Interesting for you to say this, considering all the research that's ever been done on animals like horses and dogs....it all says the same...there's the pack leader and there's the horse herd leader. There has to be for the good of the herd and the pack.
When a horse is with another horse, they can figure themselves out. One is dominant and the other is submissive. Watch horses. You'll see the pecking order happen naturally.
When a human steps in, you can bond all you want, but a horse doesn't think of you as "my pal Sally"...he or she thinks of you as ... are you dominant or are you submissive? Dominant in that you set up the rules (you won't turn your butt to me, I move your feet, I can get in your space anytime I want to but you're not allowed to get into mine unless asked..i.e. Run over the top of me, push me around, kick me, etc...)
I trained dogs for a while (eventally went back to racing horses because I missed it) I've seen many dogs ruined by the "alpha" and "pack" mindset. Dogs are dogs, you are a person, they know this just as well as you do. I feel the same with horses. If that's your way of thinking, that's fine, whatever, everyone can train their own way. Im just saying, I don't agree with it. I also feel for most people they take the "dominance" thing wayyyy too far.
I believe that a real bond has the human as the "leader" and the horse as the follower, this way the horse feels confidence in you, and in what you're asking. If you're nervous, scared easily, back off or back down or don't follow through....the horse can call your bluff and take over the roll.....and that's where the trouble starts.
I'm curious,....how is it that you bond if you're not putting yourself in a leadership roll? What do you do?
If you let your horse know what is expected of her (she's not to do unwanted behaviors and when she responds in a good way you reward her with a release of pressure...this is what a lead horse does, too)
I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm seriously curious as to what your definition of "bond" is compared to my definition of "leader and follower" because I suspect we're talking about the same things, only putting different "labels" on em.
I don't see it so much as leader and follower. I see it as trust for the most part. Im not going to hurt them, im not going to put them in harms way, I will protect them, etc. my horses know they can rely on me and are completely comfortable around me. Heres an example:
My mare, Praire Debutante (shes been coming up in a lot of my posts lately, she's just an example of so many things) I can go get her in her stall with no problem, harness her with no problem, I kiss on her all the time. When it comes to putting her away at the end of the day, I can brush her, paint her legs and wrap her fine. She never moves, just stands and waits.
Now on the other hand:
I work with my cousin and his son. (my uncle too when he's not on vacation *eyeroll*) they go to get her in her stall, she turns her back, they harness her, she kicks and bites at them, they try to paint her legs and wrap them, she runs back and forth in the crossties dances around picks up her feet and she has occationally kicked at them. And she also pins her ears flat against her head when anyone else comes near her, she recently bit my uncle in the back (i wasnt there though)
I have boneded with her. I spent a huge amount of time with her and she trusts me and I trust her. I never have these problems with her and all I did was spend time, love on her, occationally correct her mistakes, etc. I guess if you want to call that being a leader, ok, but I don't.
I used to think that treats were a bad thing, but I agree with you here. If given correctly so as not to cause mugging, treats can be a good addition to training.
There's clicker trainers who use nothing but treats and turn out good horses like Allan Pogue.