You Don't Feed Treats to Other People's Horses .. Y/N?

This cropped up briefly in the Dressage forum (for anyone who’s acquainted with the “another boarder pulled my horse’s mane” thread), but I was so late to the party that the comment was long since buried. But I have to ask, because this is something I’ve always lived by, which is … You Don’t Feed Treats to Other People’s Horses. It’s practically the 11th Commandment - I don’t even remember learning it … it just always was.

Is this a commonly held belief, or do you (or those around you) feel it’s acceptable to feed treats to other people’s horses? And I’m talking largely horses belonging to fellow boarders at barns where you ride/lease/own some form of equine, without you present and/or without first checking that it’s okay to do so. Why or why not?

I’d love to know if I’m in the majority or minority, here.


I dont unless I have previously asked. There are some people I’ve given carte blanche to treat my horses. Other people will leave treats on my door or leave a bag of apples for the barn.

Why not? Horse may be on a diet. Horse may be pushy and nippy. Horse may be doing clicker training and getting random treats messes that up. Owner may just prefer no one messing with their horses.

Horses do not need random hand fed treats. People do not to need to feed them.


I don’t feed treats to other people’s horses, unless I have asked first. A horse may be on a specific diet, it might have nipping/biting/behavioral issues, the owner may not want to ever have treats fed by hand… there are enough reasons that people are particular about feeding treats, that I would never give any to someone’s horse without permission.

Now, if I have a friend who owns a horse that I spend a lot of time with, I will ask if they are okay with me feeding treats. If they’re cool with it, I will happily give the horse cookies and scratches.


I don’t feed random horses I don’t know treats anymore than I’d feed random children I don’t know. For people whose horses I know, I’ll happily give a treat since I know whether or not the pony may have one.

I’d assume most people would operate in a similar manner (treats only with permission) unless their barn culture is… a lot more “casual” in regards to things like that. I worked at a program that actively encouraged beginner clients and their families to go through the barn to pet/feed all the program’s horses, however there were some horses in the barn that were privately boarded. Even with signs saying “don’t touch” or “no treats” there were a ton of people who didn’t read the signs because they’d been conditioned to just feed/touch any horse they could see.

I remember one mother being very upset because they’d stopped at /Barn X/ (a different barn on the same property who belonged to a private trainer) to pet ponies just like they did at our barn. The staff at the other barn chewed them out! How dare they?! Oh, and did I forget to mention the entire property was recently reopenned after a months-log quarantine due an outbreak of contagious respiratory illness? If there are people who would walk up to pet random dogs behind a fence, there are definately people willing to stick their hands into random horses’ stalls.


I ask prior. Only time I haven’t asked is emergency catching a horse or when I visited my previous horse that had a new owner.

Previous barn I boarded, BO fed treats, if you didn’t like it, move. They were sugar free, low calorie and she said it made her job so much easier catching horses and general handling.


I barely glance at others’ horses and absolutely don’t feed treats without asking. Treats come out on very rare occasions and I actually prefer to give the treats to the owner to feed. It makes life so much easier for everyone. There is one horse who I care for daily and I have permission to give treats but even so, treats are given less than once a week and I toss them in her feed.


LOL exactly.

To be honest, I’m not sure why anyone would want to feed other people’s animals (or children). I have enough to do, spend enough money on my own pets and offspring, and have limited time. The very last thing I want to do is hang out with other people’s animals that also need care and feeding.


I never feed random horses. If I know an owner really well and we’ve discussed it, I’ll drop an extra treat in the bucket of the stall when giving my mare one. I don’t hand feed treats to any horse except my own. Even the best horse can get pushy and I don’t want to be in a position where there’s an inappropriate treat snatch or teeth grade and now I either have to discipline another persons horse or reinforce a bad behavior because both are lines I don’t want to cross unless it’s truly an emergency. I also don’t pet horses I don’t know well. Their stalls are their quiet time so I don’t assume they want contact just because their head is over the door.


