Consistency Counts

…you feed him, hand feeding treats, letting him rip away from the halter when you turn him loose, stepping back when he moves into you. Being the leader to your horse is a full-time job.

Without question, horses will make us better at being humans, if we rise to…

Julie petting Pepper's neck

Does My Horse Like Me?

treats as a bribe), I will slowly approach the horse, displaying the most non-threatening posture I can—eyes averted, shoulders rounded, feet moving slowly, approaching the shoulder not the head. If the horse moves away, I follow, being careful not to increase the pressure (speed up or look more assertive) but…

Julie and Annie Assessing Saddle Fit

Saddle Fit Do-Over

…and lameness specialist, who treats world champion horses for lameness and structural unsoundness—including the spine.

I was tremendously relieved when Dr. Potter found no signs of soreness or abnormalities in Annie’s back, giving me confidence that her spine is strong and healthy. Still, I knew that my saddle…

What’s LOVE Got To Do With It?

…and truly understand the horse’s point of view. Sometimes what people think is expressing love to a horse, is actually counterproductive and ends up with angst and animosity.

For instance, if you are in the habit of hand-feeding treats to your horse every time you arrive at the barn,…

Closeup of Truth's face

July 2021 Horse Report

…of attention from kids, lots of treats, and sleeping on a comfy bed. I was proud of Pepper’s willingness to leave the barnyard—in the dark and by himself. He proved himself a reliable first mate!

My lovely QH mare, Annie, is also doing well. Without much pressure on her…

How Horses Learn to “Read” Humans

…have deep pockets (full of treats).

During this time, the horse is analyzing your emotionality, your confidence level (body language), your authority, your boundaries, and most of all—your leadership potential. He’s seeking a calm and benevolent authority to partner with, who is emotionally stable, gives clear directives, rewards effort,…

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Building A Better Relationship: Pawing

…fact that you give him treats at all is a big cause. He has learned to associate you with a handout and when he sees you he is very anxious to receive his treat (the feeding of treats erodes your leadership over the horse). I would suggest that you not…

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Issues From The Ground: Trick Or Treat?

Question Category: Issues from the Ground

Question: Why shouldn’t I give my horse hand-fed treats?

Answer: Training Tips: Trick or Treat? By Julie Goodnight

Ground manners are critical in a horse of any age, for they indicate the horse’s respect for its handler. Many very capable

Abby on Skippy with Julie standing beside them.

Becoming The Leader

…harder, but with persistence. Eventually, the horse will learn that the only way to make that annoying action go away is to move forward.

Treats Versus Training

A couple of more thoughts, if you or your daughter feed treats to this horse, stop immediately. Chances are, the horse…

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Horse Behavior: Nipping Colt

…themselves by allowing horses to be in their space and by nuzzling, smooching and playing with the horse’s muzzle all the time. Another common action that leads to nipping/biting is when you hand feed treats to horses. In the herd setting, there is a “linear hierarchy” which means that each…

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Teaching Babies Not To Bite

…muzzle all the time, the horse begins to think that the lipping behavior is acceptable and continues. Another common action that leads to nipping/biting is when you hand feed treats to horses. In the herd setting, there is a “linear hierarchy” which means that each and every individual of the…

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No Biting Allowed

…my experience that people bring these behaviors on themselves by allowing horses to be in their space and by nuzzling, smooching and playing with the horse’s muzzle all the time. Another common action that leads to nipping/biting is when you hand feed treats to horses. In the herd setting, there…

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Issues From The Ground: Clipping Ears

…drops his head, relaxes and accepts the clippers; and gradually lengthen the time between treats. And be sure to read on my website about the downside of giving treats.

Be sure to check out other articles in my Training Library on desensitizing and don’t get in too big a…

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Building A Better Relationship: Ground Manners For Showmanship

…tends to take control, by pushing you around or moving into your space, it may be an indication that the leadership position is not clearly defined within your herd of two.

Giving hand fed treats to horses is one of the quickest ways I know of to erode your…

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Becoming The Leader

…the only way to make that annoying action go away is to move forward. A couple of more thoughts, if you or your daughter feed treats to this horse, stop immediately. Chances are, the horse has become demanding and rude and this has contributed to his dominance. When horses are…

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Overcoming Fear: Instilling Confidence In Young Riders

…the horse goes. Not necessarily harder and harder, but with persistence. Eventually, the horse will learn that the only way to make that annoying action go away is to move forward.

A couple of more thoughts, if you or your daughter feed treats to this horse, stop immediately….

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Feed-Time Aggression Q & A

…dominant over you? Hand feeding treats can lead to the horse thinking he is in charge and allowed to take food from your hand. He also learns that by pushing into you he can control where you stand and where you’ll go. Sometimes horses develop food aggression just because their…

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Horse Behavior: Dealing With A Blind Horse

…out of the question? I must admit, he is one of those pesky critters that frisks you for treats. He will push the envelope until he senses that I’ve reached my limit, then back off for awhile. I have always figured that I was about a half step up on…

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The Dish On Discipline

…that you are a firm leader (not rough, but worthy of respect) and he’ll soon be requesting your acceptance and working hard for you.

