Can Positive Reinforcement Training Work in Horse Sport?

Can Positive Reinforcement Training Work in Horse Sport?

You’ve probably heard of positive reinforcement training in the context of training dogs or other animals, but what about for horses? Over the years, the use of positive reinforcement in the equestrian world has drawn attention and interest, but most of us are still unaware of exactly how this training works and how it can fit into our own training and riding. 

There’s actually a lot of science backing this type of training, and it’s used to train countless species of animals in a way that promotes happy, feel-good hormones and in turn, lower levels of fear and anxiety in the training process. So, is it time we see more of it in the horse world? 

Shawna Karrasch is a pioneer in the use of positive reinforcement training in horses after extensive experience researching and practicing it as a trainer of marine mammals. She has now helped countless riders and trainers understand the science behind R+ raining, which perhaps most notably helped Beezie Madden’s ride, Judgement ISF, overcome his fear of the water jump. 

In this episode, Shawna and host Caroline Culbertson (@caroline.culbertson) discuss:

They discuss: 

  • The two major components of positive reinforcement training: the brain and body
  • Why R+ training can elicit an eye roll from some trainers in the industry, and where the negative stereotypes come from
  • How you can borrow the essence of this training in a way that works for you
  • How the training can work in the most competitive realms of horse sport 




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