Hand-feeding treats to horses is a rather controversial subject.? While some horse owners have no difficulty with giving treats to their horses, others find themselves with pushy, nippy animals who become dangerous in their quest for snacks.? How do you safely feed treats to your horse without causing bad behaviour?? First and foremost, you need to know your horse.? Watch his behaviour carefully when you hand-feed treats, and be prepared to stop should you witness any behavioural changes, however slight.? Even calm and quiet horses can become food monsters when there are treats to be had, so consider the following safety tips before doling out the goodies:
- The safest way to feed treats is in a bucket.? Not only does it protect your fingers from any stray nips, but it will also prevent your horse from associating your hands with treats.
- Never feed treats in a situation where you have several loose horses around you.? You may think you are being sly, but the others will quickly figure out what is going on and you may wind up being crowded or even knocked over by the eager horses.
- Your horse will remember how you have fed him in the past.? I know one person who allowed the horses in the barn to help themselves to carrots that she had sticking out of the chest pockets on her coat.? Not surprisingly, the horses became nippy at people?s chests, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
- Be cautious of overfeeding.? A nice pat or rubdown is just as good a treat as a carrot stick.? You will want to avoid filling your horse?s stomach with sweet, sugary snacks, preventing him from eating the food his body really needs.?
Treats are definitely ok to give to horses, but as with anything, use common sense and moderation.