Monday, June 14, 2010

Many ways to train a horse

There are so many methods out there today isn't there? Everyone has their trainer that they follow or their discipline they stick to etc...
The truth is that there are many ways to train a horse! Yes almost all of the methods work! Horses are amazing creatures and will adapt to almost any training method. The differences I have noticed between the methods though are how long it takes for a horse to learn, how readily the horse remembers the lesson, and what the residual side affects of training on the horses behavior.
Check this out:
Bookends Farm had an excellent post that I would love for you guys to read. I think it really explains the consequences of different training methods on the horse.

What I have personally noticed with + reinforcement is that it takes Bodhi less repetitions to learn new skills, and that he almost never forgets what he has learned. I have had very similar experiences to the blog post above where I slip back into traditional training and correct or even punish and I always regret it. As she says it does work, but is it really worth the stress in our relationship, or the negative consequences?

Yet another reason to love Steffen Peters... he is a clicker trainer! I am not surprised but I am definitely proud to learn that the riding team that won Rolex use clicker training!


  1. Thanks for the interesting link - good stuff!

  2. You are right, there are many different ways to train a horse and there are a gazillion people out there who want to tell you that your method is wrong and theirs is right. It's still pretty obvious that I broke my ankle recently and when I tell people what happened I normally get a laundry list of how I should train my mare according to this or that method. The only people I've met that didn't do this were clicker trainers. Yet another reason to clicker train!

    I saw that article about Steffen Peters too, pretty cool!

  3. very interesting article!! I am making a list of things to read up on for Reno, and totally will check out more on Steffen Peters. You are a wealth of info :)

  4. Theres two types of enforcement, negative such as for example to get a horse to walk forward you squeeze your legs. When the horse walks forward you release your squeeze. This is negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement has been shown to have quicker results with less repetition. However not all horses pick it up as quickly as others and some there is no difference. Positive is when you reward the horse with something such as a treat for a behaviour. A horse is more likely to offer the behaviour just like a kid getting candy for doing their homework vs. just saying good job kid.

  5. right, I am glad to see that more and more people are becoming familiar with behavioral terms! It really helps us understand horse training. I like your analogy of a kid getting candy. :) I like to look at it this way; negative reinforcement is like a deadline. It is applied pressure from external sources (like our boss) and when we do our job, the pressure is released. Positive reinforcement is like our paycheck. It is what we earn for a job well done. :) Most people need a good combination of both to be both happy and productive.

  6. There are SO many different ways to train. I really think that is such a problem for so many new comers to the horse world. So many different ideologies and everyone thinks that their way is the best. A trainer who is not intimidated by others ideas is worth their weight in gold if you ask me.I tend to agree that the more positive we can be the better and I am beyond thrilled to learn that so does Steffen Peters. I saw him at the Midwest Fair as was very impressed with the lessons he was giving.