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Rewarding horse when schooling dressage

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  • Rewarding horse when schooling dressage

    I was wondering this today as i was riding. Dressage is so meticulous and sometimes the changes we have to make are very slight. I am interested to hear what other have to say. How do you let the horse know that they have done what you wanted them to do?

    Many people are taught that when the horse does the right thing they are rewarded by less pressure or resistance. You can also give them a pat here or there, release the inside rein, etc. Do you consider this to be enough for your horse?

    Then there is the question of how many times do you have to repeat something so that the horse really knows it? repeatedly drilling a movement in the ring might get a good result, but where is the reward here? On the other hand, does the horse really know that the movement was done right if you "reward" the horse by quitting soon after you get the right answer?

  • #2
    I guess I reward by a "good boy Gus" - vocally. For whatever reason he seems to think this is a cue to STOP doing whatever it was he was doing... needless to say, I do the "good boy Gus" followed up with lots of leg . Depending on what we're doing and if I for sure don't want him to back off, I'll often scratch the withers. It's easy to do and don't require me to drop reins/contact. He seems to know that that means too.
    Proud owner of Gus & Gringo.
    See G2's blog


    • #3
      Praise, pats, treats, relaxing walk, stopping a session. It all depends on how hard the horse works and how easily he responded to my cues. If I'm teaching something new, I only repeat until the horse seems to get it without trying too hard. If things don't go correctly and we're struggling too much, I move onto something else and either try again later in the session or wait for another day.


      • #4
        When I'm teaching something new, I make a big deal if the horse gets it. I verbally praise, or pat, and stop the exercise. If the horse does it right or at least tries the first time, I stop. I'll pick it up again at another time. Once the horse starts to know it, I will reward with a walk break instead of ending the ride. I have found that many horses really remember, and are much more apt to view something as a positive experience if they are rewarded with a break afterwards or the ride stops. This approach works phenomenally well for my current horse.

        If the horse repeatedly doesn't get something, I do something else to better prepare the horse for success. If the horse tries in any way, I praise and maybe stop. I try to train for the long-term, not for what I can produce that day

        I have also been known to ride with sugar cubes and reward hard work with a cube from the saddle.

        If I'm reaffirming something the horse already knows, I might do it 2-3 times, but I try not to drill. I drill only if there's a point I feel I need to make in that ride and my horse is blowing me off.

        That all said, I know there are some horses who challenge the rider. For those horses, stopping is equivalent to telling the horse that it won. At the end of the day, I think it depends on the horse.

        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


        • #5
          Sometimes we quit for the day (learning new skills) with LOTS of praise.

          Sometimes it's treats. (he'll just about roll over and play dead for a lump of sugar, and i have no shame, I *use* that to my advantage!) Have to be careful or you get X-Halt-Salute-touch toe to ask for sugar cube...

          Sometimes it's just verbal, and I know this sounds goofy, but I try to really project my pleasure/pride/joy to him. How proud I am of him for trying and getting it.
          InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

          Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


          • #6
            inside rein release, Good Mare, pat, quit altogether (when something big clicks)

            I firmly believe in praise especially with Trixie...it's about the only thing that works...

            She gets very defensive when 'punished'/corrected...definitley works against me...I just have to be sure I'm correct with aids.


            • #7
              I usually do pretty much what J-Lu does. It does all depend on the horse though. Just like people, some need more feedback than others.
              Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!


              • #8
                My horse loves to be rewarded verbally with GOOOOD BOY! or ATTA BOOOOY! When he's worked particularly hard at something, he gets the verbal praise along with a walk break and some gentle pats and rubs. I never give treats from the saddle for the very reason that pintopiaffe mentioned.
                Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.


                • #9
                  I definitely release the inside rein and stroke his neck with it, and say "Good boy!!!!!" - this type of praise easily transfers to the show ring when it becomes a much more subtle giving of the inside rein (or rubbing his neck with my inside hand in a subtle way, preferably when the judge can't see).


                  • #10
                    By saying the word "Good". The horse soon learns this is praise and you can mutter it under your breath while in the show ring. Also stopping on a good note helps. All the above posts are helpful.


                    • #11
                      MIne love wither scritches and its easy to give them while working. I reward with a scrtich for good efforts, if its a bigger moment it gets a good boy too and a lightbulb gets a srcitch,good boy and long rein break and a stop work if the time is right.
                      With a few greenies on the go at the moment I am doing loads of scritching and praising. Its so good when they 'get' something.


