Does My Pony Need Treats?
If you're asking should you look for every opportunity to praise your pony or tell him you think he's special or he deserves a reward then "YES". Ponies are just like every other animal or even people for that matter in that they know when they are being praised and when they've done something good. Acknowledging them with a treat after they've performed particularly well not only causes them to feel special but it gives you a warm feeling knowing you recognize your partners efforts and it actually helps you to appreciate him more and feel a deeper connection but there are guidelines you'll want to observe to keep from turning your little darling into a monster.
Always wait till you're ready to put your Pony away before giving him a treat. Ponies have a one track mind and if you feed him his treat before you groom him or when you're cleaning him up after his ride he'll hardly be able to stand still and will make life quite miserable for you in the process.
One cookie is plenty but no more than two. Ponies are very "easy keepers" which means a little goes a very long way. You must always be careful of your pony's weight to insure he doesn't end up foundering. Too many cookies can put him on a very painful fast track to a horrible condition called founder. Carrots are a bit safer but you still need to be careful limiting his reward to only a few.
Be careful feeding your pony from your hand. Ponies have a hard time being able to tell when the treat ends and your finger begins and NEVER reprimand your pony for accidently biting a finger. They just can't tell the difference. If you want to be smart and safe throw the cookie in a small bucket and feed it to him while you hold it, that way he can be sure it's from you.
Don't let your pony hold you hostage. Because of their size I have found this to be more of a "horse" problem in that the horse may become aggressive regarding a treat. When this occurs you must stop feeding the horse treats immediately relying only on verbal praise and a good pet on the neck for future praise.
If you're feeding carrots for treats break them up into small bites and feed them slowly. Ponies are notorious for gulping their food and it's possible for a large piece of carrot to become lodged within the pony's throat and can cause him to choke which can be a very dangerous condition. We once had a pony at our barn that began to choke on pelleted feed causing us to call out the vet and spend a very anxious hour or more trying to save his life.
Remember to keep in mind that feeding your pony a treat is as much for you (maybe more) than it is for him. Don't let him take advantage of your generosity and in the case of treats, less is always better than more. More love does not mean more treats!