The Power of Praise

Find the Good in Every Horse

by Kim Roe


Praise for Exo. Photo Credit: Aliena Hook

I began taking piano lessons in my 40’s along with my young daughter. It was a mother-daughter activity that we could do together, and it was a bonus for both of us that it had nothing to do with horses or my horse business.

I loved my piano teacher, but she would often point out to me jokingly that my older mind wouldn’t be able to learn or memorize as fast as my daughter, who could crank out the songs like she’d started playing in the womb. That notion—that I couldn’t do it easily—pricked at my confidence. I know my teacher didn’t mean to be cruel or negative, but there it was, a negative thought that made my learning even harder. I believed that it would be hard for me, and it was.

Horses and humans need to hear praise, the words, “You can do this; I believe in you, and you are good.” These praise words are powerful, affirming, and positive. Horses can sense our belief or disbelief in them. They feel our disappointment, even when we try to hide it from them, and it can crush their try. A horse’s trust in us depends on how well we keep the training a positive experience for them. Anger, frustration, and fear kills the joy in the training process for both horse and rider. Most horses want to please, and they need to know praise and when they are doing things right.

I always try to find the good in a horse. Every horse has positive qualities we can appreciate and focusing on them makes everyone happy. I think this is a great way to deal with people too, and that is where being a horse person pays off: they train us to be better humans.

I hope you enjoy the magazine this month with its focus on training. Our cover story is on the spectacular Odysseo by Cavalia, and one of their trainers, Rebecca Ratte. Cavalia’s trainers are known for their focus on positive training techniques, and it shows in the beauty of the performances. Email me your thoughts and ideas at I’d love to hear from you.


Published August 2016 Issue


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