Positive Reinforcement Trainer and Behaviorist

Shawna is a pioneer in the use of Positive Reinforcement Training with horses. Her powerful and humane behavioral training techniques are an eye-opening experience for equine professionals, competitors, and amateurs alike. She has produced books and videos, and traveled worldwide to teach the concepts of bridge conditioning and positive reinforcement for horses.

Shawna began her training career far outside the equestrian world, working with large marine mammals. Animals such as dolphins, sea lions and orcas cannot be coerced. Only positive reinforcement methods can be used to ask these magnificent creatures to participate voluntarily in activities with human trainers. (You may be able to force a horse onto a trailer, but just try it with a walrus!)

When introduced to the world of top equestrian competition, Shawna saw immediately how reward-based training could be used to engage the horse’s willingness in equestrian pursuits. A number of years ago, top trainer John Madden was so impressed with Shawna’s early results that the world-renowned training facility at the Madden farm became the testing ground for adapting Positive Reinforcement Training for horses.

By using Shawna’s Positive Reinforcement Training methods, Olympian Beezie Madden taught her famous show jumper Judgment (now Judgment ISF) to overcome his fear of water and go on to win the $1,000,000 CN International at Spruce Meadows, among many other international show-jumping victories. Beezie’s spectacular success over decades as a top international competitor on a series of great horses is a testament not only to her extraordinary talent and skill as a rider and trainer, but also in part to the reward-based training system that Shawna first developed on the Madden farm.

Shawna’s infectious enthusiasm, sense of humor, years of training experience and rapport with animals and humans makes her one of the finest positive-reinforcement trainers in North America.

Photo of Shawna (top) by Cathrin Cammett Photography