Nope, definitely don’t feed treats to other people’s horses. As a kid in a lesson barn, it was always a free-for-all with the lesson horses, anything goes. But once I had my own horse, and moved into training/boarding barn environments, it was obvious that other people’s horses are basically Off Limits.

Nowadays, the only exception I have is with client’s horses. But that is after it has already been established that I can give them treats (and should, if they’ve been good students! :wink:)

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No. The only time I give treats to horses that aren’t mine are if I know the owner and am catching/caring for the horse for the owner. Or if I’m riding the horse and have established that I like to reward my mounts with treats for positive behaviors such as rewarding the horse who won’t pick up his feet for picking up his feet to let me pick them.


Not without permission. I do have permission to spoil the school horses absolutely rotten. I do a fair amount of treats with my fellow for carrot stretches and so on and I think it’s karmically unfair if Tip is down there getting cookies for turning his head sideways, and the sainted school horse being tacked up in the aisle is not getting anything to fortify him to teach children to be kind horsepeople.

I know darn well that my horse is conning treats out of everyone who walks by and I probably can’t stop that.


Not without permission, and I don’t interpret permission once as for all the time, so I only do it with the owner present so they can also see what treat is being offered. A lot of the horses at my barn have allergies or intolerances, and just because the owner was like “sure give him a carrot!” once doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to feed the same horse a cookie the next time I see him. My own two are spoiled out of their minds.


Only with permission. Sometimes that’s a one-time thing where I ask, or sometimes there’s long-term permission given (for, say, a lesson horse or a friend’s horse I see regularly). Some horses have dietary restrictions, some people don’t hand feed their horse, etc. so I would never just assume I can give a horse anything.

Also only with permission. I have a pony in a low sugar, no soy diet so I don’t want him fed random things. I will provide treats to people who want to feed him. Luckily he is also very picky about his treats and won’t eat most things.

Sigh… :persevere:
Welcome to my World of County Fair.
I tell people the Short Bus unloads right outside the barn. Then in comes the Parade of Maroons. Parents pushing infants in strollers practically underneath your horse/pony.
Holding kids up to reach through the stalls to “pet the horsey” - said animal may or may not bite.
About 1 out of every 100 asks permission. :expressionless:

Back on topic:
I confess my 3 are spoiled rotten Treat Hos. But only from my hands, or in my presence. And they mind their manners.
With the single exception of a neighbor who I have observed & given permission to feed limited & specific amounts of certain treats.
But other’s horses? NO. Nope. Never.
I wouldn’t ever presume to offer any sort of treat to any horse besides my own.
Recently had to inform the neighbor who visits my herd that the baby carrot treats are now verboten for the mini who has threatened laminitis.
If I meet up with a friend at a show or other event, I may carry in my pocket a couple horse cookies, but always ask permission. And I am not offended if the answer is No.

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Only with permission. Who knows what else is going on with a horse, or how many other people feed them treats that day. So unless I’ve established with an owner that it’s ok to treat their horse on an ongoing basis, I ask permission every time.

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No. Its not my horse to do anything with. Some people have a difficult time understanding that concept.


Definitely NO! I don’t hand feed my own horses, why would I let somebody else do it ?



BTW, good to see you back! Noticed I wasn’t seeing much from you anymore, hope all is going well.

Im getting my house ready to list amid shortages, delays and jaw dropping price increases. Taken about 6 months to get anything done, still one more biggish project coming in Aug. booked in APRIL… Still working, chose to change locations instead of accept package, kind of a surprise.

Already signed for an apartment in Fl in late May that I cant get into until August. Good thing I started looking early. But I’ve been kind of busy trying to manage my too full plate lately.

Stumbled across a really nice community of apartments that were formerly condos. Well inland. Looking forward to peace, quiet and nobody in a tool belt…tho furnishing it is going to be more challenging.

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