Basic Feeding Of Horses – Treats

Most treats fed to horses are not only filled with inflammatory ingredients but are fed for the wrong reason.

Many mixed treats are made with grains and grain byproducts.  Some have added minerals, vitamins, “essential” ingredients that are not really essential or preservatives, colorings and flavorings.  These treats are developed to trick owners into believing that giving them to horses will not only reward them but will be beneficial.

Other treats include fruits, apples, bananas), root vegetables (carrots), candies (peppermints) and sugar cubes.  I’m OK with fruits when fed in season and freshly picked from their source but otherwise, sugary treats have only one purpose – to add body fat.  Remember that all sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup and ripe fruit are fructose bombs which are detrimental to their health when fed daily throughout life.

The other reason treats are fed is because of the belief that in feeding them, the horses will believe that you love them.

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Most treats fed to horses are not only filled with inflammatory ingredients but are fed for the wrong reason.

Many mixed treats are made with grains and grain byproducts.  Some have added minerals, vitamins, “essential” ingredients that are not really essential or preservatives, colorings and flavorings.  These treats are developed to trick owners into believing that giving them to horses will not only reward them but will be beneficial.

Other treats include fruits, apples, bananas), root vegetables (carrots), candies (peppermints) and sugar cubes.  I’m OK with fruits when fed in season and freshly picked from their source but otherwise, sugary treats have only one purpose – to add body fat.  Remember that all sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup and ripe fruit are fructose bombs which are detrimental to their health when fed daily throughout life.

The other reason treats are fed is because of the belief that in feeding them, the horses will believe that you love them.  Worse, treats are fed when bad behavior is exhibited thus the treat rewards this bad behavior and enforces it.  Never reward bad behavior.  This is seen in human behavior all the time and is based on an insecure feeling of the person rewarding.  We all want to be loved but getting love through giving a sweet reward at the inappropriate time will only get us 1) bought compliance rather willing cooperation and 2) more bad behavior.

The BEST treat is to measure out the spoken words “Thank you!” said with sincerity and given when earned.  If a core belief in you to give a food reward is hard to overcome then offer 1 or 2 peanuts in the shell.  “Working for peanuts,” in this case, is appropriate as peanuts are legumes like alfalfa and soybeans and are a perfect food source especially for metabolic horses trying to lose body fat.  Try roasted and salted or unsalted or unroasted to determine what your horse likes.  Feed only 1 or 2 at a time and never more.  They do not freeze but keep them in a water proof container to prevent mold.

Treat horses when earned with willing behavior and not just for existing in your life.  Behavior that is expected such as standing quiet in cross ties or for the farrier should be rewarded with only a “Thank you” as your mother did when you did something right for the first time.  In fact, saying nothing at all is often the BEST reward especially when a behavior is expected.  In training a horse to a new behavior, offering a treat beyond a “Thank you” can be done with a peanut given when the horse associates that treat and the associated “Thank you” and sincere joy you exhibit.

This concept also works with humans such as children and spouses.  Try it though a “Thank you” said while looking into their eyes is better than a peanut.

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