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Emotionally Unavailable Horse? Help!

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    06-08-2011, 09:32 PM
Mind you. I am super green regarding horses. I can recommend Join up, because I tried it myself and it helped me a lot. As regards Parelli, I am definitely taking the advice given by JustDressageIt, since I have not tried it myself. I was going to start tomorrow with one of those games, but having read that, I am having second thoughts...
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    06-08-2011, 09:37 PM
Originally Posted by referhannah    
I've been riding him consistently for about two months. I've tried hand grazing because he doesn't get turned out often (he's a pasture bully), but he never seems to notice I'm making an effort for his benefit.

Do you do anything special with your horse that he/she enjoys? :/
Well hand grazing to me is a time to relax and just get used to being around one another. Nothing special per se in the arena but I enjoy having one on one time with her and goofing off. :). I've had her for about 12 years though so I'm aware of what she does and does not like or if she is not feeling it. I agree with Maura and jdi that all horse's are different and some are not as playful or fun as others. One of the horse's at my barn pins his ears at everyone all the time and hates to be pet. He's has been that way since I started riding there and has never been cuddly with anyone - just how he is. Like the grouchy old man down the street. If you have been working with this horse for two months it sounds like that is just who he is. But don't fret! If he respects you on the ground and in the saddle you are communicating with him effectively, which in my opinion is pretty great!
    06-08-2011, 09:38 PM
I just want him to be happy. He's had fleeting glimpses of enjoying my affection, so I know he's capable.

He's talented and in the prime of his life, so maybe I should save the putzy fun games until his retirement...
    06-08-2011, 10:19 PM
He may be happiest being left alone and not fussed over. Part of his issue may be that he doesn't get turnout with other horses. Being kept isolated can have serious negative side effects on a horse's mental well-being.

That being said, some horses just truly don't enjoy being messed with. My Dad's horse is that way, he despises being groomed or petted, he would much rather you take him out to work and then leave him be the rest of the time. Since he is such a high power/high drive animal, he may benefit from more work.

As for the whole 'emotionally unavailable' thing...horses just aren't built like that. They don't need friends, they need leaders that they can follow and have respect for. Someone that they will have confidence in. In every single horse I ride, a good working partnership is of primary importance followed distantly by an emotional bond. I can have the partnership without the bond and get along great, we just do the job and that's it. However, a bond without a good working partnership is pointless.

Get him working well for you, earn his respect. After that, the bond may or may not come but it will certainly not come before you have his respect.
    06-08-2011, 10:25 PM
That was actually very insightful and helpful, thank you.
    06-08-2011, 10:43 PM
I agree with JDI, Maura, and smrobs.

Some horses don't want (or need) to be specially bonded to one particular person. After all, they are horses. ;)
My own horse is a sweet horse, but was rather stand-off-ish. I'd been riding her for a year and owned her for several months before I felt that she at least looked to me as her trusted and respected leader. It took the ladies that I leased her to 3+ months before they felt the same "bond." It just takes time for some horses. I certainly wouldn't worry about it too much.
    06-09-2011, 11:29 AM
Some horses are just like that, especially because you say he is a pasture bully I suspect he has a very dominant attitude. These personally are my favorite type because they don't back down when you push them in the work, they usually seem to thrive off it. With my horse especially he had not come "out of his shell" until he was really put to work under saddle 6 days a week. They usually enjoy a challenge so teaching them new things is what creates a "bond". However he will most likely stay more aloof and if he's anything like mine - watch out for your feet.
Good luck
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    06-09-2011, 11:49 AM
Originally Posted by referhannah    
I've been riding him consistently for about two months. I've tried hand grazing because he doesn't get turned out often (he's a pasture bully), but he never seems to notice I'm making an effort for his benefit.
Why would he see eating as an effort for his benefit? Food is necessary.

Some horses simply do not have a personality.
    06-09-2011, 11:56 AM
Originally Posted by mls    
Why would he see eating as an effort for his benefit? Food is necessary.

Some horses simply do not have a personality.
Agreed. I'm not seeing why this is a hand-wringing emotional issue?

I have 3 horses. Two are total cuddle bugs and one is very standoffish. I accept them for who they are and don't try to force them into some anthropomorphic role I think they should play, in order to feel more bonded to them.

My heart horse despised PDAs, but he had a sterling work ethic and I know had some sort of affection for me. I don't think he would have pined away if I had dropped dead though, he'd just have found someone else on whom to focus his attention.

It's very dangerous to try and assign human emotions to an animal. I never forget no matter how much I love them, that they're big, dangerous, flight animals with minds of their own and millions of years of instincts.

As long as the animal doesn't actively try to hurt you and works well for you under saddle, I don't see the problem.
    06-09-2011, 12:37 PM
I have a horse somewhat like that. He does not care for people petting on him and being all lovey-dovey. He would prefer someone put him to work so he can do his job, feed him, and then put him back in his pasture and leave him alone as a reward. Funny enough, the horse in my avatar is that horse. I promise you his ears were back to his head when I took that picture. Lol.

On the other hand, my barrel racing mare cannot stand it when people are around and don't pay attention to her. She will buck, roll, etc. just to get someone to pet her. I have to say, I really prefer a horse that prefers to be left alone, but I do give her all the attention that she desires.

behavior, bonding, groundwork, horse and rider

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