“Don’t Beg!”

The Scenario: One of my biggest pet peeves with horses is when they are pushy for treats.  If you enjoy hand feeding your horse, like I do, you want them to be polite because it can be dangerous to have a horse who turns into a bully when the treats come out.  When my horse, GQ, (who is spoiled rotten with cookies[!]) began exhibiting signs of bullying for treats, I knew I had to kick that habit before it got bad.

The Fix: I taught GQ “Don’t Beg.” This was actually a very simple fix that didn’t take more than a few minutes each day for about a week until he caught on.  I would hold a treat in my hand.  When he started pushing my hand or shoving me for the treat I would say “don’t beg” and wait for him to turn his head to the side. As soon as GQ turned his head, I would offer the treat. The key to this is that you are teaching the horse to not bully you for treats, so you are rewarding the behavior that is safe for both of you.  When you offer the treat, offer it at arms length away from yourself, which will help enforce that your horse should not expect to get treats if he is too close to you.
GQ has gotten so good with this action that he will actually use it to ask me for treats now.  Occassionally when I am grooming him, he will turn his head away from me and hold it there until he gets a reward (which I usually grant readily since I am a huge sucker for a cute face like his!)


2 responses

  1. Nice! It’s surprising how easy it is to fix things like this… and how many people never think to try. I lucked out with a horse who is just by nature very polite but we’ve had our moments of needing to reprogram some behaviors like this. Great blog, I’ll be “following” you too. 🙂

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