If you try to start a new relationship by pampering and giving treats, that goes against everything he knows in the herd. He won’t seek…

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Fix A Grass Grabber

Does your gelding step off without a cue as soon as you mount up? Does he paw and beg for food or treats when you get back to the barn? You’ll need to address all aspects of your relationship to make sure you’re firmly in charge.

When it

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Ground-Work Exercises

…see him at feeding time, or when you step in to rub on him and bring him treats,” says Goodnight.

“It’s not that you’re never going to hug on your horse or love on him, but respect has to come first. Think about how you’re interacting with him every…

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Winter Workouts – Ride Right With Julie Goodnight

…in the winter, you only see your horse at feeding time –or when you step in to rub on him and bring him treats— and he’s otherwise turned out with buddies, you may be undermining instead of boosting your leadership,” says top trainer/clinician Julie Goodnight. “It’s not that you’re never…

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Hard To Catch

…problems are actually human problems.

Have you dealt with a hard-to-catch horse before? Did he have you trained to play his gamechasing him around like a puppet or bribing him with treats, only to have him take the prize and run off with his tail up in the air?

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5-Pound Challenge– Back by Popular Demand!

…not extend this health kick to your horse? As Lucy is fond of saying, if someone would just lock us in a stall and cut our rations in half, weight loss would be easy! But maybe you need to cut back on the sugary treats you give; change from alfalfa…

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Issues From The Saddle: Fear Of Riding And Inappropriate Horses

…wrinkles his nose. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to get him to stand still when I mount. I do give him treats before I ride, but only in his bucket in his stall. Thank you for any help you can give me. I don’t want this to happen again….

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Issues From The Saddle: How To Deal With A Spooky Horse

…space and an indication that the horse does not respect your space (often because he has been hand fed treats and this has caused major disrespect, see the article on my website called “Trick or Treat”). So when he moves his nose toward me that is a greater infraction than…

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Issues From The Ground: Biting In Showmanship Class

…you set this clear rule and enforce it 100% of the time, in very short order, your horse will know his manners.

4) Make sure that you are not encouraging biting in other areas by hand feeding treats or letting your horse move into your space. Make sure you…

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Building A Better Relationship: My New Horse Is Challenging Me

…get your horse through it, but avoid asking your horse to do something if you cannot reinforce it.

Also, analyze all of your interactions with your horse and discover the little things that are eroding your authority with your horse. Are you hand feeding treats to him? Are you…

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Horse Behavior: Aggression At Feeding Time

…when he is displaying aggressive behavior. In the horse’s mind, he thinks he took the food away from you and therefore you must be subordinant. Along the same lines, this can also occur when horses are hand fed treats; there are several articles on my website about the problems with…

Begging for Acceptance

…into the horse’s space, fawning and petting him, kissing him on the nose and stuffing treats in his mouth. Tears of joy were running down her cheeks; she was falling desperately in love with this horse she’d only just met. Sound familiar?

Life in the Herd Now let’s consider…

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Issues From The Saddle: Distracted Herd-Bound Horse

…ignore your cues? Does he go exactly where you point him and maintain a steady speed that you dictate when you are riding? Has he trained you to feed him treats? If you examine it closely, you’ll probably find some holes in your authority that are not instilling confidence in…

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Why Are Horses So Spooky?

…be the dominant member, the alpha individual, the “boss mare.” You must earn this respect, admiration and obedience by controlling the space of your horse and the “resources” of your herd (if your horse is frisking you for treats, HE is controlling the resources).

The first step in controlling…

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Building A Better Relationship: My horse Takes Advantage Of Me

…and your horse, I think you need to really concentrate on every aspect of your relationship with him. Are you babying him too much and giving him treats? Are you sometimes compromising with him (“oh well, I guess you don’t really have to do that right now”)? How are his…

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Horse Behavior: Understanding Horse Behavior

…by controlling the space of your horse and the “resources” of your herd (if your horse is frisking you for treats, HE is controlling the resources).

The first step in controlling your horse’s movement is to control your own body language. Your horse will notice your posture, eye contact,…

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Differences Between Horse Training and Dog Training

…and always controls the space of the subordinates (by backing them off and herding them around). If a horse ever comes to believe he is taking away food from you (because you hand-feed him treats or you allow him to rip the feed out of your hands when you bring…

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My Horse Is Herd-Bound And Barn Sour

…the food away from you and controlling your actions, he believes he is dominant. For this reason, I’m not an advocate of hand-feeding treats to horses; it doesn’t take long before he’s calling you to him by nickering (the second of the horse’s four audible communications), controlling your actions and…

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Feeding Frenzy

…you and therefore you must be subordinate. (Tip: this is why hand feeding treats isn’t a good idea. See Communicating Clearly with Julie Goodnight “Paw Power” in the previous issue.)

At my ranch, the feeders are under strict orders not to feed any horse that is displaying aggressive or…

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Building A Better Relationship: Will Groundwork Help My Spooky Horse?

…could be something as simple as letting him walk off without a cue or hand feeding him treats. Look for any ways that the horse might be controlling your actions (like crowding you then making you step back) or things that you are condoning but shouldn’t be (like asking him…