Practicing Praise & Snapshotting Behaviors

How often do you let your horse know they’ve done/are doing what you’ve asked them for?

Praise is SO incredibly important when working with your horse, particularly if you are working on something new or challenging. Actually saying out loud ‘good/good boy/good girl’ and pairing that the release of pressure, or with some kind of reinforcement such as a rub/scratch or treats etc (whatever is best for you and your horse) is a great way of ‘snapshotting’ the moment that your horse has offered the behavior (or steps towards it) that you are looking for. The better your timing with this, the more ‘drive and try’ your horse will have to working with you, making the whole experience more of a positive interaction, and a more enjoyable experience for both horse and human.

For me, I find that consistent ‘pairing’ of using my voice and other positive reinforcements is key, particularly at times when I am working with my horse and can’t physically reach them (such as lunging, long reining or liberty work) because then when I want to praise them, they will get the same good feelings from me simply using my voice, as they would if I was physically giving them a rub or a treat. This method utilises principles of classical and operant conditioning to shape behaviors effectively.

So my question to you is, do you praise your horse out loud? Do you work to pair that with other reinforcement…and do you keep an eye out for moments when you can snapshot behaviors that you’re after…?

If not, I highly recommend giving this a try, and please feel free to let me know how you get on in the comments!

If you’d like to learn more about this, I talk all about it on the podcast episode linked below!

Otherwise, I hope you found this helpful, and I’ll be back with another blog soon!

Over and out!

Kim 🙂 xx