Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nag, Nag, Nag

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I just never thought that I would EVER write an article about nagging. Really. I don't like nagging. Who does?
I really get after my students if they attempt to nag their horse. If you don't like it, chances are the horse won't like it either.

Nagging results when you keep asking your horse the same way, over, and over, and over and over.... hoping by some miracle that on the 10th time or 20th or 30th or 50th time, the horse will give in and do as you ask. NOT!

You're just pissing them off or nagging. Bugging them. So of course, I never recommend this course of action - and I still don't. They just learn to tune you out, creating a whole new set of problems.'s definition for nagging is:

   "1. To annoy by constant scolding, complaining, or urging.    
     2. To torment persistently, as with anxiety or pain.
     3. To scold, complain, or find fault constantly: nagging at the children.
     4. To be a constant source of anxiety or annoyance: ...." says that the word nag comes from the old dutch word: 'nagge', which means a small riding horse.  Ha! Well look at that!

However, as luck would have it, I've come across a difficult horse to ride and nagging was just what I needed to do.  So this is my story of how I figured out how to train this horse for a customer and make him safe.

You see, I found out that this horse loves to argue to get out of what he is asked to do. If he picks a fight or argues with the rider then he can engage in his favorite passtime - to fight. I truly believe this horse loves to spend his day figuring out how to wrestle with the rider or handler and add to his skills.  He wrestles with the other horses all day long.  The bully of the barnyard.

Not the sort of skills we want to enforce of a bully for sure!   So I don't.  I won't go there though the horse makes it very tempting.  I would not succeed as the horse is an expert at it and I am not. The horse is also much stronger than I am making this an unsafe situation. You can imagine where this could dangerously lead.

So I persist.  I persevere.  This is where the nagging comes in.

When he starts to give attitude and wants to start a fight, I just ignore him.  I know better. I just think to myself... ' whatever!!... keep going.... I'm not giving you the opportunity to learn to fight with your rider.  I asked you to do something so let's get going'.  La la la.

Rick Lamb has an article on EXTINCTION OF BEHAVIOUR - FINDING REWARD.  I believe this is similar where you don't use punishment (his words. I prefer the word correction though punishment is appropriate in this case), but instead give the horse something positive to do. 

So I kept repeating this every time as a correction - being very firm with my asking. The horse might think it's nagging because I just keep going, ride him through it, and keep asking over and over and over and over again. 10 times, 20, 30, 50 times. Whatever. Nag. Nag. Nag.

I won't fight or argue but I will nag in this case and only in this case. And it works!!  I won't do it often. If I have to nag a horse to get them to do something, then I don't want to ride the horse anymore. His antics did diminish over time though they won't completely disappear as its in his nature to be like that.

I admit that it's an unusal form of training.  It makes me very appreciative of the nice minded horses to train and ride.  It was exhausting and no fun.

I just never thought I'd be writing an article about nagging.

Putting my spin on training philosophy - 1 nag at a time!
@KISS Reiners

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