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There’s a big mistake we have all made where we think we are training our horse, but actually they may be training us… essentially neither one really understands what the other thinks is happening.

If you’ve ever had your dog jump on you at the door or your horse mug you for food before turning their head away, you’re going to want to watch this new interview with Dr. Patricia Barlow Irick.

Explaining the “Premack Principle” in training is just one nugget of training gold Patricia gives in this interview, as she also talks about her years of experience working with mustangs and other feral equids.

In this interview, meet Dr. Patricia Barlow Irick, biologist, animal behaviorist, and mustang trainer. Dr. Irick uses science to develop gentling methods so that mustangs can find their new adoptive homes and to ensure those adopters have a successful experience with their new horse.

Dr. Irick has worked with over 600 horses, authored several books, including one we will discuss here, and developed a 26 step training program preparing her mustangs for adoption.   

Click play below to watch the video (if you’re short on time and want to learn about the training mistake mentioned above, go to minute 9:38 in the video)

Learn More about Patricia’s program:


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27 Responses

  1. Very timely and helpful video. Thank you for posting this and including actual information for free. I will be aware with all the animals around, of the reinforcement that can happen with well intentioned distraction commands.
    Also really good to have a positive reinforcement approach validated by an expert. It is still a very unusual way to train where I live.

  2. Horses are very good at teaching us how to do what they want. “I can make that human stop bugging me if I move my haunches like this.”

  3. I love watching your videos. I’m 60 years old, an extreme newby with the world of horses, but want to learn all I can in order to overcome fears and be able to enjoy God’s most beautiful animals on the planet. I recently purchased an older miniature horse to love and help me step into my new adventure. I was not aware that she has a bad hip when purchased her, so I can’t even learn to saddle her up for my grandchildren to ride. I fell in love with her the moment I saw her, so I’m okay with that. However, I do need to move forward in my journey…another horse, more learning, more experience… Since I’m having to start at square one, do you have a book that you would recommend that would educate me on the very basics of caring for a horse along with things like putting on a saddle?

    1. Hi Lynda, thanks for your comment! Congratulations on the new addition of a miniature horse. I don’t have a specific book recommendation, but there are many books on the market that cover that type of information!

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  4. Great interview- it left me wanting more. I would like to order the book. Also, instead of redirecting when the horse is forging ahead while being led: how would you get the horse to walk nicely by your side?

    1. Hi Beth, that might be something that is addressed Patricia’s book!

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Great interview, really, really enjoyed it. I have two Australian wild horses and I can see how this would work for them as well. Thank you so much, so useful.

  6. Thank you for sharing a way of interacting with our animal friends that is compassionate and positive. I am anxious to learn more about this approach!!!!!!!

  7. So glad you’ve made it to work with the Mustangs and Dr Barlow Irick. Fantastic interview.
    Now if you would do a video, using her technique, of how to keep your horse from eating grass while walking across a pasture. Please.

  8. My book list is ever increasing with Callie King’s excellent interviews. I know that I am often “waiting or almost expecting” bad behavior from one of my horses who is a very quick thinker. My redirecting him afterwards has been reinforcing him to act this way. Whoa! My mind has been expanded here. My horse is already thanking me for watching this video!

  9. Very interesting,especially the negative response idea.I am just about to start on some ground work,Long raining on a four year old thoughbreed that we have adopted.He was removed from a very bad situation by the Irish welfare and have had to go back to baby steps as he was physically and mentally damaged.He is so good now l don’t won’t to mess up with him.Thankyou. Helen .

    1. Hi Helen, it sounds like you have put so much work into him – I hope you both can continue to grow in your relationship together. I wish you the best luck going forward!

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. Thank you for your wonderful work, Callie. Improving training practices is the one thing we can do to make the human world a better place for horses. Your fan base is so awesome in that respect.

    1. Thank you for the interview, Patricia! It is our pleasure to bring it to our community 🙂

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  11. Bravo — wonderful, informative interview.
    Using positive reinforcement with my horses has been life-changing for me.

    1. Amy, I’m glad you enjoyed the interview! Positive reinforcement is an incredible tool! 🙂

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. Really enjoyed the video! It would be so fun to spend some time with her and learn from her as she works with these mustangs taking into account the difference between feral horses and domesticated horses.

  13. Amazing and interesting interview! I will be looking for published books by Patricia. I discovered clicker training through CRK training, and it has been a profound training tool for my mares success. Thanks for sharing great information!

  14. This was fascinating. I really enjoyed how much I learned in this insightful informative interview. I will be checking out Dr. Irick’s books.

  15. Thanks for this! I just ordered her book – can’t wait to dig in! I’m guessing that I’ll be smiling while my brain hurts…

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