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"What is the fine line between punishment and abuse"

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   April 9, 2012 19:06

Trick Training Philosophy "Train with Trust and Communication"

Trick training is a great way to foster a fabulous relationship with your horse.  In order to have a great relationship, you have to have great trust, and great communication. 

In order to make trick  training enjoyable and achievable by all, I train with grace, rather than force.

Jackie Johnson


A question was posed "What is the fine line between punishment and abuse"


The only book that I have ever seen that succinctly addressed the topic of punishment is "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider In the Principles of Classical Horsemanship", written by Alois Podhajsky who states: "Any punishment is wrong if the knowledgeable onlooker is unable to understand for what reason the punishment was administered. And in such a case, how would the horse know why he is punished? The rider with high ambitions and little knowledge will be more inclined to revert to punishment than the more experienced rider. He will try to obtain by force what he cannot achieve by the correct use of the aids....."

That said, I don't for one second pretend to be holier than anyone out there when it comes to controlling my own frustrations and emotions. To me, a relationship with a horse is like a relationship with a person. There are going to be fun times and hard times, and you're going to fight with each other and make up. When one can recognize their frustrations and inabilities as a weakness then they can educate themselves in the areas where they are weak - should they choose....and that, I think, is the line between punishment and abuse. We are all human, we all have our weaknesses, and when it comes to horses we ALL start at experience level 'Zero' we don't all have experienced masters of equitation to lead us gently through the necessary learning curves. When a person is unwilling to address their own weaknesses through education, so that they may better themselves, then their repeated acts of frustration become acts of abuse.


There is a common saying amongst dedicated horse folk that, when it comes to horses, you stop learning when you are dead, and with the modern wonders of technology, there is endless informational and educational material available right at your fingertips.  When training horses frustrations are a fact of life....but how you handle those frustrations, and your decision on prolonging those frustrations are a matter of choice.

Training Tips written by Jackie Johnson, for


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single horse driving | training