Part 3 - Ground Activities You Might Be Doing With Your Horse That Can Create Aggressive Behavior and a Loss of Control From the Saddle

Mar 09, 2021

Grabbing Or Begging For Treats

When a foal is born the first lesson he learns from his mother is when to eat and when not to eat. Horses use food to develop relationships. They use it to establish friendships and pecking order rights. Bonding over sharing food and learning how to graze together leads to the unification of the herd. In actuality, horses see all interactions as social events, and these events take place around food. In the Resnick Method, we work with the horse’s natural instincts and communicate with him in his own language. Horses use food to establish themselves in the pecking order and we are doing the same thing.  

It is acceptable to use treats at the beginning of horse training, but as you go along, the treats could become a handicap if you do not understand how to use them. Try not to use anything that will over-excite your horse. The manner in which your horse receives a treat is very important to avoid food dominance behavior and aggressive begging for treats. You want your horse to use soft lips rather than grabbing the treat and biting your hand.

When a horse tries to grab a treat from your hand, and you let him, the horse will become impatient and it can lead to biting and nipping. You want to avoid this unwanted behavior by not giving a horse treats if your horse shows impatience. To remove the impatience, begging, and nipping, only give your horse a treat when he is looking away, relaxed, and will not reach out to get the treat. When you bring the treat out, hand it to him by offering it under his mouth so he doesn’t see it coming, this will prevent the horse from getting in the habit of being impatient.

If your horse is a greedy feeder, he may come to you and challenge you for treats. Thus, from the beginning of the Waterhole Rituals™ program, you are extensively taught how to Introduce Food to a horse. It is important to teach horses to behave respectfully around food. The end result is that your horse will have more respect for you through the proper use of food. It is your choice concerning whether or not to use treats. Your focus is first and foremost on your relationship with your horse.

May the spirit of the horse be with you!

Carolyn Resnick

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