Horse owners (I call them horse trainers) who use food reinforcers are frequently confronted with a lot of misunderstanding about how treats or rewards can be effectively used as reinforcers. Some people don’t realize that you can use treats to your benefit: to help you train your horse.
I asked my Facebook friends to help me out with some common believes that live in the equine world about treats in training. Thank you all for helping me. I will quote the answers:
- Hand-feeding creates mugging horses
- Hand feeding makes them bite.
- That it instantly makes them fat.
- Hand feeding horses is bad because it turns them into monsters, they get rude, pushy and bite everyone.
- That’s bribing and horses do X only for treats but not out of respect towards the person treating them!
- They get Treat Crazy, and will not be able to think or focus on what they are doing.
- It will make your horse aggressive pushy and mouthy.
- Hand-feeding makes them spoiled and they will refuse to eat out of a bucket and you will have to exchange it for a gilded bowl.
- It makes them nippy, aggressive, pushy, space invading.
- You can only hand-feed your horse twice.
- They’ll kill you if you forget your treat bag once upon a time in the future.
- It’s unnatural (as opposed to using carrot sticks and spurs and what not), since horses don’t feed one another in reward for tasks.
- It’s super dangerous, for when done incorrectly it turns them into raging killing machines that can never be re-educated.
- Only hand-feed grain and hay but not treats because it will send the wrong message to the horse.
Let’s see how we can prevent these objections from happening.
In this blog I gave solutions for objections 1,2,4,7,9, and 13. In this blog I will debunk objection #3.
‘Using Treats In Training Makes Horses Fat’
This can happen, but it is easily preventable:
- You can use the horse’s normal dinner feed in training. You already know they love it! Then of course at dinner time you give less if your horse is prone to become overweight easily.
- Most horses like to work for simple hay cubes or timothy/alfalfa cubes
- You can make your own sugar-free treats which horses really love (at least all horses I trained all love them)
- You can even use handful of hay (in Winter) or grass (in Summer)
- Avoid high sugar treats like apples, carrots or store bought horse treats. They all contain lots of sugar.
- Try out other veggies or low sugar fruits like cucumber or celery
- Make sure the amount of reinforcers is in balance with the amount of exercise your horse gets.
If you want to learn more about using food to your benefit in training, sign up today for the next course Ultimate Horse Training Formula. One of the 8 modules will be about how to use food reinforcers best, the difference between ‘high value’ and ‘low value’ reinforcers and when to use which. You also learn how to fade out the reinforcer and keep the behaviour!
Stay tuned for my next blog. I will give solutions to objection #6 They get Treat Crazy, and will not be able to think or focus on what they are doing.
Safe the date: Thursday March 7, 2019 and join us!
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Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I always aim for win-win!
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