Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Good Cop Bad Cop?

Most horse owners want the joy of having their horse love them unconditionally. Most horse owners ALSO like to be the good cop. They won't train effectively, or discipline appropriately, because they don't don't want precious ButterCup to hate them if they get stern or make her do what she doesn't want to. *Waaaaaaahh* Too bad.

So enter Bad Cop, me, any trainer or owner with a damn brain. I follow the rule of three.
  1. Ask~ Exactly that. I Ask the horse o do it first.

  2. Tell~ This time I will TELL him to do it if asking doesn't work.

  3. Demand~ No excuses, he's doing it.

I like this because it really gives the horse three chances to do as you ask. Now why is this so important? Why is necessary that I make ButterCup work when she doesn't feel like it? Or Discipline her when she being "silly." Because I'm Alpha Mare and horses aren't lap dogs.

Here's a classic example. A friend of mine bought her husband a horse. A Little 2 yr old because he wanted to help train his own horse. Now though he's having some trouble because his sweet baby horsie is so super kyooooot that if she's naughty or sassy, oh well, it's Kyooooot. Remember? Kyooot. God Damn GAG ME! There is nothing kyoot about a half ton animal pushing a 160lb man around. But he doesn't want wittle precious to not like him if he has to "punish" her. *sigh* So enter bad cop.

Now his wife gets after little sassy pants 2 yr old in the CORRECT WAYS. Sassy pants will round pen nicely, accept the bit, pick up her feet, stand quiet, you name it. BUT, only for the "bad cop."

Why? Because horses need and actually appreciate a herd leader(you). They know that "Oh shit! I can't get away with that crap with her!" So it actually makes for a stronger bond and a greater appreciation for the rewards received from bad cop. Well as it turns out the "Good Cop" husband is NOW getting frustated because little kyoot 2 yr old won't listen to him anymore.

Ahhh I know his wife had never been happier when she "HA!! Told you so!" But anyway. So now it's retraining the Good Cop that it's OK to TRAIN and teach and school your horse. Your horse will find a new and better RESPECT for you. And for that you will have a better mannered horse and a better relationship with your horse. Horses are smart, smart little devils in disguise. If you give up and don't make them do what your asking then you are in BIG, BIG Trouble!

It's never OK to hurt a horse during training and schooling. It's not OK to "DOMINATE" them big man cowboy style. But it is OK to teach, guide and school them appropriately which will be much better for the both of you in the long run.


OldMorgans said...

Horses want a leader, except for some who do like being their own leader. The latter ones will accept a human's leadership if the human proves they are a worthy leader every day in every way. Some horses are skeptics and worriers and so the human has to prove they are worthy leaders that will take care of & protect the horse, every day. Some horses are easy going & happy to have the human leader but the human still has to prove their leadership every (ready for it?) day.
I don't care if my horses love me. I love them. I want them to respect me, follow my leadership, enjoy being with me and happy to see me for reasons other then food. Do horses actually "love" humans? That is an interesting philosophical question. I have my own opinion on it which has worked well for me and my horses.
I see this same problem (I want my "whatever" to luv [sic] me!) in people with other pets and with their children too. Boundaries, folks, boundaries, all beings need and want boundaries.
Rant over. I needed to get that out!


Nd_Appy said...

Like that little mini pain in the butt I emailed you about.

His little but needs a date with a round pen.

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Trainer X said...

ND~ Exactly! :):)

S&D said...

boy that sounds so familiar... could you possibly be talking about me and hubby and our ongoing saga with little Diamond?? LOL
Yes, he is afraid to be too forceful with her, he stops at the asking stage, and she not so politely refuses his request most times... why? Because she KNOWS he won't push the issue... now when Mama comes down she knows it's no foolin around time. I do push the issue, I ask nicely, I tell her, and then I make her do what I've asked. She is getting so much better with me because she knows, if she does it nice and easy the first time, there's no laps to run in the round pen!! I think it's time for Dad to start running some laps with his little princess pony when he misbehaves!! LMAO!!!

kestrel said...

Horses seem to have a very balanced worldview. They're prey animals, so hanging out with weak personalities will, in their eyes, simply ensure that the lions will eat them, too! They seem profoundly happy to find a strong leader that is fair and protective, and yet at the same time they will protect and teach a handicapped rider for their leader.
My Arab mare came in supremely messed up, and after we worked things out she became extremely protective of me. I actually have to remind her that I really can fight my own battles!

