During the holidays, horse lovers tend to give treats to their horses and fellow riders as a way to spread holiday cheer. It’s an easy gift that everyone seems to enjoy and with new brands emerging in adorable packaging and flavors, it’s easy to see why they are such a hit in the equestrian community.
In our opinion, horse treats are a fantastic way to motivate horses and create positive reinforcement during training. There’s nothing better than a horse that loves to work for you and both treats and loving scratches are a great way to encourage your companion as you progress together.
However, we also know that negative behaviors can arise from giving treats to horses. Therefore, we came up with a few guiding principles to get the best out of our horses when engaging with them.
1. Know your horse Some horses have special conditions that make them sensitive to treats. By giving a horse with insulin resistance or other special conditions a treat (even including carrots) you can create an imbalance that could cause harm. Never feed a horse you don’t know or haven’t asked about first.
2. Avoid treating by handwhile on the ground We all forget this sometimes because they are so darn cute, but it’s amazing how quickly a horse can become pushy and even nippy after taking one too many treats by hand. Save rewards for good behaviors while riding or drop their treats in their stall buckets.
3. Identify what you are trying to accomplish Horses are smart and will start to anticipate when and how they will get treats. This can work for you or against you depending on how they are used. Are you trying to gain trust, teach new behaviors or create a boredom buster? Use filters like these to think about your approach when giving treats. You can give treats in several ways from feed buckets to adding them to treat dispensing toys.
4. Treats while riding We find that treats are a great way to motivate many types of horses when learning new things. The most important part of treating while riding is timing, so having them in your pocket and giving a treat immediately after the behavior takes place helps connect the dots. If you have a treat like Pocket Pony by Wet Noses, you can fit them in your pocket or break them up in smaller bites. Plus, they have no artificial colors or dyes (like some do), so you don’t have to worry about discoloration of the mouth in the show ring.
What makes Pocket Pony treats stand out against the competition is that they are healthy, all-organic and made from fresh, quality ingredients (like pumpkin or peppermint leaves) rather than the sugary additives and fillers that are common in treats. Pocket Pony treats are pocket-sized, won’t leave behind a sticky mess and are so delicious that they are even picky pony approved!