One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about using treats.
“Do you really use treats?”, “I heard treats are bad, what do you think about it?”, “I see you are using treats during your trainings, and yet your horses seem calm, how to achieve that?”, etc.
Why treats have so bad reputation in horsemanship world?
I already explained it in the previous article I wrote on this subject (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10206658938745071&set=t.1621160518&type=3&theater) that treats are only another tool, and the outcome of using a tool is not dependent on the tool itself, but is dependent on the person that is using the tool.
If you are really Calm, and your intentions are pure you can use all the tools and it will work well for you. If you are full of expectations, anxious, impatient, controlling or simply scared, no matter which tools you use, the outcome will bring only more fear and stress into your life.
This is a very simple truth based on OUR EVERYDAY EXPERIENCE.
You may think that this is some esoteric Blah-blah-blah, but in fact it is a very practical knowledge that we use every day.
If you decide to use treats, you also have to remember that treats reinforce not only the behaviour for which you give them, but also the whole emotional context of this situation. If you use clicker it is even stronger.
This can be very good for us, because we can treat our horse when he is Calm and relaxed and we enjoy more such moments in the future. Unfortunately, most of the people do not care enough about the Calmness and they treat their horses when they are excited, or even angry or scared.
If you treat your horse with apples or carrots, and you have to cut them into big slices, because your horse grabs them with his teeth; if you have to be extra careful for your hands and fingers when rewarding your horse, because he grabs the treats with his teeth or tensed mouth; if your horse storms to your pocket after each click and mug you; if your horse does what you ask him to do, but is tensed in all his body and mind in anticipation of the treat to come, and you can feel this tension in your stomach —
— It may mean that this is not a good idea to use the treats at this moment of your relation with your horse, and it may mean that you simply need more calmness as a base of your every day being together before you introduce the treats to your horse.
Our idea is to start this journey with teaching our students about Calmness and how to be truly calm and connected when by their horses with out Calming Technique. The next step is to introduce our students and their horses to our Don’t Do it Cue, about which you can read here: https://onehorselife.com/how-to-teach-your-horse-dont-do-it
We all know that horses are very sensitive to what we feel, and that is why we need to be very calm when we are with our horses especially if we want to use treats. What may be hidden on daily basis in the relationship between you and your horse, will simply come out in any emotional situation.