Friday, October 19, 2012

Incentive : how much is needed and when

Everyone has been in that position. Your at the barn, you see someone having a fight with their horse. The horse won't do what they want, so they're tapping them with the crop, or kicking them, squeezing them, and they end up with an hour long ride of nothing but fighting with and irritating their horse.

I am a very confident rider, so when I see this there is nothing I want more than to tell them what to do, or get on their horse and do it. However, I obviously have to use my discretion when deciding if its a good thing to offer help or what not to a fellow rider. And obviously I always present it in a less condescending way than I have in this post. Because everyone has a bad day of riding.

The solution, the way I see it, is to show them quickly that you mean business, be a tad bit harsh, and then, get along the rest of your ride.

For example, I used to ride a halflinger. He was typical pony and draft. He had attitude, he was stubborn, and he could work for hours. But, if you treated him with respect, he would give you everything he had. If you rode him long enough and the right way, he would do anything for you.

I can remember two days in particular that make a great example of what I am trying to explain.

Day one : we were fighting. He didn't wanna work, and I was having a lazy day, and because of that, he was slacking off. I would ask for a trot, he'd give me a few steps then walk. This continued for a while. I was constantly on him, kicking him, urging him, squeezing, and getting all sorts of frustrated. He was never getting a break, because he would trot stop trot stop etc. I wasn't getting a break, because even on my lazy days, I don't want to lose a simple 'keep going' battle. Do you think my horse had fun that day? I bet not.

Day two : the halflinger wasn't exactly there ready to work. He was just there. He gave me a few little 'testing me' things, but then when I asked for a lope, he picked it up then stopped. I asked again, and he did the most unbearable ugly trot ever. So what was my response? I reached my hand back and I smacked his behind as hard as I could muster. From then on out for the rest of our ride, he was an angel. Since he was so well behaved, he got lots of breaks and rubs and scratches and good boys. Do you think that maybe this ride was more enjoyable to him and me?

With that being you think that had I smacked him hard on day one he would have listened? I think in the beginning he would have, but at the end of day one he wouldn't have. He had already realized I was lazy that day. He knew he could be stubborn and I was going to basically pass our trying to get him to work. It was a game for him. (It sucks when our horses are smarter than us huh?)

The moral of my story, is that I feel like it is much more brutal to constantly be nagging on your horse, and much more humane and nice to give them a good attitude adjustment once. Because yes, I smacked him, but lets be honest, it was enough to make him go, but if a horse can withstand a horse kick, me smacking it isn't going to do any damage.

What are your thoughts?

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