The old good cop-bad cop routine works so well! I have a client who simply has to threaten her horse with "well, if you really want to go there I will call the bad cop...." and it's the funniest thing you ever saw. Horse thinks it over and chooses the lesser of two evils, so back to work they go! When I show up he immediately co-operates with his owner!
The skeptics and worrier horses seem to bond closer with one strong fair person, sometimes to the extreme of being a one person horse. Cool for the lucky strong trainer who can turn all that intelligence and will to a partnership!
I have a very lazy QH who can play the old "but it's too haaard" game really well. I pull the spurs out, show them to him, and he gets a resigned look on his face and off we go.
Love and devotion may be close to the same thing, but my greatest honor is that if a herd member gets hurt they will immediately run to mama for help.

Mikolaj said...

Me and my poneh have a bit of a balanced approach - we agree to believe that we are equals until she does something dumb. The intelligence in that animal astounds me, but it's really something that can only be learned after years of studying behavior. For the most part, we discuss things because she's the most honest horse I know. If she's telling me she's having a bad day, I listen. However, this is also the horse that crowds the gate anytime someone approachs with a halter and leadrope because she's so eager to get out and go for a ride. So I'm able to keep that balance because she doesn't lie to me.

It's not often I have to discipline her, after a lifetime together we've both figured out which buttons shouldn't be pressed on one another. However, I DO still take my role seriously, and when it comes down to it, she DOES respect me as the boss.

A perfect example would be my best friends 4 year old pony cross mare. Adorable little palomino pocket pony. She's completely affectionate and loving - but to much for my liking. She crowds and doesn't respect space - so when I handle her, I take the position of "bad cop" because I don't care if you're only 14hh, these are MY feet and I don't like how they look with bruises! Amazing - she STILL comes running up to me in the paddock with nuzzles and delight!

Nd_Appy said...

I have an example using my full sized horses.

I can go out there and do what every I want with Phoenix (my grade appy mare) and not have to worry about her. Hell I could be barefoot with her (I know did it was an emergency, long story) and not worry about her steeping on my feet. But let my dad go out there and she is walking all over him. Literally. Actually both of my mares are like that... They know he is a push over and that they can get away with it. They know that they can't get away with that crap with me and don't even try.

hope4more said...

I am newer into the horse game. I don't know if my horses necessarily "love" me like I love them BUT I would like them to respect me, want to be around me etc. We are still working on that one *sigh* little devils. I try to be fair, my one is sweet he seems to know I am doing my best and cooperates, the other sees me as "VICTIM!" What crap can I pull on her now HA HA HA...somedays he just really ticks me off. However he does give up easily when I don't back down, he just stops like, "Dang she didn't fall for it." They both come running now when I show up, things are looking up! The one who causes me the most headaches was really bonded to his owner...so much so that we once rode together and he loaded himself into her trailer!!!! LOL, it was kinda funny and sad at the same time. He very willingly unloaded and reloaded into mine and off we went but I did get a better understanding of maybe where his little outbursts were coming from. He is a one person horse and now I am working on becoming his one person :)

Smurfette said...

No kidding...why do people have such a difficult time figuring this out? You are the human, you are (supposed to be) smarter, you pay the bills. I think it actually scares horses (just like little kids) to have too much freedom, they don't have the capacity to make those kind of decisions for themselves. Are we going to take the bit today, so that mommy can have a nice ride? Do you think you should go to bed so that you will be able to function in school tomorrow? Gag me with a spoon. Take charge, they will love you for it, and have a much nice life, neither going to a trainer who has to "make" the horse understand or to juvenile lock up. I have seen some horses that go around and around this cycle...to firm trainer, back to marshmellow owner, back to firmer trainer, back to marshmellow, to brutal trainer (lets fix this once and for all), back to marshmellow, finally to the kill buyer. The horse deserves better, just like kids do. I figure it is my responsibility to raise a responsible citizen, whether horse or human.

I also like the rule of threes, I call it my three strike rule. I really believe that it is the closest thing to an absolute in horse, or kid rearing. My youth horse could, on her own, withstand ANYTHING, she would let flies bite her, I once was trying to inject her with a dull needle, because that is all I had, she just stood there. BUT, but using the rule of threes, she could be ridden with just the flex of a calf muscle, or a halter, or spurs or a spade bit, because she knew what was expected of her.

You really hit a soap box subject for me today.

Lulu said...

I am 100% alpha mare....and always have been, but I need help just the same. What would you do with a chronic nipper??

This filly has been asked, and told, and demanded to stop. She knows she is doing something bad, and does it anyway.


Trainer X said...

