Unclear is Unkind: Approach Training from the Horse’s Perspective

How horses learn and how many people think they learn are often at odds.

SALIDA, Colorado, May 31, 2022–Julie Goodnight sheds light on how horses learn from every interaction with a person–for better or worse–in the latest episode of Ride on with Julie Goodnight. (JulieGoodnight.com/Podcast)

“No one sets out to teach a horse to be difficult to handle, but it happens a lot,” says Goodnight. “People often unknowingly reward the wrong behavior or fail to reinforce a cue, and–whether it’s a lack of awareness, a fear of the horse’s response, or the mistaken belief that the horse won’t like you–the horse learns the wrong thing. That’s not fair to the horse”

Goodnight discusses how horses learn and make associations, become trained or untrained, what a reward looks like from the horse’s perspective, and the difference between reinforcement and punishment. 

“After decades of teaching horsemanship clinics and working with literally thousands of horse-and-rider pairs, I’ve seen a common lack of understanding in people about what motivates horses,” says Goodnight. “Having a basic understanding of the science-based concepts of training and shaping behavior will make your job a lot easier!”

Horses are always learning, and the more people understand how they learn and how this shapes their behavior, the more effective training is, the more responsive the horse is, and the more cohesive the horse-human relationship is.

Listen and subscribe to Ride On with Julie Goodnight at JulieGoodnight.com/Podcast or any podcast app.

RELATED: Take Julie Goodnight’s Quiz to Learn your Horse’s Skill Set for Training


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