Teaching movements with Positive Reinforcement


I can’t believe i managed to embed a VIDEO in a BLOG! I feel like I invented the internet or something now. I’m going to be going around offering to make websites for people with my newfound, amazing skills!


Ok, enough of that. Today I  started teaching Cato to do lateral movements. He already knows how to turn his hips towards me, and also his shoulders, so today we worked on putting them together!

I did fall down the fell once as I was backing up, there was a slope… It happens.

Here you can see where we ended the session after Cato did a couple of really lovely lateral steps TOWARDS me.

When implementing force free training, if we use touch in any way to teach a behaviour, we have to be absolutely sure that the horse doesn’t find that touch aversive, and also that we as humans cannot ESCALATE that touch.

By teaching a horse to move towards a target with their body, or move into a touch, we are ensuring that they are comfortable with it and that we can’t escalate it.

After all, it is very easy to picture how touch can be escalated to move a horse AWAY, but how do you escalate touch to ask a horse to move into the touch?

Most horses are taught to move away from touch, so on occasion, it has worried people who weren’t expecting it that if they touch one of my horses to ask them to move over, they get a horse moving towards them.

Even funnier if they do it on the back end and initiate a hip target- so have the back end of a horse swing round to them… I make sure they do some good bum scratches while I explain what just happened.

Cato and I will continue to work on this behaviour and we will add a vocal cue to it, and then we will transfer it to ridden. Cool, huh?