Equine Reward Based Training

Reflections From The Saddle Mission:

concentrate on using the science behind reward based training to bring clarity and respect to the human/horse partnership.

[jbox]We start with training that makes sense from the horse’s point of view and is rewarding to create motivation and desire.  Teaching clarity from the simplest of aids & movements to the most complex of movements so you develop the ultimate partnership with your horse.  Your horse will clearly learn your aids faster with reward based training.  Your horse is developed into a well trained, well behaved horse and the entire process is fun for you and the horse.



Tips on

How to Develop a Relationship With Your Horse

  • Share space and time with your horse without an agenda. This may mean just grabbing a chair and sitting in the field with them or just hanging out with them doing what they do. Give your horse time to explore you without you having demands.
  • Use rewards to signal that yes you really liked that behavior they just did.
  • Say thank you.
  • If your horse isn’t willing, change your approach.
  • Never use physical violence.
  • Always be patient.
  • Always look at the situation from your horse’s point of view.
  • Never train when your horse is scared or uncomfortable.
  • Learn your horse’s personality and work with it, not against it.
  • Keep it fun!


Why Reward Based Training Works

Positive reinforcement is the addition of a reward after a desired behavior in order to increase the chances of that behavior happening again. It is based on operant conditioning and is an excellent training tool. It can be used when shaping behaviors, developing behavioral chains and counter-conditioning. The following characteristics make it a great way to train any animal.

  • fast learning
  • pinpoints exact behavior
  • fun to learn, fun to teach
  • creates a bond and mutual respect
  • encourages curiosity and friendliness
  • alleviates fear
  • recognizes the intelligence of the horse
  • gives the animal control over its circumstances
  • motivates
  • systematic for training and problem solving
  • concentrates on what is right
  • honors the horses spirit


The Marker

Signals are used to tell the horse that a reward is coming. Pairing the signal/marker with a reward via classical conditioning is the first step. It gives meaning to the signal. Using a marker such as a clicker, immediately and clearly links the behavior to the food reward.

Once the horse understands the signal and reward, you can begin teaching behaviors that will illicit the signal and reward. Once the horse has the behavior learned, you can begin cueing for the behavior. This tells the horse when it will get reinforced for doing a specific behavior.

In order to clearly tell the horse what behavior they will get rewarded for, trainers use a “clicker”. The precision that the trainer can mark a specific behavior is what makes the clicker so useful. It is the clearest way to say “YES” to the horse.


Take the next step and add equine reward based training to your horses education.  So I ask you…


Can we watch the horse try without reprimand?

Can we ignore mistakes?

Can break our lessons into small segments that are easily understood?

Can we notice what the horse did right?  Notice the difference?


Can we extinguish punishment and fear, for it sabotages the outcome in the long run?

Can we realize the active individual horse with intentions, preferences and contributions?

Can we approach the horse with ever increasing honor and respect?


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