating them in play races at the pace. They'd never seen anything like it).

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That brings back memories! One of the first horses I put under saddle many years ago was an off-track Standardbred. AWFUL to get a decent canter!

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He ended up quite a useful little low level hunter, but I remember not envying the trainer as she chased him around with a lunge whip trying to get him to break into a canter and he was just going "I don't get what you waaaant"

Poor Starsky. He'd raced for four seasons - that's a long time to be under one set of rules to have them suddenly changed on him like that.

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Gotta feel sorry for them really. It's like suddenly changing religion.

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^^^LOL. Yeah, they pretty much discourage cantering at the harness tracks! I can't believe how fast they are at a trot or pace either.

Oz, I hate that. And at the ASB show stables there's all that hollering and air cans and any other forms of noise. It makes me nervous, never mind the horses. People can sure think up crazy #$%^ to do to animals.

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