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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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?
 

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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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.
 

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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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My horse is very much soothed by a soft, reassuring touch..it 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..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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
 

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I ALWAYYYS pat Oscar lol:p
As others said it makes him more confident:D
 

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I never pat because there is not alot of difference between a smack and a pat.
thats what i have been told and since i have started rubbing or stroking, alot of diffference in behaviour. But yes, i stroke rub or praise verbally when he does something good.
 

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I rub, give them a "good girl/boy", and release pressure. She knows its her reward if I release pressure and give her a break for awhile. It tells her that "yes, I know you didn't want to do what i asked for but you did it so now you can have a break."
 

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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.
My trainer always made fun of me because I would pat Ri after each class. She said i was slapping him so loud you could hear it across the ring and then I read in a John Lyons book that you shouldn't pat becuase it's more like a smack, but you should rub (or stroke) so that is what I've been doing....
 

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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.

but I think most horses could care less about rubbing or patting.
Interesting.

I ride with a lot of folks who are very exuberant about a good run. The horses receive very enthusiastic 'pats'. The horses all preen with the praise.
 

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I give my horse a little rub on his wither area. It's a good spot because I can reward him without changing my hand position or contact. If he's learning something new, I can just reach down with my pinkies and give him a scratch to let him know he's doing it correctly or at least making an effort.
 

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This may sound a bit crazy to people, but I've found that many horses respond off the voice and the emotion more than the actual contact. I've found with students, that to tell them to give the horse a scratch on the neck for praise does several different things that lead to the praise of the horse. The first thing that it does is relax the rider. Whenever you see someone give praise, their whole attitude changes, they are often smiling or laughing, happy, and relaxed. Those are the things that the horse feels and responds to the best. The respond to the tone of your voice and the meaning behind what you are saying more than the word itself.

I don't have any rules as far as praising my own horses. I usually tell students to praise more to relax their own riding and that is the reward to the horse. For any horse that I ride, the reward is in the riding, not in the task at hand. No, I am not that full of myself, but I do work with corrective riding for the horse, where its not so much about teaching them what they can do as far as obedience, but rather how they can feel better doing it. For a horse that is learning the basics, like Keving said, the reward is in the release.
 

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I release the inside rein and stroke his mid neck when I can, but if I can't at the moment then I have to settle for softly patting his shoulder/wither area. My horse is quite sensitive, and harshly patting him would only irritate him. I'll also say good boy etc at times.
 

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I always pat or rub (usually rub) my horse (or any horse) I'm riding after they do a good job. My mare always lowers her head and deeply exhales :)

I've read somewhere that with all animals, rubbing/stroking is much better than patting because it's similar to the motion of their mothers licking them. But I don't think SOFT patting is bad, but when it starts to sound like a clap...you might wanna be a little more gentle LOL
 
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