I have no bond with my horse, I feel like I failed - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 11:30 AM Thread Starter
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Unhappy I have no bond with my horse, I feel like I failed

I don't know if it's me or if it's him, or maybe it's both but whe do not click. He will do what I say but he has like no personality. He'll ride but is grumpy the whole time and it makes it unenjoyable. I don't know, but you can just tell. When I walk out to him he doesn't act excited to see me, the only exception to this is when he knows I'm going to give him his grain. I don't know what to do! I can just feel that he just does not like me at all. I've tried spending time with stuff (like brushing him) but can really care less.
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post #2 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 11:35 AM
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How long have you had him? How do you currently interact with him? Not every horse will click with every rider, but it is also true that some horses take longer, and some riders need to adjust their approach. But it isn't a failure unless it is based on neglect - which I doubt. I don't like all people, either. Truth is, I dislike MOST people, but we won't go there...

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #3 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 11:39 AM
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My old "friend" had a mare with a goldfish personality. It happens.

If you don't feel like he's the horse for you, you can sell him and find one you think is a better fit. He might do better as a weekend trail horse or a jumper or whatever else. He might be better suited for someone who wants a working relationship more than a bond and that's okay!

You didn't fail. He's just not the right horse. As long as you aren't unrealistic about the kind of bond you want [Black Stallion and Flicka are stories, not real life], it's not a big deal.
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post #4 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 11:41 AM
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The arab gelding i was riding while we had a bond he was not one of those horses who get super excited and would run to you. It may just be your guy is a little more reserved or as stated above hasn't been with you long enough ( took me a year and a half) or then again it could be that he just isnt one of those super lovey horses.
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post #5 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by CountryChic12 View Post
I've tried spending time with stuff (like brushing him) but can really care less.
Maybe I'm reading this wrong...

Did you initially not care about spending a lot of time just being around him as opposed to riding or has his behavior about everything made you not care? I can understand how a horse's aloof behavior could be discouraging to where, at times, you don't even feel like giving it an effort anymore. However, if it was the former then that would be a contributing factor. Even grooming, petting, just being with your horse for a period of time is 'bonding' and helps a horse form a relationship with a person. If bonding time was never your thing and you didn't feel happy about grooming or anything then the horse could very well have picked up on it. Animals are uncanny at detecting how we feel about things.

I only go up to the farm two days a week (mainly because I currently don't have the time to go more often) to just love on my horse and whenever Reno sees me walk into the barn (when he's in his stall) he comes up to the bars as close as he can and nickers a hello. He doesn't do that to anyone else.

I wouldn't be discouraged. Horses are individuals and some take longer to warm up than others (though if you've had him for years with no improvement, then I'd think that you really aren't clicking). Not every visit has to be about riding or food. If you're not enthusiastic about spending ten minutes brushing him, maybe try this? While grooming, think about all the wonderful things you and your horse could do together if you built a happy relationship with him. Think of him being happy to see you without food. Sometimes positive thinking will change the way the animal (and even people) senses you because positivity actually changes your demeanor. Just a suggestion though.
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post #6 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 11:48 AM
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Nahh, you didn't fail. ST did what I told her because I told her, not because she liked me. She'd turn around and walk away out in the field as soon as she saw me coming. She's not lovey like Dude was, but she still had a personality.
I dropped out of trade school and came home and started leasing her again..Day before I left I rode her bareback and I could just tell she knew I was leaving for awhile. She had that look in her eye and she tried to keep all the other horses away from me. I went to the barn when I came home and walked all the way out to the end of the 20-25 acre pasture and she walked up to me, first time. Didn't need to show a treat to let me halter her and she bumped me with her nose. I was shocked, because she never showed any interest in me before I left her for a bit. She knew I was good to her even when I corrected her during our training and she knee it was me when I went out there, not whoever was riding her while I was gone.

But..I agree with other posters. If it isn't the horse for you, sell and look at others, there's no harm in that.
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post #7 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 12:01 PM
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You know, not every horse is going to bond with every rider. That doesn't mean he's 'not right' for you. If he does everything you ask willingly and is easy to get along with, then I'd hardly say he's the wrong horse.

