In the past, I’ve emailed a lot of
info where I describe key principles in
One I like to harp on is the prin-
ciple of “kindness.”
Instinctively, most understand the
kindness thing. After all, why be cruel to
Even though that’s a given, that’s
not the principle reason I preach about being
kind to your horse.
When I say “treat your horse with
kindness” the importance in training is this:
When a horse does as you ask, he
should be rewarded with kindness such as a
carress on the point of shoulder or forehead.
The thing a lot of people don’t get
is kindness with punishment. (When I say punish-
ment, I don’t mean whipping or hitting a horse.
Punishment “ONLY” refers to negative reinforce-
ment which can be as light as an abrasive tone
When a horse needs corrected through
negative reinforcement then it’s my practice
to almost immediately follow up with kindness
such as caressing.
The reason is to keep a horse’s con-
fidence up and principally to reinforce you’re
still his buddy…even though he did something
Here’s a good story that’ll reinforce
About 9 years ago, I moved into another
house. My son and I went to get it ready for
the move in. At the time, he was around 3 years
While I was cleaning parts of the house
he was running about.
We were just about ready to leave when
I noticed the carpet didn’t look right in my
I checked it out and found paint had
been spilled on it. It was wet and fresh.
Upset, I called him in the bedroom and
angrily asked, “DID YOU DO THAT?!!!”
After hearing my tone, he knew he was
in trouble. He was nervous. (Hmmm, just like
Then I said, “I’M MAD AT YOU FOR DOING
Within seconds he started crying. It
broke my heart that I had broke his.
Immediately and with extrememe compassion
and heartfelt words I said, “I’m not mad at
The crying ceased in a few seconds except
for the occassional gasps of air he needed to
The lesson was, he needed to know he
made a mistake but more importantly he needed
to know I still loved and approved of him. Had
I not countered the negative reinforcement, I
think it would’ve been injurious down the road.
And that’s how I see it with horses. You
should make sure they’re loved and approved of even
if they “spilled the paint.” For if they continue
to feel a little afraid and uneasiness, it’ll
be harder to train ’em.
But one has to be careful in timing the
kindness because you could reinforce the wrong
For instance, if you go to catch your
horse and he runs from you but finally lets you
catch him…and then when you catch him, pet him,
then say “Good boy” you teach him to run from
Why? Because he learns he’ll get
petted and told he’s a good boy “after” he runs
from you and later gets caught.
Paul Esh, a featured trainer from
on his video why this is so important.
It’s amazing what you can learn from different
horse trainers because each has there unique things they
That’s why SuperStars of Horse Training exists.
You learn from the best of the best of horse trainers.
What they do with horses you can too after see what
they show you.
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