Bonding with your horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-26-2012, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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Bonding with your horse

What are some good ways to bond with your horse? Gain trust and understanding, and give them a reason to really like you and want to be with you?
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 12:34 AM
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Very, VERY simple - and no black stallion 'my horse would die to protect me' rubbish either.

Provide your horse with a leader - you.
It's not hard, just don't allow your horse to walk all over you, he is not to enter your 'personal bubble' without being invited first, he is not to in any way, make you move your feet. He is not to put his teeth or hooves on you.
Create a horse that is respectful to your boundaries, and you will have a horse that trusts you.

You can give him as many apples, carrots, pats and brushes as you like, but unless you give the horse a leader, he won't trust you.

~Horse & Hound Artistry~.

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post #3 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 12:47 AM
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Besides gaining respect as mentioned by Kayty....just being with your horse without lots of chatter is wonderful. Standing with your horse while it is tied in peace and quiet while gently and slowly grooming teaches patience and acceptance. No loud noises, no shouting or speaking paragraphs or rushing. Let your horse read your thoughts with your touch.
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 12:50 AM
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Are you familiar with Join-Up? It's an exercise founded by Monty Roberts, one of the best at Natural Horsemanship (in my opinion!) It's main aims are to gain the horses trust in a way that he can understand, using your own body language to communicate and being able to read his signals as he communicates back. I did a lot of reading on it myself years ago before I first tried it and it worked great first time. Any horse can do it as it's naturally done in the wild as well. Working with your horse is different to working with another animal, such as a dog. Humans at the end of the day are predators and can therefore relate properly to other like-minded animals (the dog). Horses are prey animals and so a whole different language appears that you have to understand in order to begin to bond properly with your horse. If you want I can give a description on how to do the join-up and what to look for,let me know! You can also look on youtube etc as theres plenty of videos on there!
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post #5 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 12:59 AM
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How to bond, gain trust & understanding? Very, very basically...

Start with being a Good Thing in his life. Horses learn by association, so make sure you're linked with the niceties. I don't think there is anything at all wrong with *appropriate & well timed* food treats as rewards either. Whether for training, strengthening/changing associations or 'just because', positive reinforcement is a powerful 'tool'. *Just be careful not to reinforce the Wrong things!

Set boundaries(or 'manners') & be consistent about them, but don't lose your temper or cause him to fear you when it comes to 'correcting' his 'mistakes'.

Bother to learn to understand him, his bodylanguage & natural behaviour & psychology the best you can, which will in turn help you communicate your ideas to him in a way he can understand.

Be considerate & fair about his natural behaviours & attitudes & work towards getting desirable and eliminating undesirable behaviour in a non-confrontational way.

Originally Posted by Kayty View Post
Create a horse that is respectful to your boundaries, and you will have a horse that trusts you.

You can give him as many apples, carrots, pats and brushes as you like, but unless you give the horse a leader, he won't trust you.
Agree thoroughly with the second part, but not the first. I don't think consistently teaching horses boundaries makes them respect you(I don't think true respect can be forced anyway) or trust you unconditionally. But I do think it is a necessary step along the way.
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 01:06 AM
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Look up the 'Join Up' thread under Natural Horsemanship
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post #7 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 01:06 AM
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Loosie, I have yet to find a horse that doesn't respect its owners boundaries, to trust its owner. The horse has always got the sense that it has to be the leader, and hence the element of trust is lost.
I didn't say it had to be forced. Simply maintained. You're not beating the horse up, merely not allowing it to step all over you. I don't particularly want 500kg to be jumping in my lap if it gets a fright...

It is a balance between not allowing the horse to cross your boundaries, and giving the horse 'nice' time. Yep, I brush my horse, give them a few cuddles and pats, carrots etc. But I don't believe that alone is what makes them trust me. It is the fact that I provide them with a leader and they know that I'm not going to force them into something that will hurt them.

~Horse & Hound Artistry~.

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post #8 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 01:08 AM
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Horses are pretty good judges of character. If you genuinely care for them, they will figure that out. However, if you are not strong enough to make them mind, then you aren't strong enough to be desirable as a friend.

That doesn't mean you abuse them into submission. Something that has really helped me is taking my dominant & very fearful mare for walks on a lead. Yesterday we ended up walking 3 miles, although that story has some odd parts to it.

But while walking with her, I've been able to learn how she reacts. When is she fearful vs doesn't feel like it vs trying to be dominant? What corrections are viewed by her as fair discipline (which she craves) and not bullying (which she will not tolerate)?

There is a delicate balance. Push a spirited horse to far, and they stop wanting to work with you. Push too little, and they won't respect you. Much of good training and riding is based on understanding the individual horse, and I found walking with her and viewing how she reacts from the ground a very good way of learning how to read her - altho I still screw it up at times!
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"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 01:13 AM
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I usually just sit in my horse's hay pile and watch, talk to, or pet them. I also brush them and do things like that. It helps me understand horses in general more and I find it relaxing. I began training a horse about 2 months ago and I didn't try doing any kind of work for a few weeks because I didn't know him and he didn't know me. So I'd brush him, pet him, etc. I would let him eat the grass around the edges of the round pen after I finished working with him. When he walked, I'd follow him and play with his mane/tail and talk to him. By following him, I showed that I was trying to be his herd. When a horse follows you, it means you're a herd member that's trustworthy and safe.

That's just my way of bonding with horses. I have a bunch of other ways that can be hard to describe. Just try to think of their natural instincts and why they would do what and when. That's what I do. Every horse I've used those methods on have followed me around, worked best with me, and have better trust with me.
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-27-2012, 01:16 AM
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i found that bringing my QH home helped a lot he wasnt just being used when i was out there groomed, ridden and then thrown back out with other horses. now hes with 2 other of my horses and i feed, clean, work around them tring to get my barn ready to be sanded and finnished, or fencing, ridding around him. hes very happy being with me and will do almost anything asked of him. my other gelding is happy being lead around outside, groomed, ridding, and other work that includes him he likes to be close. my moms gelding i bought last year was untouchable, he was broke and amazing once on a halter/lead, and couldnt touch him butt or head and neck. now i can touch anywhere but ears (still working on that) he comes right up. can ride around bareback and with nothing on, he just needed some ground work and ridding and learn that we arent going to hurt him and now we can see him for him. he loves to smell our faces/hair, and be close but not too close, groomed, and loves to trot! he gets into his ZONE! while troting down the road!

i spend a lot of time out with them and each get their own time as each like to do different things. and i did a lot of lounging and some down south training with cody to get him to think that hes not the boss over us and it worked a lot!
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