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Doesn't understand treats...

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  • Doesn't understand treats...

    I'm hoping some of you may have ideas on how to teach a miniature horse that taking/eating a treat is okay. Our little guy was part of a seizure so his past is unknown, but most of the 100 animals seized were abused/neglected/malnourished in some form or other (news story here).

    I've tried all different kinds of treats (apples, carrots, horse treats, molasses and oats, etc) and have tried feeding them out of my hand, off the ground, in his food bucket, on top of his actual food. He just doesn't get it? He *does* eat his food (don't laugh - a tablespoon of beet pulp with a vitamin supplement).

    Yes, I realize horses don't "need" treats but I would like to start working with him on ground manners, lunging, etc and had hoped using treats in addition to positive reinforcement would help.

    TIA!
    "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

    Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue

  • #2
    Have you tried peppermints? I find that the whole crinkly-unwrapping part is very intriguing to horses, lol. Could you try showing the mini by feeding another horse next to him? Maybe if he watched another horse go through the awesome process that is eating treats, he might want to try?

    My pony was severely neglected, and peppermints were the first treat I could get him to eat. He did spit out the first couple, and then he had an "ah ha" moment and sucked on it for a little while, and then realized he could crunch them.

    You might just have to keep trying, and wait until he settled in and feels more comfortable...mine took quite a while to understand that the food and hay wasn't going to disappear, and that he could relax.
    "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."

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    • #3
      I had an old broodmare and former show horse that would NOT take any kind of a treat from a human hand. Sometimes she'd eat an apple, pear or carrot dropped in her fed bucket, but not usually. She was a perfectly sweet and normal horse in every other way.

      What I do is just drop small pieces of treats in feed buckets- eventually they try them. Or keep sticking a peppermint in a horse's mouth until they decide "Hey, this IS really good!"

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        GREAT idea on the peppermints! I have definitely not tried that. I did try pushing a baby carrot into his mouth and he just spit it out haha.

        I have tried feeding his buddy (my mare) treats next to him, in front of him, etc and he just walks away! He's been here for several months now so I am hoping he has settled in but perhaps with time he will be more trusting of new things

        Would you believe that the tiny pieces of carrots I added to his feed bucket were still there after he was done? I mean seriously....
        "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

        Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue

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        • #5
          Try alfalfa cubes/pellets, whatever size such is right for him?
          You can first add a few to his "grain" and then slowly hand feed them.

          Some complete pelleted feed with bigger pellets is also good for treats.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
            Try alfalfa cubes/pellets, whatever size such is right for him?
            You can first add a few to his "grain" and then slowly hand feed them.

            Some complete pelleted feed with bigger pellets is also good for treats.
            GENIUS! He loves the alfalfa pellets I was mixing with the beet pulp (until he got a little chunky). I can't believe I didn't think to use them as treats. Thank you!
            "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

            Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue

            Comment


            • #7
              Another trick is to offer your barn vacuum cleaner a very obvious smelly treat like peppermint or a fragrant apply, while standing close to the new guy. I've had them learn to stand for clippers that way, a treat should be way easier.
              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

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              • #8
                If it's been months, he may not figure it out. I've had several fosters show up who had no idea that an apple was edible - or a carrot - but they all had it down pat in the first week.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a horse that used to be REALLY picky about treats - and we finally found out that she would eat ANY kind of cereal. Frosted Miniwheats were her favorite, but froot loops, cheerios, quaker oat squares, etc - and they're great for treats becuase they are the right size and most horses looooove them!!
                  Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons: A Practical Training Manual for Instructors

                  Stop Wasting Hay and Extend Consumption Time With Round Bale Hay Nets!!

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                  • #10
                    One of mine started off like this - happy to report I managed to rehabilitate him!

                    The trick for him was lovely expensive carrots with the green tops. He actually started of eating the tops and eventually realized the attached carrot is worth it too!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Some just take awhile to figure our treats. I have a gelding that I've owned since he was 3 and know the previous owners and he couldn't figure out an apple until around 8-9. I wouldn't stress about it eventually he will find something he likes but the suggestions for peppermints and alfalfa cubes are excellent.

