Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Central Hill Country Texas
I'm a scratcher and a verbal rewarder myself, but I have had people on my horses who are rather aggressive patters.
It might be because my horses are not used to being patted, but if someone slaps them (pats aggressively) as opposed to rubbing, the ears immediately go back. Not aggressive, back, more like annoyed back with eyes wide, head high. They don't much seem to like it.
Alternatively, a soft well timed "good boy!" or a nice rub has them lowering their heads slightly with soft eyes and ears. To me it appears that the former, they see as some kind of punishment, while the latter is pleasurable, which I think a reward should really be when it is your goal to make that positive connection.
When I watch the consummate patters horses, they don't seem to have a bad response to a pat, but neither do they seem to have a good one, so I'm not sure the praise connection has been made.
“You spend your whole life with horses and just about the time you think you have them figured out, a horse comes along that tells you otherwise.” –quote from my very wizened trainer