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Beginners Guide to Horse Training by Yates
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Horse Training: Did Your Horse Spill the Paint?

by: Andy Curry

In the past, I've emailed a lot of info where I describe key principles in horse training.

One I like to harp on is the prin- ciple of "kindness."

Instinctively, most understand the kindness thing. After all, why be cruel to your horse.

Even though that's a given, that's not the principle reason I preach about being kind to your horse.

When I say "treat your horse with kindness" the importance in training is this:

When a horse does as you ask, he should be rewarded with kindness such as a carress on the point of shoulder or forehead.

The thing a lot of people don't get is kindness with punishment. (When I say punish- ment, I don't mean whipping or hitting a horse. Punishment "ONLY" refers to negative reinforce- ment which can be as light as an abrasive tone of voice.)

When a horse needs corrected through negative reinforcement then it's my practice to almost immediately follow up with kindness such as caressing.

The reason is to keep a horse's con- fidence up and principally to reinforce you're still his buddy...even though he did something wrong.

Here's a good story that'll reinforce my point.

About 9 years ago, I moved into another house. My son and I went to get it ready for the move in. At the time, he was around 3 years old.

While I was cleaning parts of the house he was running about.

We were just about ready to leave when I noticed the carpet didn't look right in my bedroom.

I checked it out and found paint had been spilled on it. It was wet and fresh.

Upset, I called him in the bedroom and angrily asked, "DID YOU DO THAT?!!!"

After hearing my tone, he knew he was in trouble. He was nervous. (Hmmm, just like a horse)


Within seconds he started crying. It broke my heart that I had broke his.

Immediately and with extrememe compassion and heartfelt words I said, "I'm not mad at you anymore."

The crying ceased in a few seconds except for the occassional gasps of air he needed to settle himself.

The lesson was, he needed to know he made a mistake but more importantly he needed to know I still loved and approved of him. Had I not countered the negative reinforcement, I think it would've been injurious down the road.

And that's how I see it with horses. You should make sure they're loved and approved of even if they "spilled the paint." For if they continue to feel a little afraid and uneasiness, it'll be harder to train 'em.

But one has to be careful in timing the kindness because you could reinforce the wrong behavior.

For instance, if you go to catch your horse and he runs from you but finally lets you catch him...and then when you catch him, pet him, then say "Good boy" you teach him to run from you.

Why? Because he learns he'll get petted and told he's a good boy "after" he runs from you and later gets caught.

Paul Esh, a featured trainer from, tells on his video why this is so important.

It's amazing what you can learn from different horse trainers because each has there unique things they do.

That's why SuperStars of Horse Training exists. You learn from the best of the best of horse trainers. What they do with horses you can too after see what they show you.

To learn more go to:


About The Author

Andy Curry is a nationally known horse trainer and author of several best selling horse training and horse care books. He is also well known for finding, interviewing, and filming expert horse trainers and making their expertise available to horse owners who want to learn different horse training tips and secrets and how to solve behaviorial issues with horses. For information visit his website at