Treats Should be a Surprise

One of the most important rules of feeding treats to your horse is that you should never give a horse a treat when he’s expecting it.

Whenever I give one of my horses a treat, I want it to be a surprise. I want him to think, “OMG! For ME?” Most people are very predictable about giving treats. They give them at the same time every day and the horse comes to expect them. Once the horse starts expecting them, he’ll usually start exhibiting pushy behavior to demand the treats, such as pushing into you, biting, being mouthy, etc. So at that point, the whole concept of the treat has been lost.

If one of our horses is looking for a treat, even a little bit, he doesn’t get one. Marty, one of our horses at the ranch, is a very personable and mouthy horse by nature. Most of the time, we’re only able to give him one treat a week because it takes that long to get it completely off his mind. If we gave him a treat every day or more than once a day, he’d practically maul us looking for it. On the other hand, we could give Diez a dozen treats a day without him expecting them because he doesn’t go looking for treats. Each horse is going to be different.

About Clinton Anderson
Born and raised in Australia, Clinton grew up with a love of horses. Although he lived in the city with his father, Rob, mother, Cheryl, and sister, Andrea, he looked forward to the weekends he got to spend on his grandparent’s farm where his grandmother would give him rides on her old Thoroughbred mare. By the age of 12, he began playing polocrosse and was eventually chosen for a national team representing his state.
In 2001, he became the first clinician to create a made-for-TV horse training program that aired on RFD-TV. The use of untrained horses and a variety of topics covering common problems faced by horse owners quickly made Downunder Horsemanship the network’s number one equine program. Nearly 15 years after establishing Downunder Horsemanship, Clinton continues to instruct horsemanship clinics, presents Walkabout Tours across the country, produces two television shows, hosts an internet TV website and is constantly creating comprehensive study kits and training tools to make learning horsemanship as accessible and easy as possible. Clinton and Downunder Horsemanship are recognized as world leaders in the equestrian industry and continue to offer the very best in innovation, inspiration and instruction.