The equestrian lifestyle community.

Back to feed

My horse pretends to be afraid of everything just because he knows that I will bribe him with treats. How do I fix this?

My horse pretends to be afraid of everything just because he knows that I will bribe him with treats. How do I fix this?
Stop bribing him with treats. Try encouraging him with your voice and seat. And when he does stop being afraid reward him.
@kristelniro that's not very fair. The logic is sound enough, just the technique isn't. Using feed to make a horse more comfortable in a trailer/box works, using feed to coax a horse over the muddy part of the field works, using feed to distract a horse from clippers etc works. That is because when a horse is eating, it tricks the brain into believing it's safe.

A horse will not eat when it's in danger. The sympathetic nervous system (that controls fight or flight) shuts down the digestive system. Sometimes this can be overcome with a high value food reward, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to come into play, calming the horse down.

Like all good training though, it's about balance. The OP has over shot the balance on it, although treats as opposed to hay or concentrates are not particularly effective as they don't last long. That's okay though, she realises this which is why she is here asking for advice. We all make mistakes, we never stop learning in the horse industry. The difference between ignorance and stupidity is you can fix ignorance with knowledge. It's great that she's willing and open to learn. Telling her what she is doing is stupid, without offering any practical, non-judgemental advice on how to fix it is a bit pointless.
Stop bribing him with treats that's stupid. Horses don't work like that
Thank you so much! I will definitely try to get him to be more confident in himself!
Bribing a horse with treats does not make him more confident. If your horse looks afraid, that's because he is afraid and treats will not help. So this is about how to help him build confidence. Confidence in his surroundings, confidence in you so he can find confidence in himself.
Thanks so much for all the input, but I mean I am on the ground and he just stands still.
He is completely taking advantage of you. If you're not confident dealing with him, I would strongly recommend giving him to a more experienced rider for a while to prevent this becoming a bad habit (or a dangerous one if he's going to rear). When the more experienced rider has taken his out a few times, start going to places the horse spooks with the rider so they can give you tips and pointers on what they found works for the horse.
Hi Anna
Horses pick up feelings so he will know you are scared and take advantage of that don’t bribe him either just stop giving him treats and if he spooks ignore it and just continue riding forward
Hope this helps
The thing is he’s a huge thoroughbred and if he decides he doesn’t want to move he doesn’t move. Also I’m really scared to pull on his face because he has reared at me before. But thank you so so much for your help!
Don't bribe him with treats or let him stop and look at what ever is scary as you are rewarding him for spooking. Instead ignore his spook and continue on he will eventually learn that he dosen't get anything for spooking and will eventually stop.