Demand VS Insist - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 56 Old 06-01-2020, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Demand VS Insist

So some may ask, "What's the difference"?

I have not looked at the formal definition of either as I don't believe that would address the emotions and intent of each that I'm thinking about.

To me, the word demand is followed by an unspoken 'or else' usually meaning a punishment will follow non-compliance. A one way conversation. My way or the highway type thing.

I would never ever think of demanding something of a friend. But I would, have, and will freely insist on this or that. But to me, insist is a two way conversation. An 'insist' leaves the door open for a return 'insist'. That is done between friends all the time.

So if we truly want a bonded human animal 'friendship' should we ever demand or just at times insist leaving the door open for the horse to insist back?

I personally think there is a lot wrapped up in those two words.

What do you think?
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post #2 of 56 Old 06-01-2020, 11:24 PM
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While most of the time I ask and often let them make their own decisions, as a trail rider there are occasions that for safety reasons I have to demand and expect them to respond immediately with no questions asked. An example of that would be walking over a nest of ground bees. Have you ever done that? IME the horse will either freeze or start bucking but staying basically in the same spot and not move on. Another is crossing fast moving rivers. Left to their own device the horse will let the water move it further downstream. This may be fine on shallow banked rivers but on rivers where there is one spot suitable for exiting the water you have to demand your horse keep moving against the current. I saw a horse and rider get swept downstream one time. It ended ok but not something I ever want to witness again. I won't keep going but there are many other examples of like nature.

In short it's ok to negotiate a lot of the time but your horse needs to know how to accept a demand too.

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post #3 of 56 Old 06-01-2020, 11:30 PM
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'Demand' and 'insist' really aren't the best words to use when training horses, I would lean more towards 'ask' and then 'tell.' Its similar to raising/training anything. First you ask, give them a chance to do the right thing, then you tell. Horses are powerful animals, though not aggressive by nature per se, they have a supreme possibility of being dangerous. They are unaware of their size. Horses can be your friends all you want, but in training you have to be the boss first and foremost. Its hard to watch all these teeny-bopper liberty 'trainers' on Youtube with these 'unspeakable bonds' and not take a look at your own horse-relationships and compare and have a ting of jealousy. In a lot of ways some of the things they do are putting themselves in harms way, liberty is a really amazing thing to watch and I have nothing against it, I just have something against treating horses like pet dogs (and don't get me started on teaching them to rear lol, I don't think I'd ever encourage that). And besides, in the pasture there is very little asking, maybe a flick of the ears, but mainly just them being very physical with each other-its how their dynamic works. Just my two cents (:
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post #4 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 12:37 AM
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I think more in terms of setting limits. Demand or insist, you are giving the horse one option. In most cases, I prefer to think there are more than two options. When time permits, looking for a 3rd or 4th option that BOTH accept - mutually acceptable compromise - is a better way.

With Bandit at least, in a tough spot, he WANTS to know what I suggest. That is because over time my suggestions have proven to be good ways to handle whatever is scary. Time permitting, he might say, "That one is too tough!" But when it is, "I'm overwhelmed! What do we do?", he tends to take my first suggestion immediately.

That said, he has freedom within parameters: No bucking. No biting. No bolting. No spinning. Violate those few rules, and I'll be as mean as needed to convince you that behavior is unacceptable to me.

In return, if he gets nervous, I try to honor his concerns without putting him into a spot where bucking or bolting feels necessary to him.

There are also times I will strongly urge him. Not insist because he may make it clear it REALLY seems to hard to him, and I try to respect that. But experience has taught him when I strongly urge him to do something, it works. And if it REALLY seems too tough for him, I'll usually back down. It works for us because we are both honest with each other. And that honesty wasn't there when I got him. I had to convince him I would listen before he became honest with me

With most Thoroughbreds, force simply doesn't work; equestrian tact does. The English call such sensitive horses "high couraged", a characteristic that can be a double-edged sword. No horse will give you more if you can channel his energy in the right direction, but no horse can fight you harder if you abuse him. Pushing and pulling will backfire and is akin to stepping on the gas and the brakes at the same time in an automobile. Finesse, compromise, and an indirect approach to the problem - "going in through the back door" - will usually get the job done much better than confrontations, force and fights.

The American Jumping Style, George Morris, pages 16-17
Bandit is half-mustang, half-Arabian, but he is an independent spirit. Like Mia before him, he thinks in a way Trooper and Cowboy do not. Trooper and Cowboy are content with orders. Bandit prefers suggestions. He views me as a staff officer. He thinks I work for him.

"Therefore, everywhere - out-of-doors or in the haute ecole - success with horses is to him who applies this maxim of Baucher...

'Let him think that he is our master, then he is our slave.' There dwells an eternal equestrian truth!

'The horse is the sole master of his forces; even with all of our vigor, by himself, the rider is powerless to increase the horse's forces. Therefor, it is for the horse to employ his forces in his own way, for himself to determine the manner of that employment so as to best fulfill the demands of his riders. If the rider tries to do it all, the horse may permit him to do so, but the horse merely drifts, and limits his efforts to those which the rider demands. On the contrary, if the horse knows that he must rely on himself, he uses himself completely, with all of his energy.'" - 5 May 1922

-- Horse Training Outdoors and High School, Etienne Beudant (1931)
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Last edited by bsms; 06-02-2020 at 12:47 AM.
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post #5 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 01:10 AM
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I want a horse to be on my team and work with me. I like to give them a choice, my way easy or my way hard.

