Treatment Name: Training Theories: Negative Reinforcement

Treatment Type: Training Techniques

Rated for: American Quarter Horse

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Easy to use
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Don't play chase

Stephanie Marie



Cashmere, Washington, United States

Posted Jun. 23, 2018

For horses that like to run away and try to avoid being caught, one of the best methods I've learned for addressing the issue is to use negative reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is the process of rewarding good behavior by providing a release of pressure or removal of an undesired stimuli.

So in this case, I will keep a horse than doesn't like to be caught in a pen big enough for the horse to at the very least get up to a good comfortable working trot pace but not so big that you yourself couldn't also easily run from one end to the other relatively easily. Something the size of a round pen or medium sized arena works well. Bring a rope, lunge whip, or training stick and string (carrot stick, handy stick) and when you step out to catch the horse and he moves away after being asked to come to you, push him to keep moving around the pen as if it were your decision to send him out on the rail to work. This gets their attention because now your turned the table and are making the decisions. If the horse does try to stop before you ask, ask him to keep going a bit longer. Then, as you would in a round pen or other groundwork, stop and give the option for him to come in to you. This is your offering a reward and release of pressure for your original wanted behavior (coming to you to be caught).

In summary: the target goal is the horse coming to you. The stimuli is the work the has to do because you are now requiring him to move. The reward is the removal of the unwanted stimuli, which makes this process "negative reinforcement."

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