The “Okidoki” Attitude

Whenever I work with a horse, my ultimate goal is to have the horse adopt what I call the “okidoki attitude.”  The okidoki attitude is when you say to your horse “Horse!  Let’s go for a ride.” “Okidoki,” is his answer.  “Horse?  Let’s cross this bridge.”  “Okidoki,” he says.  “Hey horse, let’s cross this creek here.”  “Okily-dokily,” says horsey.  This is what working with horses should be like all the time.  This is the goal we are striving for.  It is the calm, willing attitude of our partner, who will do whatever we ask of him, every time we ask it.

The opposite of the okidoki attitude is the “not so much” attitude.  This is when a red flag goes up.   It happens when I’m working with a horse, and I ask him to do something, and he says “mmmm, not so much.”  When this happens, I make a mental note of it, and then figure out a way, using natural horsemanship, to get back to that okidoki attitude.   This might include: going back to a stage where he was more comfortable, and working back up to what I am asking; or it might just mean keeping the pressure on until he decided it’s easier to change his attitude than to live with the pressure.

The “okidoki attitude” includes: not spooking, coming when I call, standing still to be saddled, mounted, etc., not crowding into me, walking into the trailer when asked, and just having a willing attitude in general.  There are many steps to get to the “okidoki attitude” but they are well worth it.  Taking the time to teach your horse something the right way is always better than just getting them to do it this once, with no regard for the horse’s future response/attitude.  For example, forcing a horse into the trailer who does not want to get on willingly is only gonig to create more problems for you the next time.  Taking the time to teach him to go on with “okidoki attitude” will ensure that all future trailer trips are relaxing and enjoyable.

All in all, the “olidoki attitude” is something I keep in the back of my mind at all times when working with horses.  It is the goal I strive toward in all aspects of horse handling and riding, and it is what makes being around horses so much fun.

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3 Responses

  1. Aeron, this is a great article. You are a very good teacher. I will use this to help me with my equine friends! THANK YOU!

  2. I am looking after Cassy, a spooky 17 h palimino mare so my old Gelding (who thinks he’s a stallion) Danny can live have a companion. She is backs up when I go to put the saddle on and sometimes moves her butt away when I try to mount. She spooks on squirrels, bike riders, anything that moves…She won’t even greet people unless they have a carrot. Her owner wants me to buy her but I am hoping to find her a bigger home where she could eventually have a foal ( she’s in heat almost constantly) . I would like to improve her behavoir to improve her chance of getting a better home with gentle people. She obviously has been hit and lot and was abandoned very early by her mother. She trusts me now more then ever and people think she is a different horse, but I think she still has a long way to go. Any hints??
    Thanks Lora

  3. Hi Lora,
    Thanks for writing…. without seeing in person (or on video) exactly what is happening, I can’t say for sure what is going on… but for something like the backing-up when trying to saddle her, (I’m assuming your goal is to have her stand still when saddling…. and also with mounting), I would suggest the following: keep in mind that the right thing (standing still) should be easy (no pressure), and the wrong thing (backing up or moving) should be more difficult (add pressure)…. so, for saddling, I might try something like this: each time she takes a step back, I’d push her back 6 or 8 or 10 steps. Then stop. Wait 5 – 10 seconds, and try putting the saddle on again (or start with the saddle pad)…. if she moves, back her up again, but not all wimpy and gentle… back her up like you mean it. Not with anger or to punish, just be firm, and be consistent. Then stop, wait 5-10 seconds, and repeat. You may need to do this several times before you start noticing an improvement. Be sure to always praise her when she stands still, so she knows that’s what she should be doing. The idea is to make the the wrong thing a bit annoying to her, and the right thing very easy and relaxing. Pretty soon she’ll think to herself “all this backing up is pretty annoying. I think I’ll just stand still instead.” Try the same thing for spooking, circling her if she spooks at something (see my article on Correcting a Severe Spook, link on right)… if she just looks at something but doesn’t spook, DON’T correct her… wait till she actually spooks…. Hope this helps….
    Good luck!
    ~Aeron

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