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Trainer Q&A - Behavior Problems & Quirks - Is feeding a misbehaving horse rewarding his bad behavior?

Is feeding a misbehaving horse rewarding his bad behavior?

Virb8im Asks:

Hi: Could you please help settle a debate? Often while we're in the barn doing chores in front of our horses in their stalls, my husband almost always gives his rather unruly gelding a handful of sweet feed, hay, carrots, or apples if he starts putting his head through the stall or kicking at the walls. My husband says, "It'll get him out of our hair." I couldn't disagree more with this pattern as I believe it essentially rewards the horse for his bad behavior. Also, I believe it has taught him to associate our presence in the barn with being fed every time, all the time. He believes it's not a big deal and I'm being too hard on the horse. Please weigh in on this for me and help us settle this issue!


Our Trainer Answers:

Most definitely, horses always see being fed off their regular schedule as a reward. If you allow your husband to continue feeding this gelding of yours when he is kicking at the stall walls, he will indeed be teaching your horse to continue just such behavior. When he finds himself building new walls for this horse's stall, let's hope he learns his lesson.

Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellingon