I have been mulling over your issues brought up here, and I think
the bottom line is this; It can be extremely hard, in some areas for whatever reason, to "break into" the horse world if you don't meet any of the following criteria:
1) being a horse owner,
2) have been riding with a specific trainer that is somewhat known in the community for a significant amount of time,
3) are capable at present time of becoming a legitimate and highly valued volunteer at a horse rescue or rehab facility. Being "incapable" usually just means that currently, you are lacking knowledge about significant important aspects of horse care and training-thus--you become a sort of "hindrance" rather than a helper to the staff of trained volunteers--unless, of course, they have the time and are organized enough to train you in basic horse care and barn care tasks.
Sometimes in the volunteer world, people are turned away due to lacking in having enough free time which you are able or willing to contribute significant amounts of to the effort the facility needs the volunteers to put in. Many rescues require their volunteers to commit at least 4-8 hours/week to working there for free.
Sometimes, it takes you having significant donation monies to offer the rescue...In the case of a good source of funding some rescues will fall over backward trying to give you the "lovey-time" you are looking for with their equines, since what they need are two things...helping, available personnel and MONEY...if you have a lot of either
to donate, most rescues and rehabs are more than happy to let you hang around all day petting and loving on the rescues (once the work is done or the check is written, of course!).
If I were you, this is what I would do...I would continue with your riding lessons (you said you had about 2 1/2 months of such under your belt?) and see if you can volunteer some additional time on other days at the instructor's barn. I imagine you have already signed a waiver stating you will not sue if you are injured during the normal course of your lessons or sue for anything occurring in the normal time you spend at the barn before, during, and after a lesson, thus, you can safely (in their eyes) be on the property at pre-planned intervals and not be a liability.
While there, I would be very certain about which horses you are permitted to "bond with" and which are you are not. I'd imagine the trainer's lesson horses would be potential equine bonding partners, and that would only help to further your rapport with the same horses you are riding in lessons. But, as is most always the safest approach, avoid doing anything around the barn or with the horses without getting specific permission from the owner of the horse and the barn, (if this is not the same person). As well, be sure that you request this permission before/during/or after your scheduled riding lesson time
, and do not disturb your trainer during his/her work, and never during another student's lesson time, as that is inconsiderate and would likely be highly frowned upon, as you surely understand because you probably wouldn't want your time interrupted, either!
It's not easy, especially since your goal, while quite acceptable and a very positive one causing no harm to anyone and probably brings you and the horses receiving the love many positive feelings, is honestly a somewhat
This is because "most people" (for whatever that generalization is worth!) either want to ride and learn a specific discipline (as you mentioned in your initial post, "I had taken this sudden interest in horses as companions as opposed to the competitive, sporty animals we culturally see them as")
; want to own or possibly lease a horse, and thus establish the sort of bond you are describing with the horse they are responsible for, (even if they never plan to ride it or do anything more than groom, care for, talk to and spend time with the horse). Some will engage in horsemanship purely as a business opportunity (sale/breeding, etc...), and others will become equine rescuers or rehabbers (or both) and use their love for horses to care for those who have had previously abusive owners or have been abandoned by their owners, or some combination of both.
Since most people do not choose to establish bonds with random horses owned and cared for by other people, it is probably understood that what you look to do may be viewed with some suspicion. Thus, you may have been seen as doing something "unusual" in your last barn experience and they used the "nip" from the horse episode as an easy excuse to help you to move along. I am absolutely not trying to be hurtful here, I am just wanting to give you some true-life feedback about what may have occurred at the previous facility. Many people are very narrow minded, and if they cannot see themselves doing something, well, there is no way they can believe you were there simply to meet your "horse-fix". It possibly made it uncomfortable for them, having you there. As well, perhaps there was a possibility that they viewed having a young person just hanging around, talking to the horses and the people on occasion riding and what not as "odd" and maybe a "distraction"? These are just some ideas...did you try to ask a lot of questions of the boarders at the stable? Did you tend to hang around just watching while others worked with their horses/tacked them up/groomed them, etc...?
I have been at barns where there have been retired folks who have come out simply to feed and love on the horses, and have (totally inadvertently, and without even realizing what they were doing) become something of a nuisance; constantly talking to trainers trying to prep for upcoming lessons/grooms trying to get horses blanketed quickly and who did not have time to chat, as this was their job, and they had only so much time to spend.
I did not expect to write a novel and apologize for the length of the post, but as you are moving forward with your quest, I wanted to not only give you some ideas about the ways to break into the horse-world that are a bit more "socially acceptable", but also try and give you some ideas about possible reasons for the (obviously) lingering questions you have about why you were asked to leave that barn over seemingly "nothing", and then not permitted to return.
I truly wish you the best with your future acquisition of a good barn with warm and accepting people around that will see having someone near to love on their horses as an asset and not a liability! Please let us know how it goes for you. If I can think of any ideas to get you into the "arena" (pardon the pun!) any faster, I will return with them...
Best to you! B2H