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Horse Parenting 101
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   18th Jan 2016   •   2,146 views   •   0 comments
I’ve heard people say that horses are like children. Personally, I’ve never seen a newborn horse that needs assistance in keeping its head on its neck, nor one that aggressively urinates in your face while you are mucking out with some kind of “adorable” giggle of vindictive malice. In addition, you don’t have to flop your horse over your shoulder after feeding it and pat it until it regurgitates its feed onto your clothes.

As baffling as it is that people would equate horses with children (almost as baffling as why people choose to have children in the first place) there is one aspect of this metaphor that holds true. Horses, like children, can have their behaviour modified and shaped through a correct reward scheme.

So, if you don’t want your adorable, mouthy, playful youngster to grow up into an obnoxious teenage steed of destruction, here are the steps that you should follow:

Horse Parenting 101

1. When catching your horse, never use food. This will just make your horse think that if he runs away from you, you will eventually reward him with a treat. You are training him not to be caught without some kind of payment. Basically, you’re raising the equine equivalent of a stingy businessman. He may be successful, sure, but you’ll never get any form of charity from his ungrateful rump. The second you stop bringing him carrots, you’ll be in an old age home faster than you could catch your deviously tricksy steed without bribery. So I suppose there’s no need to worry. You still have several sweaty, frustrating, painful, headcollar-holding, horseless years ahead of you.

2. When loading your horse, never use food. If he expects food every time you load him, he won’t get into a box when you don’t have a treat handy. If your kid won’t get into the car without a chocolate, and you don’t have one handy, eventually you’ll end up leaving him at the side of the road in some third world country to work as a slave for ruthless businesssteeds. But hey, I guess it would be humbling. He might still turn out okay. And at least it’s not your problem any more.

Horse Parenting 101

3. Don’t ever praise your horse by patting him. Like children, horses are devious creatures who spend their (mostly gloriously empty) lives plotting and scheming about how not to do what you want them to, even if it means getting you into trouble. When your horse jumps well and you give him an ecstatic slap on the neck, and he shakes his head and throws a little exuberant buck that you think is oh-so-cute, what he’s really doing is being that devious child who baits his parent into spanking him, then shows the mark to the police and gets his mommy arrested so that he can have a party in the house that weekend. He will turn the entire horse community against you, and have you burned at the stake like a witch.

4. Never scratch his butt, no matter how much he enjoys it. Let him present his silky-soft, gleaming apple bum to you like a proud baboon. Let him blink those adorable brown eyes at you. Just don’t scratch. Resist it. If you take one step closer, you’ll take a tail to the eye faster than a child can throw a plate of spaghetti in your face.

5. Don’t hug or cuddle him. He will stand on your feet. Hard. And refuse to get off, no matter how hard you try to convince him that he’s just too heavy for that now. “Carry me, Mommy!” becomes a lot less endearing when you’re carrying your Frankenstein-like creation on a full set of broken toes.

6. There’s no point in telling your horse “you did well, I’m proud of you”. He’ll just snort in your face and continue eating all the food that you paid for without leaving any for you. Ungrateful little beast.

7. Don’t bother grooming your horse. He’ll only wait until you’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into making him pretty without hurting him (due to the, “ow, Mommy, you’re pulling my hair!”) and then he’ll go outside to play with his friends and come back covered in stains and filth and more work for you. Feeling the love, Mum?

8. Don’t buy him expansive blankets or fly masks or magnetic boots to keep him warm, comfy and healthy. You will only enter into an endless cycle of destruction and replacement resulting in your broke-ness. And that’s not even counting those horses with the audacity to outgrow their clothes. How dare they? This is why horse kids should never get treats.

You may think these guidelines “extreme” or that my views are “overly cynical”, but when your horse parenting results in an evil genius of a horse with the face of an angel and a belly like Santa Claus, you know it’s time to start rethinking your reward methods. I have seen the dangers, and you have been warned. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my adorable horse is demanding a carrot and I must take off his magnetic rug, groom him with his special soft brush, tell him how wonderful he is, and pat, cuddle and butt-scratch him until all that’s left of me is an empty husk of humanity with a heart full of happy horsey goodness.
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