How To Teach Your Horse Treat Manners

Some people worry that using treats during training will cause their horse to become pushy, nippy and turn them into a horrible food monster!

Unfortunately this is likely if your horse doesn’t learn how to behave around treats. For most horses food is their favorite thing and they just want some… NOW!

Horse Treat Training

Thankfully it is easy to teach your horse to have perfect manners around treats.

You just need to do some ‘treat training’ to show your horse how you would like them to behave around food.  This includes showing them that mugging and pushy behavior doesn’t get treats, but standing still with their nose away from you does!


  • Teach your horse that they never get a treat when their nose is near you.  Their head must always be facing forward or away from you.
  • Only feed your horse treats during training and after you have asked them to do something. It is very tempting to feed our horses treats at other times, just because we love them but this can confuse our horses – they won’t know when to expect a treat and this can encourage bad behavior.
  • If your horse is stabled or has limited access to feed then give them some hay or some of their usual feed before you bring out the treats and start training. This will put something in their belly and will make them less likely to only focus on the food.
  • training over fenceIf your horse is super pushy around food then try doing the initial treat training over a fence or stable door. This will allow you to step back out of the way until they learn to behave better.

Horses learn very quickly to stop behavior that has no benefit for them.  So the main goal of treat training is to show your horse that they NEVER get a treat if they try to mug you or push you around.

Try spending a few minutes on ‘Treat Training’ every day and soon you will have a horse that is beautifully behaved around food.


In this video I am just starting to teach one of the farm stock horses how to behave around treats (in a kind way).

He LOVES food and can be very pushy when there are treats about. I am training him on the other side of the fence so I can step away if he gets too pushy.

I just need to explain to him that pushy behavior doesn’t get treats, but standing relaxed with his head away from the treats does!


In this video I discuss the importance of teaching food manners – even if you won’t be using food to train your horse.

The video also shows a short training session with Bella.  She used to be very pushy around treats and I explain why (it’s only natural!). But you will see now, she has perfect food manners.