New Year, New Resolutions, Treat Free Training

It’s a New Year and a time to get our horses and selves into shape for our next year of riding. It’s time to rethink our training strategies, and how we can improve them over the next year. Most resolutions at this time, revolve around humans wanting to lose weight and get into shape. Our equine buddies could use a little fine tuning too.

I have to say, I never ever use treats to train or reward horses.

Horses can get extremely fixated on food. I don’t want to win a horses trust or affection through food. I want to win a horse with my personality. We live in a society that is riddled with obesity, we are bombarded by junk food everywhere. Food is often associated with love. Food is just what it is, food. Love shows through in our actions. I would prefer a horse that wants to work for a pat on the neck and is not looking for a sugary treat.

If you give a horse a treat each time after he is ridden, he will want to end that riding session as quick as possible to get his snack. He won’t want to focus, because he wants to eat. If you spend the ride focused and communicating effectively with the horse, he will instead be waiting for the training session to begin!

Hand feeding horses can also encourage the horse to bully a human to find food, and possibly lead to biting. Some horses are worse than others, but why take a chance?

I am not big on commercial horse treats. In such a time as this, man has begun to process food so that it no longer resembles food. I prefer the horse to have organic food in its natural state.

If you want to feed a horse extra curricular snacks, stick to organic apples, grasses or carrots in his feed dish, without the snacks being related to your riding session. I have heard of horses being fed bologna sandwiches, Oreo Cookies, and all kinds of disgusting stuff. I would never even put that stuff into my own body let alone feed that to a horse with a herbivore digestive system!

I highly doubt in the wild horses would be exposed to sugar, cooked and processed foods, so keep that in mind when feeding any snacks. I may sound obnoxious to some, but food can be medicine or poison in humans and animals. My own health and nutrition consumes my life, I can’t help it spilling over to the animals. To ride your best and be able to ride your beloved horse long into your and his future, eat and feed natural. Love yourself and your animals…

Happy New Year!



About Deanna Castro

Deanna Castro has been training horses and riders professionally for over 18 years. She trains riders in Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Showmanship and Trail Riding. Deanna is married to Native American Horse Trainer Fredi Castro and she is the author of "Six Weeks to a Better Horse".
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2 Responses to New Year, New Resolutions, Treat Free Training

  1. photogchic says:

    I like giving baby carrots. I usually put them on the ground or on something and point to it for them to find. I used “treating” when I did some clicker training. My main treat in the summer is to take them out grazing on the lawn and I just scratch their necks. They like that. My trainer feels the same way you do about treats, but I enjoy giving them here and there and usually never give them by hand. I can’t imagine giving a horse a bolonga sandwich—ich!

  2. Deanna says:

    Hi photogchic.

    I was mortified when I found out about the bologna sandwich!

    If you enjoy giving carrots that are not hand fed, then there is no harm in feeding them. Horses are all about making us happy, and keeping them safe.

    Hope you had a great holiday.


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