Praise Pat - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Praise Pat

When a horse does good and you give them a pat on the neck or shoulder, do most horses actually know that you are praising them? I was just wondering cause I always pat after anything good my horse does, and I don't plan on stopping, but I was just wondering if they know that means they did good?

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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post #2 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 01:18 PM
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I think so :) However, my old 4-h instructor got mad at me when I did. She said it was mean and that you should only rub them... haha I'm no longer in her group, she was more than just a little weird.

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post #3 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 01:24 PM
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I pat or rub. Not like a whamming thwack, mind, just a nice pat and verbal praise. Since both horses have demonstrated a tendency to get nippy if you give them treats, I use this sort of praise as a reward, and I do think they realise it means "good job".
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post #4 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 01:38 PM
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I always stroke my horse's neck and pet him to reward him. It also releases the contact which helps his neck build muscle and teaches him to stay collected on my seat.
I got told off by a clinician once for patting my horse she said something to the effect of "you can do that in the barn, just praise him with your voice" and I was very close to telling her to shove it. I just ignored it lol. It makes him more confident and it's his normal reward. He does relax when I pet him.
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post #5 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 01:42 PM
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I rub the horse I work with because patting freaks him out, and i pat my actual horse, I think they understand because they repeat the behaviours I praise them for.
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post #6 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 02:59 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I especially pat if something spooked them and I want them to help them to chill. It seems to help because then they know you are there for them.

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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post #7 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 03:12 PM
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I think that if you really want to reward your horse for good behavior you should give them a release and leave them alone. I never pat because there is not alot of difference between a smack and a pat. I may once in a while give a horse a rub and after every ride I give them a good scratchin' but I think most horses could care less about rubbing or patting. If you want your horse to perform and reward them for good behavior give the horse a release of pressure.

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post #8 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 03:52 PM
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My horse is very much soothed by a soft, reassuring always calms him when something is happening that is scaring or confusing him and he clearly sees it as a reward when he does something good.
I think the main thing that horses respond to is the positive energy (through body language) that we send them as we pet or pat them, not just the action or feeling of the petting alone. Usually when we pet a horse we are also happy and calm and sending them a feeling of thanks for something they did or just in general, which is something they understand.

I definitely agree with kevin about the release of pressure as the ultimate reward. Often I'll do them both together in that first I'll take off the pressure, give him a quick rub and a big good boy, and then leave him alone for a bit/turn around or take a few steps away if I'm on the ground. Seems to work out pretty well.

I think petting definitely works out much better than treats do in most cases...treats tend to make nippy brats out of good citizens in my experience.
One thing I don't like, though, is the hard smacks some riders are seen doing after a successful test in shows..the ones you can really hear. I can see why the enthusiasm and excitement from the good ride would increase your energy, but I would just think that a lot of horses would feel like they just got slapped for doing something bad..

Last edited by rocky pony; 04-04-2010 at 03:55 PM.
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post #9 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 03:55 PM
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I don't pat often I do sometimes but mostly just release the pressure of the job and that is a reward for them
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post #10 of 24 Old 04-04-2010, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah release of pressure seems really good. I have to practice bending a lot with my horse because he always looks the wrong way around turns, so its a lot of pressure on his neck and sides to move him the way hes supposed to, so when he actually does it I'll let him relax for a few yards and a soft pat on the shoulder and a "Good boy" haha

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man. ~Winston Churchill
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