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Using food in training is still a controversial topic in many horse training arenas.

Will giving treats cause my horse to become mouthy or pushy?

How do I start using food as a learning tool?

What kind of treats should I use?

Food is a powerful tool in training. We can use it to help shift associations with fearful objects or events and create real motivation for learning.

However, being effective with reward training and avoiding the pitfalls takes some knowledge and practice.

Hit play below to watch the video on how to use food to work with your own horse.

Here are additional resources about positive reinforcement training for your horse:

Teaching Good Manners Around Food Learn how to teach your horse to take food gently and patiently.

Is Positive Reinforcement More Effective? This study shows that while generally stress levels and speed of learning were similiar, horses being trained through positive reinforcement showed more investigative behavior.

Does Hand Feeding Cause Biting? In this study, researchers looked for associations between common “mugging” behaviors and hand feeding horses.

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9 Responses

  1. Clicker and treat training has really worked with my horse. She’s pretty passive aggressive, and considers it a badge of honor to ignore any negative reinforcement, but is very food motivated.

  2. The velcro on my treat pouch has become my marker! I use Hearts for Horses peppermint & molasses treats for rewards. I can easily break each into about 9 smaller pieces plus the peppermint that is in the center. (Just an FYI, these all natural treats help support rescued horses. They have several choices of flavor.)
    Anyway, Wildfire used to be pushy about her rewards until I put into practice what I learned from Callie’s video on food manners. Now if she even thinks about getting pushy I just say “mind you manners” and she knows exactly what I mean and turns her head forward and waits patiently.
    I have been able to teach her so much by taking advantage of the fact that she is very food motivated. I used to feel like I was cheating using treats to “bribe” her. But after watching Callie’s videos and realizing how much I have been able to teach her using this form of positive reinforcement, I don’t feel that way anymore. Thanks again Callie for sharing all your practical wisdom with us.

  3. Callie,Thank you so much for all the great educational and well done videos you have so generously provided us. They are short and to the point. Your horse’s demeanor, as you teach, shows that this training really works. As they stand, during the lesson, they are listening to your every word. You are a great teacher!

  4. I particularly liked your segment on teaching our horses bad habits by accident. It’s something I’ll attempt to remember whenever I’m with mine. You really are a fabulous, fabulous teacher, Callie.

  5. Thank you, Callie…you are a fantastic teacher. Clicker training is not only a fun way of training one’s horse, it’s great medicine for the handler, too.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

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