Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quote of the Day (or week or whatever)

The Carrot vs the Stick (from Horse and Rider)

Punishment as a training tool "should become obsolete," says clinician John Lyons. "It's unnecessary and counter-productive... When he isn't getting somethign you're trying to teach him, he's already unhappy. Punishing him at this point is backward thinking, and just causes anxiety...

"Think of it another way: If your boss only yelled at you whenever you made a mistake, and never praised you for doing something correctly, pretty soon you wouldn't want to go to work at all.

"It's the same for your horse."

(below excerpted from a conversation at the barn)

Me: Okay, what do YOU think? Frankly after my alpha mare episode, I'm a believer in a little stick - not punishment in the old cowboy sense, but certainly some attitude... If it's all carrots, it just doesn't seem to work...

Canyon (interrupting): Actually you just aren't using enough carrots.

Me: oh give me a break.

Lily: He's absolutely right. More carrots.

Canyon: I'm pretty sure you can get them in bulk.

Lily: And cookies. I'm good with cookies too.

Me: Cut it OUT! Back to the round pen!


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I had an equitation trainer last summer who forced me to smack my horse with a whip each time he spooked. I hated doing that, but the man would yell at me and refuse to continue the lesson until I punished the horse. The horse did spook less, but that still doesn't mean that whipping was the right response. All the reading I've been doing lately says that whipping a horse for spooking only teaches it that there really is something to fear. I told this man I would continue my riding lessons this summer, but I'm really hesitant because of this one issue. I may have to talk to him first and come to an agreement that I will not punish my horse at his command if he wants to keep me as a student.

Breathe said...

I think your instinct is right on. I can see focusing your horse when they spook - or better yet, getting them to confront their spook. But hitting? That doesn't make sense to me either.

Grey Horse Matters said...

The quote is a good one. We need to work with our horses as a team and listen to them and what they are trying to tell us. In training horses we train ourselves, I always feel the key to having a good rider/horse team is using basic common sense and mutual respect.