Horse training with positive reinforcement


Here at Tenerife Horse Rescue we are firm believers of building a strong relationship with your horse. And we believe this comes down to horse training with positive reinforcement as well as communication with horses. We are asking them to do things for us, so it is our role, its only fair that we take the time to learn their language and understand what they are saying to us....

Currently I don't have time however to write in depth about this on our website so I have found some very easy to understand basics of equine communication as follows..... to read the entire article please click on the picture of our beautiful Canaria pictured right.



Communication with horses: How to Read Your Horse's Body Language

Subtle changes in your horse's posture, expression and movements can provide important clues to what he is thinking. Chances are pretty good you understand what your horse is saying when he nickers as you bring him his feed. The meaning of a pinned ear and cocked hind hoof are also pretty obvious. But not all equine communication is quite so clear. Do you know what a clamped tail indicates? What a foal is saying when he clacks his teeth? Even more importantly, can you recognize subtle signs of fear or frustration before they escalate into a blowup?

Because people rely so much on verbal communication, it's natural to focus on a horse's vocalizations when trying to figure out what he is saying. But like many animals, horses communicate much more through postures, gestures and expressions than they do with their vocal cords. Keep an eye on body language of a horse, especially a horse hoof, ears, lips and nostrils.

The ability to read and respond to this horse body language is what sets great trainers apart from the rest. From a distance, it may look like these experts are "mind reading," but in reality, they're noticing and responding to the subtlest of cues from the horse, both on the ground as well as in the saddle.

Riding Bitless on rescue horses.

Transitioning from fear trained bitted and abused horses to rescued, bitless horses whilst only using positive reinforcement.

Because all of our horses are rescued and no longer have a job to do, they need only to exercise enough to keep them fit and healthy. We believe in retraining them with a voice, we train ourselves into being able to understand their language and what they like and dislike. We want to make riding a purely pleasurable experience for them and give them the choice in hope that they want to ride with us. With this we have chosen to ride our horses only bitless, this is a very controversial topic in the horse world, we try not to offend but we are strong believers that this is the right way for our horses, we need no force to be able to ask our horses to go the way we wish. So far we have had no difficulties at all in transitioning from bitted to bitless horses.


Positive Horsemanship

We would like to show people there is another way in training - positive reinforcement and encourage people to come and see for themselves that our horses are still very well behaved, safe and responsive. But the best bit is they are happy to do what you wish and we pride ourselves in creating mutual bonds and relationships allowing us all to have fun horse riding in a safe relaxed way without the need for any type of force.

We talk more about healing from within in our blog post.

Positive Reinforcement horse training +R

When our horses come to us they are often scared, beaten, shut down empty shells or they could be hiding pain and working like a robot.


Each case is very different and you can read about some of the specific cases on "meet the horses" but what we do for every case is strip them back to the basics and try to restart their training again. Maybe they have fears they need to forget or just learn they have a choice now, whatever the reason, we do it in the same way and start from the ground.


We want each of our horses to build a relationship with us and learn to trust humans. The best bonds and riding partners come from happiness and mutual respect and this is exactly what we achieve through positive reinforcement techniques. This can be a very long slow process and some horses respond much quicker than others, but with time and patience we will get there with each one. I have attached a link to a great description of positive reinforcement training which you can reach by clicking on the picture right.

A short video doing target training with our horse Quarentino