All this, 'if we don't have the perfect, mind-melding bond he's obviously not the horse for me' nonsense is ludicrous.

I've had ONE horse out of the six I've owned and the myriad more I've ridden over the years, with whom I had a special bond. That doesn't mean I didn't love and appreciate the others for the wonderful animals they were and are.

If you think every horse has to be 'the one' in order to love and enjoy them, then you're going to miss out on a lot of great horses.
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post #8 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 12:10 PM
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I'm with Reno Bay. It may just be the way you wrote it, but it seems that this is not entirely the gelding's "fault". You seen rather half-hearted about him, to be honest.

When I got my gelding, all we did for almost three months was ground work. Lunging, trail walks, grooming...you name it, we did it. At first, it was because he was a virtually unhandled stud colt, but then it was because it was fun. Now, even though I barely get out to the barn once a month because of my heinous work schedule, we still have that bond. My best friend was helping me out with him and she would text me to tell me how rotten he was being. I'd show up within a couple of days and he would be a complete angel. Not because he likes me more than her, but because I invested the time to earn his trust. It doesn't sound like you've taken the time to earn your gelding's trust (which is really what the bond is all about).

Now, that being said, some horses and riders just don't click. My best friend was given an Arab mare a few months ago and she ended up having to get rid of her because she and this mare absolutely did not click, regardless of how hard my friend tried.

Just remember: apathy begets apathy. The less you want to do with the horse, the less the horse will want to do with you.
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post #9 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 12:12 PM
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I have four horses with four distinct personalities. I don't like to use the word "bond" but, for the sake of this thread, I have "bonded" with all four horses. Each in a different way.

The word "aloof" has been mentioned. The horse I have the strongest invisible thread with is my alpha-dominant and very aloof horse He is aloof because he is the leader of the herd, and a stellar one at that.

I never took the approach that any of them HAD to "bond" with me. Describe precisely what that word means in strictly black and white and as it applies to any animal? It's the same as raising several children - they are not the same but mom loves them all equally, yet in different ways.

I agree to sell the horse but be prepared to go thru a lot of horses for the sake of "bonding".

Every time I hear this sort of statement I think of what my mom used to say when I got impatient about something: "A watchpot never boils". In other words the harder one looks for something, sometimes the less obvious its presence is

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post #10 of 29 Old 12-01-2012, 12:15 PM
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I think RiccilOve got it right. You haven't failed at all. This horse may have had negative experiences with people for a very long time, such that he has just "shut down" in his ability to relate and be interested in people. I've seen this many times -- usually in horses that are "well trained", meaning that they are pretty push-button to ride. Used to see this "gone" kind of personality on the hunter circuit a lot...one of the reasons I quit that discipline, as I knew what it took to create that flat, dead aspect in the horse. Such horses typically do their job, but always with the sense about them that they're doing it because they have to, not because they want to. They tolerate the presence of people for the same reason. They have been given no reason to feel joy about us.

Can this psychological damage be undone? In my experience, sometimes yes, but it generally takes a very long time and a total change in what and how the horse is asked to exist and function. Sometimes, it just is what it is and it stays that way.

We had a horse like this for a while -- bought him for my newbie rider husband because he was push button and safe. Had the personality of a wet rag. Even my other horse found this unlikeable (he hated that horse and wanted him nowhere near him). Who knows what that horse was like initially, before people turned him off like that? He was a good horse to ride, but we also like to have a feeling of relationship and enjoyment coming to and from our horses, so we didn't keep him. Sold him to a trainer who was coming back after very serious injury, and she just loved him. She also used him in her school string, and he was a favorite with the kids because he was so easy to ride. So, he was a perfect fit for her needs -- not so much for ours.

In your case, you can either give this horse some time to come around and accept that he may or may not, or just find him the right home and find yourself the right horse. If you do want to try keeping him, perhaps you can tell us what you know about his previous life (use, training, housing situation, etc.) and how things are now. Maybe I could make some suggestions as to what might help turn him around, though like I said, he may never change.

Bottom line, you are clearly a caring and loving horse owner, so this is no reflection on you, my dear.

Susan K
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