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Hand feeding treats - consensus?

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  • Hand feeding treats - consensus?

    Is this always a no go? I own what I will call a mugger - nose in pockets, lick you up and down for cookies gelding. Lately he has escalated a bit (surprise, surprise) so I stopped hand feeding treats completely for a few weeks - no change. Do you hand feed treats? Why or why not?

  • #2
    I have 16, mostly schoolies, a couple retirees, a couple hunt horses, and they all get hand fed treats. In fact, I have treats in the tackroom specifically for kids to feed before and after their lessons (and they learn how to do so safely, very important). Once shown how to feed safely, parents and siblings are welcome to feed treats to other horses over the pasture fence. If anyone gets at all muggy, they get the flick on their nose a time or two (literally index or middle finger flicking off of thumb. Right on the muzzle, this is quick, effective, doesn't create overreaction). I have never had to escalate to more than that, although if I did, my philosophy would be: How would the dominant horse react to being bitten? So I would come down pretty hard. I can appreciate some busy barns banning the practice, though. I just haven't had it be a problem.

    I can ride my horses without a sharps container.


    • #3
      My boys always get hand fed treats and neither bite.


      • #4
        No hand treats except in the in hand classes. I can't stand my horses being pushy. That's just my opinion and works for me.
        Come to the dark side, we have cookies


        • #5
          I hand feed treats a lot. I never treat a horse who is touching me or in my space. The behavior you reward gets repeated. I have no problems with mugging because mugging = no treats. The horses want their treats.


          • #6
            i feed treats too but insist on the finer points of manners so that it doesn't escalate to the nipping. What you describe as mugging and licking is pretty far up the escalation scale, in my book. My corrections would basically start at anything more serious than looking really, really earnestly at me.
            I define my personal space whereever i want it to be and they can't invade mine, period end of story. And when you're addressing it at that level, the correction needed is so minor, usually just "Quit" or "Backup" (the human equivalent to flicking an ear back), that you don't feel like a big meanie. After all feeding treats is meant to be fun and a bonding thing.


            • Original Poster

              Any correction such as a slap, poke, flick invites him to play right back at me. I've had him for a year and a half - he came to me this way - feedlot rescue that the rescue org that saved him earned his trust by hand feeding treats. I guess he had no idea what treats were when they got him in.


              • #8
                I had feed treats, but mugging is not allowed – she is taught to wait, and take them politely when offered.

                I also do “carrot stretches” each day with my horse – so she obviously gets those by hand.
                APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                • #9
                  I use treats with most horses, a few, not at all, at least not until I feel they have learned to respect human space very well and be patient.

                  Just had one such very sweet but clueless oaf of a horse and no, he was not getting any treats for a while.
                  He obviously had been fed treats before as bribes and was a bit pushy anyway.
                  He had a way to go to learn some good manners and treats were only going to make him frantic for more at first, so didn't want to go there.

                  Treats with horses that are pastured are very good to help keep them interested in you, as long as that is all they do, don't make pushy or anxious horses or have them competing for your treats.

                  I feed treats after they show being patient and feed them low, as I work to scratch their heads too, so that is also a training situation, where they learn humans touching them at any times can be expected and is part of feeling good about their world.


                  • #10
                    I hand feed treats all the time. I also use it when training. The first thing I taught my young stallion to do was to back up a step and then come forward for his treat. Now he makes me smile...when he knows I have treats for him....he backs up a step for me. He is very very sweet. When training with treats I am usually in my indoor and they are free. If they get pushy I just sent then on their way.


                    • #11
                      We hand treat all day, everyday, while working in harness, bridles on

                      Customers and kids love it, it's great for photo ops, creates goodwill with passer-by, helps to keep our horses friendly and interested in people; but most of all, it greatly increases the horses' enjoyment of their work shift. And it's satisfying for the driver to make his horse happy

                      We also have two special treat-givers:


                      Last edited by michaleenflynn; Feb. 22, 2013, 08:54 PM.
                      VP Horse & Carriage Association of NYC



                      • #12
                        I hand feed treats also, but like Ticker and Hippo, I insist the mares work for it first. I use clicker training to indicate the behavior I want (stay out of my space) and make sure that I am 110% consistent in the process.

                        "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                        - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


                        • #13
                          I hand feed treats to all my horses. One of my horses came to me quite rude about treats. I trained him he only got treats if he was looking away from me. Solved that problem. Even years later when I didn't worry about him anymore as he learned to be polite if he thought I had treats and didn't give it to him right away he would turn his head and look away


                          • #14
                            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.


                            • #15
                              I hand feed treats. Don't have any problems with pushy horses. Never really even considered the possibility that I might. I don't take much crap, though, when it comes to my space, so there's not a whole lot of opportunity to get mouthy.


                              • #16
                                For the mouthy horses the treats go in the bucket. For the ones with good manners, they may be hand fed, but in my laziness, I am finding that more and more often I just put them all in their buckets.
                                "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



                                • #17
                                  I've always fed treats by hand for my horses - never been an issue. If they get mouthy/pushy then they get into trouble (and mine always learn early on about manners and respect). I don't tolerate rude horses whatsoever and they know it. I will not hand-feed a horse who is not mine and is rude - I just have no patience for that kind of behavior.
                                  "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


                                  • #18
                                    Pushy horses, if they get treats, get them in their feed bucket. Occasionally, I'll hand feed a horse, but even the ones who're good usually just get them in the bucket.

                                    One place I worked, a couple of people would bribe the horses to behave with treats. The pushy, invasive 'mugger' behaviour was always getting rewarded. That drove me up the wall!


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by dmj View Post
                                      Any correction such as a slap, poke, flick invites him to play right back at me.
                                      Ha! I have one just like that. His name is Quanah, and he was taught to be such a nippy little pest that around the barn he was known as Quanah the Piranha. The people who taught him to bite did it with the best of intentions and the worst of timing, as follows:
                                      Pony nips.
                                      Human, startled, doesn't do anything for a second.
                                      Then human slaps pony with open hand while he's standing there not nipping.
                                      Pony thinks "Oh, goody! She wants me to nip more!"

                                      But I cured him by - hand-feeding treats!
                                      When he earned them. Here's how:
                                      Go out to pony with treats in an easily-defended pocket or container and a clicker.
                                      Completely ignore nosing, mugging, and any other behavior you don't like. (You may want to start on the other side of a stall guard. I just stood beside mine, but at first had to do some dancing and spinning to keep treats out of reach until the right time.
                                      When pony turns his head away from you - click and treat.
                                      Do this five minutes at a time as often as possible. I bet he'll start to catch on by the end of the first session, but continue for six or eight sessions to get him solid.
                                      After he's got that down, think of some more behaviors you can click and treat.
                                      But only give him treats when he earns them. Don't be a Pez dispenser!
                                      I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                                      • #20
                                        I have always hand fed and never had a problem. Just got a new 4 yr old filly who is oh so friendly, head in your lap wanting to be petted. She will walk up to anybody and want her face petted. She had not been handfed when I got her, in fact she'd never been fed treats at all. I thought I would try not hand feeding her, treats go in the bucket. Never had one this demanding of physical attention and don't want her to start wanting treats and getting nippy. So far so good, never looking for a treat, still just wanting to be petted. Its an individual thing.

                                        Hell hath no fury like the chestnut thoroughbred mare