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Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

To Treat or Not to Treat

By Bryan Neubert, Alturas, CA

 

May 2012 issue

 

      Occasionally, someone asks my opinion on giving handouts to horses. I’ve had some people say it can cause horses to become pushy and obnoxious. I suppose that would be right with some people. I suppose some people that give their child a cookie once in awhile might have them screaming and crying for one all the time. If they gave in to that behavior they could have a pushy and obnoxious child on their hands.

      The last few days have been stormy at our place. The corrals are real muddy. Catching a horse in the lot where I keep them can be not fun at all. They might decide they need a day off and not want to be caught. I have a small trough by the gate and I throw part of a handful of grain in there to be shared by seven head of horses. They are on to the routine. I started this when the corral was dry. It sure is nice to have them meet me at the gate instead of me wading through that mud.

      I’ve never had one get pushy, but if he did he might get a poke in the nose instead of a treat. It doesn’t take a bucket of grain for this. I remember Tom Dorrance joking, “If each horse gets two kernels of grain, they got one too many.”

        I also have two yearling colts that arrived a couple days ago. They were range raised and are pretty leery of me. Yesterday, they found out what grain tastes like. I offered it to them in the lid of a plastic barrel. It was perfect, they didn’t have to get too close to me or run their head down a bucket.  

 

To Treat or Not to Treat by Bryan Neubert, Alturas, CA

      Today I will make an offer every time I change horses and perhaps, before the day is over, they will take some from my hand. They were broke to lead and handled some last fall, but now they don’t know if they can quite trust me yet.

      The grain will help them appreciate my presence and help bridge the gap between us. One was a little bolder. The shyer one was using his partner for security as he came up for his treat. Grain or whatever treat you like can be just the tool you need if you use it appropriately and at the right time.

      These colts won’t get pushy. As soon as they get friendly and are glad to see me, I’ll turn them back out in the pasture and get two more to work on. They won’t forget this and will be glad to see me in the future when they get another opportunity.

      While feeding hay in a manger where I keep my saddle horses, one customer’s horse stepped in front of me. I needed to step around him to deliver my hay. He was too gentle to spook off and it was safer to step around him.

      The next time I feed out there I may have a buggy whip tucked under my armload of hay. I don’t need to murder him. However, before he becomes crabby about being fed, I need to help him realize the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Horses can become friendly and glad to see you, however, they need to learn there is a line out there that they would be better off not crossing.

 

Clinician Bryan Neubert teaches clinics throughout the U.S. , as well as at his ranch near Alturas , California , in the northeastern part of the state. Clinics include Colt Starting, Horsemanship, Cow Working, Ranch Roping, and Trail. For more information, call 530-233-3582; bpneubert@yahoo.com; or visit www.bryanneubert.com.

   

 

Copyright 2012 Rocky Mountain Rider. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Reproduction of any editorial material, artwork and photos is strictly forbidden without express written permission of the publisher. For information about reprint rights, please contact the editor; editor@rockymountainrider.com.

 

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