I personally do not believe in giving treats when training because a horse is a very easily conditioned animal. When I was located at a training facility that I drove to every morning, my horses would nicker and come running up to the end of the paddock because they recognized the sound of my diesel engine even before they saw the truck. It became a conditioned response for them. Most people thought that was nice and that they loved me but actually they knew that once I got there, they would soon be fed. They also got to be aggressive, running into the stall, nickering and basically yelling feed me, feed me, feed me.
I’ve seen too many people over the years get hurt because they just mounted without getting the freshness off the horse. Some people like to call lunging play but it is the running, bucking, and rearing to let off steam and have a good time. Especially during the winter when there is not a lot of turnout and a horse has been in a stall or paddock for two or even three days, it is critical to let the horse unwind.
Many trainers lead with the horse behind but I like to lead with the horse beside me. I do this simply because I believe it is a matter of safety. As with so many aspects of horsemanship, there are two philosophies about the right way to lead a horse. First, the philosophy of leading with the horse behind is based on the principle that if you are going to be the leader, you need to lead.
Someone recently said to me that she had watched me, Richard Winters and some of the other well known horsemen train and had seen the results and the progress a horse could make in one session. She said that when she went home and tried to do the same things, she had difficulties and did not get the same results. She wanted to know what she was doing wrong.