I try to reserve what I am considering an affectionate touch for when he is being good during a ride (a gentle touch on the neck and a word or two of praise when he is being especially compliant) or during my "visiting" time on days when I don't ride him. I try to spend at least 5 minutes per day with him even when I don't ride him. I am wondering, though - does he consider the touches to be affectionate or am I really only benefiting myself? He enjoys the scratching and grooming, of course, and the rubbing seems to relax him but I can't really tell for sure. How do horses show affection to each other? I'm no horse, but it might be easier for him to understand and appreciate what I was trying to tell him if I did it the horse way.
This is my first horse and I don't have much horsey experience. I have had him for 6 months and we've had our rough patches but I think we've both really come along in terms of our mutual skill as a horse/rider team. He was green broke when I got him but now he's the perfect trail horse for me. I did all of his wet saddle pads and training myself and I'm really proud of both of us. Don't worry, I'm very firm with him and don't let him get a single toe out of line, but I think it's important to be soft sometimes as well as hard. How do you show affection to your horse? Any input from the community is appreciated!