Control is a Primary Reinforcer

Posted in: Equine Training, Positive Reinforcement Training, The Academy of Positive Horsemanship, Young Horse Training

I think one of the most wonderful outcomes of training with appetitives and positive reinforcement is the sense of empowerment it gives the learner. As Dr Susan Friedman explains – control over our environment is a primary reinforcer, and giving the animal control (as we do when using +R) develops their self confidence beyond all imagination – leading to a much bolder animal overall.

20161005_140644_1476953395174_resizedFor a flight animal who has evolved to flee any potentially threatening situation, allowing them to control the situation without force or coercion from equipment of any kind, develops horses who are less spooky, less cynical about situations overall and ultimately much safer to be around in a world where we can’t always control the external environment.

My young horse has now had nearly as much time in her life being handled and trained with appetitives and positive reinforcement as she had before she came to me with traditional and more conventional aversive handling.

20161007_112447_1476953399395_resizedFrom the frightened, somewhat dangerous, spooky horse who didn’t even want humans near her – she is now one of the boldest and most ridiculously confident horse I have ever met around potentially threatening stimuli such as large machinery including diggers and enormous tipping trailers.

Learn more about what reward based training can do to empower your horse by becoming a member of the Academy –