Holistic Horsemanship and Training

Haven Horsemanship promotes science based, holistic horsemanship and training. Holistic horsemanship means working with the whole horse and the whole human; Honoring both Horses and Humans as a species and as individuals. We focus on addressing and evolving each horse and rider mentally, emotionally and physically, both as individuals and as partners.


Humans and our horses are each a complex and unique combination of our emotions, our thoughts, our beliefs and our behaviors. At Haven Horsemanship, we believe that it is important to address and evolve all of these areas. We do this by applying knowledge of equine behavior and psychology, the mental and emotional skills from life coaching, and the use of a psychometric tool called Emergenetics that captures how we and our horses think, problem solve and communicate and knowledge about operant conditioning, how all living things learn, and the use of positive reinforcement/reward based training as the most humane and effective means of learning.

Haven Horsemanship strongly believes in science-based, holistic training for horses, which means Honoring Horses as a species and as individuals and knowing and applying the operant conditioning quadrants at appropriate times. According to the humane hierarchy, that means training behaviors primarily with positive reinforcement training, the most popular version being clicker training. Ari has been experimenting with clicker training for over five years and has enjoyed success unattainable with traditional methods. In clicker training, your horse first learns to associate the sound of a mechanical click (or another sound, like snapping) with a food reward. The click is then used to pin point desired behavior in your horse and your horse is rewarded for that behavior. Clicker training revitalizes your horse’s curiosity and desire to explore and problem solve.

Ari originally applied clicker training in “problem areas” with horses, but has now diversified her application of clicker training to her day to day work with horses. She has applied clicker training in the following areas:

  • gaining confidence with feet being handled and trimmed

  • first time saddling

  • first time riding

  • gaining confidence under saddle at all gaits

  • gaining confidence on trail rides

  • motivation to go forward and return to the handler

  • trailer loading

  • trust building through obstacles


If you’re interested in clicker training and would like to come and see the method demonstrated, Ari is happy to schedule demonstrations with her own horses, or to come and introduce clicker training to you and your horse.

History of Operant Conditioning

Clicker training has been in use since the mid 1900s, but it didn’t really catch on until the 1980s and 1990s, particularly for training dogs and wild animals. Clicker training operates on the principles of operant conditioning, originally discussed by B.F. Skinner in 1938. Operant conditioning is a type of training where behavior is encouraged or discouraged by rewards and consequences. The key concepts of operant conditioning are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment. The terms can be confusing, but we will simplify them and define them in terms of working with horses below:

  1. Positive reinforcement: something “pleasant” is added when the desired behavior occurs (clicker training)

  2. Negative reinforcement: something “unpleasant” is removed when the desired behavior occurs (traditional pressure and release training)

  3. Positive punishment: something “unpleasant” is added when an undesired behavior occurs (a correction)

  4. Negative punishment: something “pleasant” is removed when an undesired behavior occurs (taking feed away because a horse is pawing)


Clicker training capitalizes on positive reinforcement. It promptly and precisely pin points desired behavior and gives your horse incentive to repeat the desired behavior, resulting in speedy learning. Clicker training helps keep a horse in the parasympathetic nervous system function (a relaxed state that amplifies learning) as well as developing a horse’s “seeking system.” A horse’s seeking system is their curiosity, their desire to explore and their desire to problem solve. 

Approximately 1 Hour Session Options:

  • At Haven Horsemanship with a member of the Haven Herd: $50 or less depending on package purchased.

  • At your location around Reno or Carson City: $50 for Washoe Valley, $75 for north Carson City and South Reno, $100 for south Carson City or North Reno. I can travel further, further travel fees apply.

  • Virtual Coaching: $40 or less depending on package purchased.


  • Internships are available for those who are a good fit, ranging from a weekend, to several weeks, and/or periodical visits. Contact Ari to further discuss internships.


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