Reinforcement: An outcome a horse receives which increases the likelihood that a response will occur again.
Following a behaviour with a reinforcer (an outcome or a payoff) will cause it to happen again. Do it again and a habit is born. Something to consider: We can intentionally or unintentionally back up a horse’s action if he receives a payoff for it. A good trainer will make sure that every correct answer results in reinforcement so it’ll happen again. Hmmm…think of the ways novice or distracted or misinformed riders can reinforce bad behaviour…
Next week I’ll talk about the types of reinforcement we use. Until then, let’s be thinking riders!