No Treats For The Hello Ritual

Hi, this is Mark here. As you may have seen, Carolyn's site has been down the last day or so for which I profusely apologize. At this stage, we do not know exactly what happened. I am guessing it was some sort of hack attack, a professional hazard of working online. Anyway, we have restored a backup from LAST SUNDAY 23rd, so if you made a comment on or since then, it may have been lost. Please go back and check if you are not sure. Apologies once again and normal service will now been resumed... here's Carolyn!


As many of you know, I use treating and food very specifically and purposefully in my work with horses. However, in the ‘Saying Hello’ Waterhole Ritual, you do not want to use treats. The reason for this is it causes the horse to focus on the treat and not on you.

I gained a deeper insight into why not to use treats during the Hello Ritual from the dog whisperer, Cesar Milan. Watching his TV show, I learned more clearly the way a dog’s mind operates. I was feeding my food-aggressive dog, Apollo, the way Cesar suggested and now that I have learned the significance of why it is important, training my dog has become a lot easier.

Cesar said that you need to be the pack leader. One way to get a dog to understand this point is during feeding time; you ask the dog to look at you rather than the bowl of food you are holding. If you don’t do this, the dog will fixate on and become possessive of the food. However if the dog is looking at you instead of the food it, means that he is listening to you and sees you as the leader. How simple is that?

In my course, I gave guidance to a couple of people to give a treat in the Saying Hello Ritual and then I noticed the difference with several people to whom I had not suggested using treats. Please then follow the Ritual as it was meant to be used unless I am personally coaching you. Treating in this Ritual has a danger of getting the horse to want the treat rather than the relationship. When I have suggested to a person to use a treat with the Hello Ritual, I am careful to add more opportunities to make up for the loss of connection that offering a treat at this time would cause.

You could be in danger of developing a trained circus horse mentally through treating and this is not the result you are after. You do not what a horse to begin performing by rote. What you want is a partnership in connection through the horse’s desire for you and not your treat. I want horses at liberty to be able to work with you in spontaneous expressions of the dance. YOU are learning with my Method how to shape a connection with your horse in moments of free expression not to train a behavior. Working with freedom, you will learn how to keep the dance alive and connected at the same time, even in the fall out.

As everyone advances, don’t be tempted to make it easy on yourself and take shortcuts with treats just to get performance or to keep the connection. The connection and performance comes to you from the practice of the Rituals and your growing ability to use body language and leadership when the magnetic connection is present

Building a true relationship with a horse has many aspects: it is not just about treating or not treating, its about building a partnership through everyday bonding rituals that are natural to horses. Remember the focus is to be aware of where the relationship is going and lead it to a deeper connection.