How to Feed Horse Treats Without Forming Bad Habits

Posted by Jennifer Hojnacki, Wed, Aug 8, 2012

It’s so much fun to feed your horse treats! When you give your equine friend a treat, it tells them that they are loved and appreciated. Treats not only reward good behavior, but can be used effectively to teach your horse new skills. So, treat away, but keep in mind that when it comes to horse treats there are some basic do’s you’ll want to keep in mind to ensure healthy, happy treating.

Do make sure the treats are good for your horse. The treats must be healthful and formulated especially for them with the right ingredients that not only treat them well, but stimulate their overall health. Manna Pro® Apple Wafers are a horse favorite, along with Apple Nuggets, Flax Snax and Apple Blasts. You can also use apples, carrots, grain and hay—just make sure any fruits and veggies are cut up so they don’t pose a choking hazard. 

Do feed the right amount of treats. You don’t want to give so many treats that you upset your horse’s digestive system or teach them to beg for treats. After all, your time together is more than simply treat time. Make sure to spend bonding time with your horse and use treats to reward specific behaviors.

Do make certain your horse learns how to be respectful by taking the treat only when it is offered. Establish a treating ritual which teaches your horse that the treat is given only if their behavior warrants it. This means not just handing over the treat, but making sure that the horse’s behavior is respectful. One way to train them on good treating behavior is to stand with the treat, but then only pet and talk to your horse. After you’ve spent time together, ask your horse to walk away without giving them the treat. If they respect your commands, then after a minute call them back and offer them the treat. Make sure they eat it in way that’s polite; if they start to gulp down the treat, then stop and start the process over. This way they know the treat is a gift that is associated with respecting your commands rather than just given freely because they want it in that moment. (

Do keep the treat in your hand, not your pocket. Some horses will start to associate treats with pockets and nose into every pocket they see looking for something yummy to eat. Don’t train your horse to be rude by teaching them bad habits.

Treats are a wonderful way to bond with your horse, but be sure to stay in charge of the treating behavior. Your four-legged equine friend deserves your love, attention and even treats. Breed those good treating habits, and treating will be a…well, treat for both of you.