One viewer from Sweden wrote in to H&C to ask Kelly Marks for some advice: "Hello H&C, I have watched the videos by Kelly Marks called Horsemanship Essentials, and I am hooked. I do have a question, however, regarding food - why should you not give your horse a treat? Should we not feed them as a reward? I'm confused and would really appreciate an answer as I can’t stop thinking about it. If I bring a horse in from the field, is it ok to give him a carrot - in a bucket on the ground - after I have caught him? Marianne"
Kelly Marks from Horsemanship Essentials replies:
I think you must come over and attend one of my Horse Psychology courses! I guarantee you would enjoy your time very much. The advice is not actually 'We should never feed horses as a reward' - it's we should be extremely careful about ever feeding directly from our hands, and we must never, ever give horses the idea we are some kind of vending machine that they push and we automatically dole out treats to them.
Doling out 'treats' from your body can cause 'mugging', barging, biting and frustration for horse. However, sensibly used, the use of feed can provide you with many advantages in your work with horses.
For instance, as you say, giving him a carrot in a bucket after you've caught him is an excellent idea. Having a feed ready for you in the horsebox or trailer again means the horse has a pleasant association with the action you want him to take and if he's not fearful or in discomfort, it is likely to make him look forward to entering the vehicle in future. I hope to address some of the uses of food in my 2012 series of Top Marks so I do hope you stay tuned!"