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Psychology of Learning - Set Your Horse Up for Success!

"So much of our conventional thinking must be tweaked, if not reversed. We must reassess our views on the weight of past influence and current adaptation."
—Stephen J. Gould, Harvard University

The Osierlea approach to horse training and rehab is based on an understanding not only of the horse's biomechanics, but also its nature and learning processes. When training a horse or rider, we consider how to improve the techniques and tactics applied by the rider, as well as the psychology of learning for both the horse and the rider.

Psychology of Learning

The psychology of learning involves such things as:

» How to Set Your Horse Up for Success
» How to Tempt Your Horse into Experimentation
» How Much to Ask from Your Horse
» What to Settle for (Short-Term)
» When and How to Reward (How Long to Go on and When to Call It a Day)
» How to Decide When to "Call It a Yes" and When to "Call It a No"
» How to Make Corrections That Will Help Your Horse's Learning Process
» When to Go Back to the Life Learning List and Reevaluate

Horses Do

» Think Only in Linear Terms - This, Then This, Then This
» Think in Black and White or "Yes" and "No" - They Do Not Understand "Kind of" or "Yes, But..."
» Learn Only in Retrospect - They Have No Foreknowledge
» Learn Complicated Responses by Patterning and Experimentation
» Learn Complicated Things Best When the Components Are Taught Independently and Consecutively

Horses Do Not

» Have a Clue What We Want
» Have the Slightest Interest in Pleasing Us
» Have the Slightest Interest in Displeasing Us
» Intentionally Set Out to Be Obstructive or Resistant - They Do What Works
» Think Laterally, Outside the Box, or Intuitively

Joe's Approval

Eleanor Johnson and Samson (Dutch Warmblood) Riding Prix St. GeorgeEllie Brown and Samson (Dutch Warmblood) Riding Prix St. George


Technique is riding style. It refers to the rider's biomechanics, use of aids, learned responses of the horse, and the mechanical influences of the rider.


Tactic is the use of movements, exercises, figures, and patterns to teach the horse. If the rider lacks good technique, then even the best tactic will fail.