                      • #12
                        On new or difficult things I verbally praise, sometimes enthusiastically, and sometimes come to walk, for a minute or two. On an old hat, nothing new movement, a quick neck scratch, or pat is sufficient.
                        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                        • #13
                          I try (!) not to do it by throwing my contact away
                          But yes, verbally, walk breaks if appropriate, ueberstreichen, etc.
                          "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ride-n-tx View Post
                            How do you let the horse know that they have done what you wanted them to do?
                            Often I do nothing instead of 'something' which to a horse is a reward. Or I say very quietly, "Good". And sometimes offer a break depending on what I"m schooling.

                            Originally posted by ride-n-tx View Post
                            Many people are taught that when the horse does the right thing they are rewarded by less pressure or resistance. You can also give them a pat here or there, release the inside rein, etc. Do you consider this to be enough for your horse?
                            100% yes. Horses can feel the instant Harmony when they give the correct answer. For those seconds or minutes all is right in the world. Doing it right feels good because there is no resistance between horse and rider.

                            Originally posted by ride-n-tx View Post
                            Then there is the question of how many times do you have to repeat something so that the horse really knows it? repeatedly drilling a movement in the ring might get a good result, but where is the reward here? On the other hand, does the horse really know that the movement was done right if you "reward" the horse by quitting soon after you get the right answer?
                            This comes into rider judgment and that thing we talk about. ~FEEL~
                            You have to know when to do it one more time or when to quit. And you have to know how much to ask for and how little to take as acceptable.
                            You have to know your horse, how he moves, how he feels when he is really trying and how he feels when he is slacking off.
                            Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                              On new or difficult things I verbally praise, sometimes enthusiastically
                              totally agree here.

                              I'm currently schooling changes. When I feel him change in mid air I'm telling him he's the most amazing SOB that I've ever sat on. (direct quote from my coach who had to teach ME to make a big deal of it) lol. It's tough for him because he's a control freak and I think he feels out of control for a few seconds.
                              To give him confidence. A confident horse is unbeatable.

                              Other than that I am quiet-ish. Quiet enough that the judge cannot hear me. ; )

                              Funny thing. My horse has learned that when I buckle over and giggle he has done something really fun and correct!
                              Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by ride-n-tx View Post
                                How do you let the horse know that they have done what you wanted them to do?
                                Depending on how major it was- I usually give the inside rein and pet him at the withers- kind of gently scratch him- which he loves. If it's a major thing- I let him off the hook, transition to walk- through the reins away and praise him loudly.

                                I tend to talk when I ride- so we are in constant verbal connection. Top reward for something superbly done is a sugar- given on the right side (used to be his stiffer side). He knows that he's top dog then- and we usually proceed to go on a nice trail walk....!
                                "the man mite be the head but the woman is the neck and the neck can turn the head any way she wants..." -smart greek woman


                                • #17
                                  I am a talker... I hope not too annoying, but, a talker I am. I give verbal praise for REALLY good work, when he is learning something new (I make a big fuss) and even if it is something minor, my boy LOVES to hear "Good Boy". Must be a man thing. Anyway, when I do that, I also give, release, pat, scratch, stop the work session for the day or some combo of the above. Frodo gets it, he knows when he has been good, it is amazing how quickly he learns. He really does need a sign that says:

                                  _______| Wiil Work For |
                                  _______| "GOOD BOY!" |
                                  _______ *
                                  ~Amy~ TrakehNERD clique
                                  *Bugs 5/86-3/10 OTTB Mare* RIP lovely Lady, I miss you
                                  *Frodo '03 Anglo Trakehner Gelding*
                                  My Facebook


                                  • #18
                                    your voice is your biggest asset and aid, how you use your voice and tones of voice the horse knows if hes done well or not added with a pat or a scratch and free rein walk

                                    if i have practiced and the horse has got it right then i leave it there and leave on a good note
                                    so when the horse is left alone ie in his stable he can sleep on it praze him well enough the horse will know that want i want from him
                                    and i dont go over the same thing every day- and continuely school in a school and od it over and over and over agian it becomes boring for the horse so they switch off

                                    i hack out a lot, and school outside ie down a quiet lane -- ie schoulder in or leg yields etc
                                    as its more relaxing for the horse they love going out they love to work
                                    so when they brought back in they are more focused and enjoy it

                                    and we shouldnt thave to work hard than the horse trying to get xyz