Updated: Mar 12
How many times have you heard “Don’t give your horse treats they will turn into Horse Cookie Monsters”?!
And yes, this can happen if you are giving them incorrectly, but if done Correctly it can be quite rewarding (positive reinforcement) for your horse and encourage good behavior.
1. Do – Have a special treat bag that only holds horse treats. This bag tells the horse game on, treats are coming. Recommendation below.
2. Don’t – Give a horse treats that is reaching for them. Hold onto the treat until your horse turns its head, yes this works! Hold your hand palm down and when your horse turns its head turn your hand over and open it.
3. Do – Give a horse a treat after doing something great! Try and make it very soon, within 3 seconds the horse will know why they got the treat. This is where clicker training can come in, below I have recommended books.
4. Don’t – Ever keep treats in your pockets. This can create a horse constantly searching, the smell will always be on there until you wash it.
5. Do – Keep treats healthy for the horse. Treat recommendations below.
6. Don’t – Give treats when the horse does an undesirable behavior. This is much more difficult than it seems.
7. Do – If you’re clicker training place a marker on your treat bag. I use a bright colored green bandana. When we are simply doing positive reinforcement, rewarding for good behavior), I take the bandana off which is a signal.
8. Don’t – Turn into a treat vending machine for your horse.
9. Do – Give treats on the ground (or in a bucket, on a mat ) when not doing clicker training. This differentiates between actually “training” and just rewarding for good behavior.
10. Don't – Ask for too much or rush the horse. Take it slow, if you think you're going too slow, go slower.
Recommended Treat bag: Pet Safe Treat Bag. This bag has a locking system that will either stay open or closed, comes in really handy.
Recommended Treats: This is a tricky one. Depending on your horse depends on what kind of treats. Some horses cannot have sugar, grain or soy. Please keep this in mind. Some horses are overweight, therefore low-carb, low-sugar should be an option. I have a horse with a muscle disease and she does better with high fat, for instance, I give her unsalted peanuts in the shell, sunflower seeds, Haystack Wildberry (not a whole lot of these due to her condition). My other horse can have just about any treats within reason, Carrots, sweet potatoes, apples and my recommendations below.
A to Z Horse Treats These are some great all around treats low-sugar and low-carb and the owners are really nice too! Shhhhh! these tasty to humans!
A SOFTER COOKIE
THE FINEST HUMAN GRADE INGREDIENTS
Haystack Wildberry Horse Treats I've been using these treats for years and both I and my horses love them!
Low-Sugar Horse Treats
Sun-Cured Alfalfa Hay
Cranberries & Berry Flavoring
Tasty and Healthy
Low Sugar – Max 12% NSC (WSC + Starch)
The Art and Science of Clicker Training for Horses: A Positive Approach to Training Equines and Understanding Them Even if your not actually clicker training this is a great book for positive reinforcement and truly understanding horses. It doesn't get any better than trainer Ben Hart!
The Click That Teaches: A Step-By-Step Guide in Pictures Revised Edition I just love this book, I keep in my tack closet and refer to it all the time. I'll be in her class March 2020 and I can't wait! I've had to reschedule for all sorts of reasons for the past 3 years.