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Positive reinforcement isn’t just important for your horse at the barn or for your dog at home. Positive reinforcement works for you too and it can make your riding better and the learning process a lot more fun.

You don’t even have to change the way your riding instructor teaches. You can use positive reinforcement on yourself.

Last week, we talked about reinforcements and how understanding what a reinforcement is and how it influences our horse’s behavior is key to good training. But reinforcements affect our behavior in the same way.

Remember a reinforcement is something that increases a behavior, or makes us do more of what we were doing. A reinforcement can be something good coming our way, like a treat or praise, or it can be something bad going away – the removal of any type of pressure.

As humans, praise is a big reinforcement for us. We like to know we are doing a good job, and we can use this to our advantage when we’re learning.


In today’s video, you’re going to hear about three different studies that looked at the effects of positive reinforcement on learning and in interactions between people. (If you’re spending time with family over the holidays, this could be a very important video for you…)

Hit play to learn how you can use positive reinforcement to improve your riding.

Here is your challenge for the comments – tell me at least one thing that you are really good at! It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant you think it is, start looking for the positive!

See you in the comments,


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15 Responses

  1. Very astute insights, Callie! I’m going to try to reinforce my learning in the way you suggest. I think balance between the two poles, recognizing areas that still need work and recognizing accomplishments, without self recrimination for not yet achieved and self-praise for what has been achieved, is key to making progress. I’m finally beginning to understand this in my old age and my riding is starting to move off the plateau I was on for years.

  2. Thanks for this video! I just came back from a lesson, where I felt not much went right. It was a great reminder to think of the positives and not dwell on the areas that need improvement.

  3. I’m ashamed to say I’m a negative person when it comes to my riding. I find faults before I find something positive about myself. Good video Callie and I know I have to work on this. My horse is a good boy and he seems to know this and he puts up with me (God bless him). 🙂

  4. Thank you. I discovered your videas recently. The seven day free course was just spot on. I’m learning so much and it complements the riding lessons I have here in Brittany. I am LOVING being back in the saddle, with horses, firstly after a long, long break (from age 25 to age 59) and secondly after a serious fall where I broke my heel, and had to learn to walk myself all over again. But now I feel so relaxed and so happy on horseback, with a perfect riding centre who specialise in endurance riding, and all their horses live out all year. I started looking at all kinds of learning videos and truly yours are the ones which help me the most. So Merry Christmas to you and many grateful thanks.

  5. I have been working really hard on ground work with my new horse. Several people at the ranch where I board have noticed how far my mare has come. You know what that means? I am doing well at accomplishing what I set out to do. I am proud of myself for getting this far!

    Thanks Callie for making me recognize my triumphs!

  6. Thank you Callie for another great video and helping us to remember to focus on the good and positive things during our rides rather than to dwell and focus on the negative. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Looking forward to more fun, instruction and improvement in 2017.

  7. nice one Callie,
    thanks as always for posting your videos, always gratefully received!!
    your timing is impeccable, reaches me just when I need it!!

  8. Callie, your timing for me is perfect because I on 12/22 just had a bad fall and broke 5 ribs in 9 places and have a pneumothorax. A bad canter transition and she (my 7 yo TB) was way to fast and on wrong lead. My first horse from 3 months ago and obviously we have a ways to go. But, I have been struggling with not berating myself for not doing things well. And I do believe in the positive and so I had started working with my instructor to focus on what I am doing right instead of what I was doing wrong. Though I won’t be riding for several months, I plan to do ground work once I can move around better and again focus on the positive. So I am interested in your ground work exercises. Thanks,

  9. Thank you for another wonderful video Callie! I just bought my first horse after 25 years out of the saddle-all or nothing! My husband got me a beautiful journal for Christmas to write down all the positive things that happen after each ride or grooming session or interaction with my horse. This is help build up my confidence and new relationship. Your video has just reinforced this idea. Hope 2017 is even better than 2016 for you and yours x

    1. Hi Leilani,
      There is a search bar on the bottom of the page, you can use that to search for a topic. Sometimes I talk through through things off the horse and sometimes I ride – depends on how I feel I can best explain the topic. Which do you prefer?

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