It is so important to reward the good. I hopped on a horse yesterday for a few minutes and the first thing I noticed was she seem to say, “let’s just get this over with”. So, I took it slow and I rewarded every good turn (around the barrel) with a rub on the neck. I made it rewarding for her and ‘us’. Soon she was listening to cues and turning on a dime. What a good girl!
Then this morning, I decided to put an escape artist into our gaming arena because unlike his fence, the gaming fence is very hot (high voltage). The minute he saw the gaming arena he stopped – he knew that arena meant work… Hmmm. Now, I know his riders love him and give him lots of rewards, so why did he hesitate?
How do you reward your horse in such a way that when they see your work area they associate it with positive? There will always be that horse that just doesn’t want to work – don’t get me wrong, our escape artist could be one of those horses.
As a rider, our goal is definitely to read the mount under us and work as a team to better the ‘us’. Concentrate on what your mount is saying to you through stiffened muscles, pulling on reins, relaxed headset- etc.
In class, you will hear me say reward the good, discipline the bad. Notice the reward is mentioned first. Slow down, do little things you know your horse can do well and tell them how proud you are of them with a rub on the neck or a ‘good girl/boy’. Sometimes, you find you are not just training, you’re building a relationship.