Several. Some nice, some not so nice.
1. Pinch her on the lip. HARD
2. IF you can tell when she's going to do it and she's moving her head at you, move your fist at her. NOW what I mean by this is you want her to basically run her OWN nose into your fist, or ANY hard object. THEN she's going to think "OWWWW What the heck was that? It hurt" You are NOT punching her in ANYWAY, you're just giving her the idea that whatever she's biting hurts!!
3. Squirt gun. Shoot her with water LOL!! Horses aren't big fans of it!
4. Do NOT carry treats with you when you are working her.
5. Flick her with your finger

The idea is when your horse does something you don't like ie: naughty/dangerous behavior, you need to make it as unpleasant as possible for them to continue to do so. Stay with it and keep it consistent.

SammieRockes said...

My gelding constantly challenges my leadership, he thinks because he is bigger, he should decide when the trailride is over or what speed to go. He is slowly learning though.

I was so excited, I bought a lunge line yesterday so I could actually put my guy in the RP. Ohh, he was not happy that he couldnt barge the gate, and boy is he feisty in that round pen. He quit when he realized I could yank his head. Still has a long way to go, I need to stop being lazy and actually work with him a little.

lachellesays said...

I LOVE ask, tell, demand. It works WONDERS when teaching kids to ride. They learn to ASK with a squeeze, TELL with a kick, and then DEMAND with a crop.

My horse & I have a balanced relationship : )
My mom does not understand why he doesn't behave as well for her as he does for me. Well, it's because I'm his leader, not treat-lady.

He can have cookies and be cute, but when he's being an ass, well, I make sure he knows it : )

Tricky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tricky said...

This always makes me laugh as I look after a lot of other people's horses, and it astounds me what they'll let their horse get away with that it would never even contemplate doing with me. It's even funnier when it's the weekend staff that the horses are picking on. I know I shouldn't laugh but it's a little bit of karma.
It also makes me mad sometimes, when the owners are very relaxed on their horses as it's normally me in the firing line the next day after they've pulled one over on mummy dearest they might try a go at leading the herd in general. not for long!

What I have noticed over the last few years is that as disciplining and boundary setting children has become less and less ( and in some cases stopped by law) this has also come over into the horse world, and owners less and less discipline/boundary set their horses. They are their babies, I am aware of that, but they are not kids and their body language and behaviour is different. They are powerful beings with a memory, not 20kg 2 foot nothings that you could accidently trip over. Horses are NOT children and should not be treated as such... it's demeaning to the horse.


Anonymous said...

This is a great discussion!
When I was checking out my new horse (private email coming TrainerX), the first thing he did was try to push me over with his giant head. I bopped him (gently) on the nose, and made him back up. A couple minutes later, he gave me a gentle nudge with his head, and I said "Enough" and made him back up (he is a really good boy - was just out in a field without halter on when I was visiting).
His old owner went over to pet him, and the man had to take 3 or 4 steps back from the force of the bump.
The owner was amazed that he didn't do it to me again. I said "I am not going to let him".
My horse (now home) has never bumped me hard since the first time.

This type of AHA moment reminds me of talking to parents who's kids only eat chicken fingers and french fries. Who is buying the groceries? Be the parent. Be the leader.

lachellesays said...

On an another note...


I think someone should email this woman and tell that we don't need anymore damn mustangs! And on THAT note, what the HELL are you going to do with a mustang/quarter horse cross? Especially not out of those two conformational disasters.

What is 14.5 hands? lol.

GoLightly said...

Great Post!
as per usual!
Sorry I'm late, darn laptop is now fixed..

LOL at kestrel showing her QH her spurs. A red mare I rode HATED draw reins, (wonder why) and I rarely rode her in them. But if she'd been really um, red mare-ish the day before, I'd show her the draw reins as I was tacking up, she'd make nasty faces at them, and she'd be an angel that day, with no draw reins.
Horses are so much smarter than some of the people who ride them:)

Not talking about this group, o'course:)

better work:(

Lulu said...

Thanks for the ideas....I will give them a try.

PS...I don't "do" treats. Oats in a bucket are my version of a treat.....nothing from my hand or pockets!

ponykins said...

Lulu - When I first bought my stallion, I took him out to the paddock. I had my back to him while I unlocked the gate and he bit me in the middle of my back. I flew around, grabbed his muzzle, and bit hie muzzle back HARD. You should have seen the look on his face. The next day, he did it again, only lighter, and I again bit his muzzle. That was the end of the bitting and that was 17 years ago! I might be small, but I am mighty and no one dares bit me.