Praise Your Horse

So many times we are riding and trying to accomplish something and totally forget that the horse needs a pat on the neck once and awhile. If the horse acts sour, it’s probably for a good reason.  Reward for the small stuff if you are having a problem with the big stuff.  Your horse is dropping a shoulder?  OK, ask him to stop, and if he stops on a dime, reward time!


I’ve seen horses that don’t actually like their riders. The riders were always picking at the horse and never rewarded them for good behavior.  It’s sad because what rider doesn’t love horses?  If they didn’t they wouldn’t ride.  It was just some miscommunication on the riders part.


So just remember when you’re stressing out or fighting with your horse to praise him for his small accomplishments. A pat on the neck is all it takes.  Don’t feed a treat, pat the horse.  Dogs are not the only animals who like to be petted and patted.  They don’t really care where the food comes from they’ll take it from anybody, but a good pat on the neck from a trusted friend for a job well done is a real connection.


About Deanna Castro

Deanna Castro has been training horses and riders professionally for over 18 years. She trains riders in Horsemanship, Western Pleasure, Showmanship and Trail Riding. Deanna is married to Native American Horse Trainer Fredi Castro and she is the author of "Six Weeks to a Better Horse".
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6 Responses to Praise Your Horse

  1. Sabrina says:

    Great advice!! Unfortunately…in my opinion…I don’t see praise being used enough as a reward these days. And the people who rarely praise their horses don’t understand how so and so’s horse can love, respect, and trust them when if all they did was open their eyes and see that something so simple as praise can mean the world to a horse! Horses are living breathing thinking emotional beings just as we are and a little kindness for a good old college try and a job well done goes a long way!! :)

  2. dcastro says:

    Thanks Sabrina. I totally agree, there just is not enough praise being given when it’s deserved. I really think it’s just something that some people need to be told, then they will have that “Aha” moment and do it.

    We spend so much money and time on our animals, I’m sure that the lack of praise is just an oversight and misunderstanding on the riders part.

  3. Sabrina says:

    I’m sure with most people it is a misunderstanding…but I know for a fact that some don’t believe in praise and that the horse should just do what they’re asked to do. I honest to goodness have met people like that!! And those people aren’t abusive…they’re very much nice people…but they just have a different way of doing things. Some more sensitive horses thrive on praise and NEED it to be successful while others do just fine with a release of pressure to learn what they need to learn. And what’s sad is those “sensitive” horses end up titled as crazy, dangerous, etc while there’s honestly NOTHING wrong with them other than needing a different type of handling and training!

  4. dcastro says:

    I think that’s just sad when people miss out on a partnership with a horse. Horses aren’t human, they are animals which sadly can be more perceptive and sensitive than humans.

    I couldn’t agree with you more Sabrina. We have to realize too that 99 percent of the time it’s rider error when horses don’t do what they are supposed to. A little praise makes the animal a lot more forgiving!

  5. Jessica says:

    My horse loves praise. In fact, when we are doing something that she isn’t getting, I will break the task into smaller pieces and praise each correct part. From there she catches on very quickly. She just needs a little reminder that what she is doing is right, and then she’ll continue trying.

  6. dcastro says:

    Love to hear that Jessica. That’s how you train a horse, awesome job :)

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