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                      • #12
                        I rehabed a horse once who started figuring out treats were great (and not poison)with granola bars. He loved them! And once he figured out stuff from my hands was usually better than what he wa eating, he started to accept more usual treat like apples and what not,
                        www.facebook.com/lusitanos4sale

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                        • #13
                          Wint-o-green lifesavers were a fave of my previously non-treat mare.

                          Sugar cubes too.

                          Bran muffins.

                          taking treats from hand can be more of a trust issue than a true "I hate treats" issue. Time.

                          My old gelding BuddyRoo was not a lovey horse at all when I first met him. He was 11, I was 6. I was DETERMINED to have a lovey pocket pony. Took probably 10 years. Seriously. He wasn't a mean horse, but the idea of anything outside of work and normal food was just beyond him. Summer grass by the handfuls, alfalfa cubes (the old kind--shiny and hard) were the ticket.

                          Good luck!
                          A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                          Might be a reason, never an excuse...

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                          • #14
                            So the horse does not "like" treats, but you want to teach the horse to eat stuff it does not like so that you can give that stuff to the horse as a reward for doing other stuff the horse doesn't like?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I got an ottb who still won't eat apples, carrots or peppermints, but loves those treats that are preformed little rolls. . . My husband (not a horse person) took it on as his personal mission after I gave up and had her eating them in about 2 weeks.

                              My current OTTB will eat anything, but his personal favorites are the granola bars. I keep them in my tack locker so that we can both have a snack!

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                              • #16
                                This may sound totally backwards but use a clicker.
                                Clicker, scritches good pony!!!!
                                Til clicker equals happy place
                                Then try clicker, cookie!!!!
                                And see what happens
                                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                chaque pas est fait ensemble

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Very very helpful suggestions everyone! Thank you so much. Ill go out tomorrow armed with granola bars, peppermints, cereal, carrots with green tops, alfalfa pellets, and lifesavers and see if we get lucky I knew y'all would have great ideas.
                                  "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

                                  Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                                    So the horse does not "like" treats, but you want to teach the horse to eat stuff it does not like so that you can give that stuff to the horse as a reward for doing other stuff the horse doesn't like?
                                    I'm sorry that you misunderstood my post - I re-read it and don't understand how you are so confused. I don't want to teach him to eat stuff he doesn't like, I want to teach him it is okay to take treats.

                                    Originally posted by Tom Bloomer View Post
                                    so that you can give that stuff to the horse as a reward for doing other stuff the horse doesn't like?
                                    Nowhere in my post do I imply he doesn't like getting attention or being worked with. He is the first one to the gate and loves attention and having a job. Hence the reason for trying to find a way to reward him
                                    "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

                                    Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                                      This may sound totally backwards but use a clicker.
                                      Clicker, scritches good pony!!!!
                                      Til clicker equals happy place
                                      Then try clicker, cookie!!!!
                                      And see what happens
                                      Now that is a really great idea.... hadn't even thought about clicker training!
                                      "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle" - Winston Churchill

                                      Check out Central Virginia Horse Rescue

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by OTTBcooper View Post
                                        I'm sorry that you misunderstood my post - I re-read it and don't understand how you are so confused. I don't want to teach him to eat stuff he doesn't like, I want to teach him it is okay to take treats.
                                        The social order of horses is a dominance hierarchy. The more dominant horses push the less dominant horses off of the choice feed/grazing areas. Therefore, if you use food (treats) as a reward, you are teaching the horse that it is OK to be aggressive and dominate YOU.

                                        When I encounter pushy nippy horses in my practice it is almost always the result of an owner feeding treats by hand. They have taught the horse that is is OK to dominate a human, that humans exist to provide treats, and when they do not provide said treats on demand, the horse will increase the stimulus to the owner - nip, shove with head, invade space.

                                        When the treats are removed from the environment or given in a way that does not involve the horse TAKING them from the owner (like put it in the feed tub before the horse is brought in for feeding) the pushy nippy aggression disappears because it is no longer being encouraged.

                                        Nowhere in my post do I imply he doesn't like getting attention or being worked with. He is the first one to the gate and loves attention and having a job. Hence the reason for trying to find a way to reward him
                                        Horsemanship is about getting horses to go places on command and execute movements on command that it would not normally do on their own. In classical horsemanship the reward is YOUR APPROVAL as the LEADER. Such approval is given by REMOVING the stimulus that is used to invoke the desired behavior.

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