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Pushy For Treats

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:53 am    Post subject: Pushy For Treats Reply with quote

Hey galadriel,

I was wondering if you could give me a bit of advice at all with Boomer's ground manners. He's a very well mannered boy, though when it comes to feeding him treats he can get really pushy.

For the most part I brush and tack Boomer in his stall, just because we only have two sets of cross-ties that are always occupied. I'll give him an apple or carrot when I arrive, though when I try grooming him afterwards he'll start searching my jacket pockets, or push me away with his face, etc. He's gone for my ponytail a couple times (Maybe he thought it was hay? Shocked ) and even licks my jacket until it's soaking wet. I don't know if this is normal horse behavior, or what's going on!
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Joined: 21 Sep 2003
Posts: 2
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whoops, forgot to sign in! That's really my post up there.. Not "guest". :p
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Site Admin

Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 113
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey epcd3000!

Oh, boy. Mugging you is very, very bad manners, even though it seems
sweet when he's nosing you. Any time he invades your space without
invitation, it's a minor expression of dominance. Sticking his nose all
over you is definitely in that category, even if he's just looking for
goodies. It's not a major transgression, but permitting it almost
certainly leads to more such acts on his part.

Any treat given in response to such mouthiness also encourages the
behavior in the future, so it's best to be sure that you *never*
accidentally reinforce the mouthing. If he's mouthing you, make him
stop. Verbal correction, loud noise, push his head away, etc. If you're
going to push his head away, make sure it's not a sudden movement or a
hard push; just put your hand on his big cheekbone, or beside his
muzzle, and push until his head is pointing away from you.

Don't smack him, incidentally, though I think you probably wouldn't,
epcd3000 Smile Smacking a horse around the head invites either headshyness or
making a game out of it; the I-mouth-you, you-smack-me game. Any horse
who reaches out to bite you then yanks head away before you even move,
is trying this game.

With a horse who gets mouthy about treats, I tend to stop hand feeding
treats. Period. No more treats coming from hands, pockets, etc. You can
still give treats; you just have to make sure that the treats are never
associated with your body. A good way to do this is to feed from a
bucket. You'll also need to store the treats somewhere else so you don't
ever take them out of your pocket to put them in a bucket.

If you keep his head away from you and feed treats only from a bucket,
he'll eventually stop associating your body with treats. This is a
lesson horse, right? You won't be the only one handling him, so it'll
take longer, but eventually he'll learn to respect YOUR space, if not
everyone else's. You'll know he's starting to catch on when he nuzzles
the bucket instead of you. (It also rather reduces the glamour of having him nuzzle you
instead, when you see that he was only looking for treats Sad)

If you are the only one handling a horse, you can slowly re-introduce
hand-feeding after the horse learns not to mug you. What I do is push
the horse's head away, then give the treat. The horse will learn to pull
his head away from your body when asking for a treat, instead of mugging

I think that may be a bit complicated for a horse who's being handled by
multiple people, though; it would probably be hard for him to learn and
for you to enforce while handling him.

It's so tempting to give a treat to a horse who's nuzzling you and being
cute. The important thing to remember is that, from the horse's point of
view, it is not a cute appeal. It is an act of dominance and a behavior
that should be discouraged.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome, thanks! Boomer is a retired lesson horse.. He has still a couple people not including me riding him though. I'm going for my lesson tomorrow, so I'll try some of your suggestions on him! Very Happy
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Site Admin

Joined: 20 Sep 2003
Posts: 113
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good luck! Remember that you're trying to correct an ingrained habit; like any habit, it will take some time for him to learn to change.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey - Its alwaysfallingoff from NR. Just having a look around and wanted to say thank you for yet more help on how to teach max some manners Very Happy Very Happy (its quite embarrasing, it seems like every problem anyone mentions can be related to him in some way Embarassed )
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