Having had many horses that were labelled as unrideable or even dangerous, there have been many instances where I have had to use spurs and a big stick but above that was a determination that I was going to have things go my way. So, if that was demanding so be it.

Certainly in the stables I demanded good manners. The 'or else' that followed that depended on the response to my request.

An example, I liked a horse to move back when I entered the stable, I would ask with a hand pushing it back, if that had to be forceful then I would use the pointed end of the hoof pick against their chest, thus 'demanding' it move to give me room. As soon as it did, praise was given, a pat, verbal praise or a scratch. Their choice.

Looking back I am fairly certain that my insistence or demand was way more likely to have happened on the ground than on top. Corrections were very, very rarely anything more than a raised voice, arm waving and me chasing them around the stable.

The young horses were all kept in during the winter. They were housed in large loose sheds. They had plenty of room to charge around, had ad lib hay and hard feed twice a day.

Rules were that they stood back when I entered with the feed. I would start one end of the trough shaking the feed into it as I moved to the other. The horses could follow behind starting to eat but they were to give me room.

One day as I was starting to feed, one of the geldings turned his butt to me and lashed out. My instant reaction was to swing the bucket at him. I then proceeded to chase him around the barn throwing the bucket between his legs. The other horses all moved into a corner away from the trough. When the sinner tried to get in with the herd they blocked him.

After he had been circled for about a minute and showed signs of submission, I left, gathered more feed and proceeded to feed as normal. No more problems.

I did go up to that horse as he was eating, he stopped and took a step back, eyeing me, I patted him and walked away.

They all knew he had committed a big no no.

Was my reaction a demand or a tell?

However you think of it, itmwas fully warranted and accepted as being earned.,
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post #6 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 01:30 AM
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Good question Hondo. And a 3rd option... having been into Parelli many years ago, is 'Promise' - essentially the same as 'demand' or 'insist', but sounds... nicer maybe. And IMO 'demand' & 'insist' are essentially the same(interested how you'd define 'insist' as different?) too. Just like Parelli used to(dunno if he still gets pedantic about these things) differentiate between 'make'(bad) and 'cause'(his way - good), and allow v's let(bad).

I do absolutely get the point of using certain language, and the mindset & 'baggage' different words come with(& that was the reason, BTW, why Parelli named his training stick a 'carrot-stick'). It is why I'm reticent to use terms like 'break in' a horse for eg. But at the end of the day, you can 'demand' fairly & appropriately, you can 'break in' a horse humanely and respectfully... and whether you call it 'promise' or 'demand', it's essentially the same beast IMO.

As for your defining demand as 'do it or else', yeah, as with my kids & dogs, there are many times, for safety or otherwise, that I will absolutely 'demand' that they do as they're told, not open to debate. Such as kids & school work or chores for eg. But that's not to say I feel the need to dish out much punishment at all, perhaps because I DO allow respectFUL dialog & consideration of their feelings when appropriate to do so(most things), so when I do 'demand', they tend to accept it.
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post #7 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 07:32 AM
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Focusing too much on words or terminology can be problematic. Definitions sometimes change with circumstance. The first time I tried reading "True Horsemanship Through Feel" I became confused and gave up. A few years later, I tried again. This time I realized that I need to pay more attention to context. What Bill Dorrance meant when he used the word "feel" changed with the circumstances.

Another problem is that words used by popular trainers may become accepted as the best way of doing things. Then, other trainers begin using those same terms while doing things in slightly or completely different ways.

We must use words and phrases to describe what we are doing. When hearing or reading those phrases, however, we must pay attention to the context in which they are used. If confused, we should ask for further clarification. We might also ask the individual using the word or phrase to explain what they mean using different terms.

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post #8 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 07:50 AM
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I completely understand the shadings you are using with the words "demand" and "insist." In my experience, it just depends on the horse/rider pair. With Pony, I ask or demand, no "insist." I think that insisting, as you define it, would be confusing for him. I feel like the difference between the two words, as you mean it, is a lot more clear to the person who is doing the demanding or insisting than it is to the other person (or horse). With Pony, if he's going to get a choice, I ask him much less firmly, so it's clear that when I ask him anything firmly he doesn't have a choice.

With Teddy, on the other hand, it's more of an ask and sometimes tell. Teddy generally does not want to think for himself, and he is a rule follower who understands that the cardinal rule is to do what a human tells him to do. And, using too much firmness can make him come undone. So even if I, in my mind, am clear that he doesn't have a choice about doing something, I still usually ask first rather than tell, because I like to use the least amount of force possible. If asking doesn't work, then I tell. He doesn't need anything more firm than that.

With Moonshine, you can ask, tell, demand, insist, beg and plead, but if she's not convinced in her own mind that she wants to do the thing you want -- good luck.

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post #9 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by TXhorseman View Post
Focusing too much on words or terminology can be problematic. Definitions sometimes change with circumstance. The first time I tried reading "True Horsemanship Through Feel" I became confused and gave up.
Well put, TX. As usual. But this above... I'm happy to hear someone like you were also confused & gave up on Bill's book the first time too. I was so disappointed that I just didn't get it on the first reading, a lot might well have been in Swahili. But then, reading the same words with a different mindset a few years later, it was the epitome of 'common sense'. I think it's also a lot about the 'context' WE are at, at the time as how we understand certain terms too.
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post #10 of 56 Old 06-02-2020, 01:24 PM
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I look at it as an ask, tell, demand (or insist) escalating pathway. If there is a refusal with demand you open up a why discussion and try to make a determination for the resistance.
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