I handfeed treats when I turn out my pasture-kept mare. I taught her that it's not OK for her to turn her head towards me to beg for the treat, but to stand quietly with her head straight. She'll make the funniest "cookie faces" while keeping an eye on me as I take my time slipping the halter over my shoulder, looping the leadline, and getting the treat out of my pocket. The rule is that she will not bring her mouth to the treat, but that I will bring the treat to her mouth.
Training a horse to stand quietly and take the treat out of your hand gently and politely is no different than training them any other skill. I love feeding treats and my horses concur. It is always a milestone event when my foals can eat two treats at once!
Depends on the horse. I have one that I do and one that I don't. The one that I don't used to get them but gets very witchy about it, ears pinned, snaky neck which gets her in big trouble. I will throw some in her bucket after a good ride and that works out well for both of us.
The other one is a complete ham about it but not pushy, get in your space type of thing. So she still gets them from my hand.
If they're polite, yes. My one gelding could be stuffed with treats 24/7 and still be polite about it, but I just give him a few (1 for catching him, 1 after a ride). The other is polite 95% of the time. If he even thinks of being rude, he gets nothing. On the very, very rare occasions he tries to mug me, he's more likely to get a smack than a snack. Of course, his idea of mugging is to put his lips on my pocket. If he ever actually put his nose in my pocket, he would seriously regret it.
In the past I've had horses that were rude about it. The rule for them was no treats, ever, from anybody. I'd occasionally give in just once, and then spend the next 3 weeks fixing the rude behavior. I don't do 'in your pocket' horses. What some people consider cute and sweet (ie licking, nudging, searching pockets, rubbing) I consider rude, unacceptable behavior.
If you want manners, be clear. Allowing your horse to mug you, then getting upset when they mug too much isn't fair to the horse. It's either yes or no, not you can nibble but not bite, you can nudge but not push, today it's ok tomorrow it's not. Make it clear and expect that behavior 100% of the time.
Originally Posted by pinecone
I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.
I hand feed all of mine, and anyone else can hand feed them safely as well. We've had fosters come and go, and all have learned to take treats safely and politely. It's not rocket science. Be nice, or get nothing. They figure it out quickly.
I've hand fed treats to every horse I've owned. Never had a problem with a pushy horse. But they are TRAINED to not be pushy under any circumstances.
On the up side they quickly learn to come when called because they know there is the possibility of a treat as an incentive.
No, I give treats IN a bucket. A lady at my barn was hand feeding my gelding carrots every time she saw him, one day after my ride he turned around and started nosing me, which he does NOT do. So I squashed that, and tied a bucket to his pen and asked her to put them in the bucket instead. That way she could treat him, but I wouldn't have a "nosey" horse.
I would have a fit if someone else was feeding my horse treats - treats are the most common cause of choke - I make sure everyone finishes their treats always.
I hand feed treats - I think it is a great bonding mechanism and reward. It makes them happy and gives them something to look forward to.
My big gelding loves the barnies (molasses treats) but he only gets one per ride - split in half - one before the left leg stretches and one before the right leg stretches. It has made stretching much easier. Otherwise he gets carrots - has learned to put his halter on with carrots low - he is 18hh.
Barnies were a godsend for my son and his selle francais - she would never let anyone catch her - even with carrots - but when she smells that Barnie she is putty in your hands.
I have always hand fed treats. My horses are not allowed to get nippy or pushy. I had one that tried that route. And he was very similar to the OPs horse. If a slap on the neck and raised voice didn't back him off, I went to head mare mode. Fully face them, shoulders back, basic aggressive body language. Backs them all off instantly. Never had to repeat the lesson. Of course I make it very clear from the get go with all my horses, that I am dominate. Makes things very simple.
I am guilty of feeding all three of mine treats by hand. I have a mare, who was semi abused, and I have used treats to gain her trust and work through trust issues, she is always timid and gentle.. I do have a gelding, who can be a bit pushy, so I try to feed him in his bucket.
Some of them I did, some I didn't. The Promise Mare didn't know how to be impolite, so I didn't have any problem feeding her treats by hand. My old gelding, Stormy was just plain obnoxious about it, so he got treats in his bucket. The one I have now, Lexy, gets very pushy, very easily, but she understands limits. I still hand feed her, but she has learned that she gets treats only when we are done with everything and getting ready to go back out to pasture, so, smart old girl that she is, she doesn't even bother asking any more.
Nope. Horses around here are only fed in their stall's corner feeder. I never have a problem with muggers, or with getting a horse out of the field. There is always something in their feeder when they come in.
Last edited by Equibrit; Feb. 23, 2013 at 07:07 PM.
Mine gets one when I bring her in for work, when she standing quietly on her own b/f bridling (she knows that if she moves she won't get it: no mugging or even moving her feet) & when she gets turned out after a work session.
She does know that small people who visit get to give her treats, so any little kid that comes along gets her special attention. I guess that makes visiting kid feel good.
I used hand-fed treats intentionally to remind my (then new) mare that I'm not evil... I had accidentally static-shocked her muzzle and she became SUPER head-shy all of a sudden. Hand-fed her treats for awhile and that helped us bond and build trust.
My horses are expected to be polite and do NOT get treats for poor behavior. And I treat only outside of work times, selectively. I'm no Pez dispenser!
Depends on the horse for me.
My oldest is a "molester" for treats, so he often does not get hand-fed treats; just dropped into his feed bucket, except in special situations (e.g. vet visits and the like). My other two have better manners, so they get hand-fed.
I do with my horses. Why? Because they are mine, and neither of them are nippy or pushy, nor do they escalate the "treat searching." Some of the habits they have I'm sure would drive some people batty, but I don't mind, and I'm pretty much the only person that deals with them. And I like feeding them treats.
"On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."