Using Positive Reinforcement to Overcome a Horse’s Separation Anxiety

When using positive reinforcement we can help our horses to overcome separation anxiety much easier than without the use of a desirable reinforcer. Think about traditional training, what is in it for your horse? Why would he want to overcome his fear? When we put something into the training equation that our horses truly value, we give them much more motivation to address their fears. They become invested in the training equation (and the outcome) no matter what the task might be. You may practice the exercise that I mentioned in the video, with traditional tasks like grooming or leading or you may use some of the tools associated with positive reinforcement training, like targeting or any other behavior you have trained using positive reinforcement. I would suggest that if your horse is unfamiliar with positive reinforcement training that you start him and get a good foundation started before you address the separation anxiety issue, or any other stressful behavior for that matter. Our horses are always making choices and they will choose the behavior with the strongest reinforcement history. So, by teaching a behavior and building a strong positive reinforcement history we will help them want to choose the learned or constructive behavior over other, less desirable behaviors. This only begins to scratch the surface but it gives you the idea. This concept also applies when another horse is taken away from the herd and your horse is left behind. If you want to join a community of positive reinforcement trainers or learn more about the training go to : www.connectiontraining.com

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On Target Training, Shawna Karrasch

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