Not Pawing

My horse never paws for treats, which a lot of people say is good, because most of the other horses at this barn do. However, instead of pawing she sometimes leans so far down/forward against the cross ties that she breaks them. It is worth noting that she also does the same thing when I am grooming her and I get an ‘itchy’ spot. Is there a reason she does not paw and how should I get her to stop breaking cross ties?

If someone is giving a horse that is pawing a treat to make it stop pawing, they are essentially rewarding bad behavior. The horse leans pawing = treat. So it is correct that pawing for treats is not a desirable behavior.

However, breaking the cross ties is also not desirable. First, (if possible) swap the cross ties out for a kind that have a break away snap, like these. That way, there is nothing to “break”. Second, treats should be used as a reward for good behavior and not overfed, as in, the horse is always expecting them. Don’t leave them where the horse might try to reach and get them. Your horse may need some refresher training on how to stand quietly in the cross ties. Also, ensure the cross ties are not too tight.

I have never been a big treat feeder. I’ve seen how when mis-used, they can cause mouthyness, impatience, pushyness, pawing and other unwanted behaviors. Treats for my boys are reserved for vet and farrier visits when they have been good boys, or when giving medications. They do get a few treats at Christmas and I will give them an occasional treat when they are really good after I’ve removed a bunch a burrs and they didn’t fuss about it. I prefer a verbal “good pony” and a scratch or a stroke in their favorite place as a reward.

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As not funny as this is, this is a pretty funny problem.

I’d just give her an AHH AHH when she goes to lean, and lift her head/back her a step if she keeps leaning on the ties.

The fact that most horses at the barn paw for treats shows a general lack of manners in the barn. Good for you for trying to improve upon your horse’s habits!


Be glad your mare does not paw.
Very bad habit :mad:

Agree with @endlessclimb , correct the leaning the second it starts. Whether it’s for a treat or that Special Spot.
A sharp “No!” along with moving her back to upright. Repeat as needed, she’ll get the message.
No treat or scritch until she stands quietly & no hint of leaning.

I confess, I do treat & (Horror of Horrors :eek:) by hand.
But I Do.Not.Tolerate. the merest hint of pushy behavior.
Any grabbiness is met with a growl, No! & no treat.
Horse, pony & mini know the drill, and will stand quietly - either loose in my paddock, or at their open stall doors (my farm) as I dispense morning treat or evening cookie.
Yes, they are spoiled (rotten), but as long as they’re polite about it: My Barn, My Rules.

In a boarding situation, I would limit treats to in their stall from my hand or in feedpan.


I generally reserve treats for clicker training and insist horse stand back to receive.

With a horse leaning on cross ties like this I would try teaching her to stand still. Even before she starts to actually lean make her keep her feet still. Poke her chest to make her back up.

Myself I would consider clicker training a horse like this to stand still. But I would start out in the open somewhere in a paddock not the crossties. Horse is to stand still on command with the leadrope tossed over her neck while I walk away, walk around her, etc and the click and treat. I also add on come when I whistle so I don’t get a horse that stands stock still in a muddy field thinking that’s what’s wanted! But you need to be committed to clicker training for this.

shorten the length of the cross ties to only allow some movement but not allow dropping of head

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I used to be super anti treat but I’ve been spoiling mine the last couple years :lol: as long as they continue to be polite about it, i don’t mind using treats so much. They “beg” by basically trying to look as adorable as possible, or in Rain’s case either smiling at you or doing carrot stretches by himself then looking at you to see if you will give him a cookie (he is a bit of a weirdo). They are both the absolute gentlest treat-takers too, I think they have learned that being sweet and gentle gets them more :smiley: