Should You Feed Your Horse Treats?

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Feeding your horse treats is a huge debate in the industry. Some swear it makes their horse pushy and disrespectful, while others use them in training and as rewards. Another factor to consider is the nutritional value of the treat. Ultimately, you’ll need to evaluate the pros and cons to determine what’s best for you and your horse.

Feeding Treats

Pros

  • They can motivate the horse into doing something you want.
  • Treats can be used as a reward after a desirable behavior is performed.
  • They can keep your training sessions exciting and fun for your horse.
  • For horses that are reserved or uninterested in people, they can encourage them to come over and connect with their handler.

Cons

  • Some horses may become nippy when they are hand fed.
  • You run the risk of your horse becoming pushy and disrespectful. They may crowd you or constantly look for treats.
  • Many treats have too much sugar and are not healthy when fed in large amounts. This is especially true for obese horses or those prone to founder.
  • They can get expensive depending on how often you use them and how many horses you have.

Warwick Schiller touches on the subject. He doesn’t use treats for all horses, but has had some success with them in certain situations.

Some trainers and riders will want to use them with select horses like Warwick does. Others will have a strict yes or no policy when it comes to feeding treats. You’ll have to determine what’s best for your barn.

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