Horse-Human Bonding - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-29-2008, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Horse-Human Bonding

What factors make one horse bond to a person, while another horse stays somewhat aloft and indifferent? Why can an indifferent horse be very well trained, but never really give its heart?

I believe my horse Tuffy loves me .
I think I might have been the first human he ever bonded to, and I wonder if there lays the answer?

Do some horses harden their hearts due to having loved and lost? Or are some horses just not interested in loving a human? I wonder if a horse, for instance, that once loved a little girl who once loved him, gets heart broke when sold and rejected?

Respectfully, what are your experiences with this?


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post #2 of 23 Old 09-29-2008, 08:11 PM
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I currently have a horse who was loved by a little girl for about 7-8 years. She had moved and her horse was left behind. When I saw him, he looked so lost and just wanted another human. I bought him and now we have an amazing bond. And that was a little over a week ago!

My mare is a horse that will love a human but it has to be the right kind of human. I was not her match, and she made it clear to me. Not in an aggressive way, but the way that we would take 1 step forward, 5 steps back. Then my fiance rode her/started spending time with her, and she's a different horse!
While she still isn't all lovey dovey with humans, she definitely has a better bond with my fiance than with myself.

My other gelding, was most likely abused and neglected to some extend. It took us a while for him to even gain our trust and be calm and relaxed in his stall. Now that we've had him for almost 1 1/2 years, he's a different horse. He'll love on you, come up to you, put his head in your chest so you can hold him, and he's a love bug to everyone! But he also changed a lot since we moved him out of our old barn.

From what I've found, each horse along with each experience/history each horse has will affect how he/she feels about having a relationship with a human. I feel the horses that were either lost (as in they lost their #1 human) and those who were abused/neglected will give you their hearts to try and please you. But there are always exceptions to that.
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-30-2008, 11:02 AM
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I believe that horses are complex animals and that they have personalities that either tend to endear them to humans, to fear humans, to "work" for humans or to truly love them.

Just as you and I may never bond, it is possible for you to bond tightly with someone else.

I think that horse ownership is more than just owning them, I believe it is a partnership and not every horse and human will achieve the same level.

I think that as humans we are capable of understanding and have a responsibility to change and discover what is needed of us to achieve the best bond we are capable of. We are after all the "smartest" animal. We need to keep in mind that smarter doesn't mean better. It just means that we are the ones responsible for relationship management.

Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.

1 Chronicles 28:20

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post #4 of 23 Old 09-30-2008, 01:48 PM
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That is why I love raising my own horses. I have been the only to work with them from the start and it's to me they come. We have excellent horse/human appreciation and tho we tend to have our own thoughts from day to day, the bond I have with them will never be the same as one I would ever get from a horse I have bought (those can be good, but not the same).

Those who are or have raised their own horses know what I mean.

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post #5 of 23 Old 09-30-2008, 06:59 PM
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All my ponies have a rather special bond with my mum, I think mainly cause she is the Food Bringer haha.

On a more serious note...

I think all riders/handlers of horses who are training/competing need some sort of bond that grows from trust and respect. I think humans need to earn it from horses and horses need to earn it from us, treat each other as equals. If we are always in control we will lose the respect of our horse and they won't work with us and start to work against us. So A good balance of work, rest and play is essential to earn the trust and respect of each other :)

My boy Kai and I have had ups and downs with our trust of each other, at the moment I believe it is at a peak, we are working so well together and our trust is just growing and so are the number of blue ribbons :)

But there have been times when I have been unwell due to my allegies of horses and I didn't ride for about 2 years. Kai lost all trust with me over that time as I got caught up in other things including school, friends and boys. When I started riding again, I felt that Kai and I had lost our connection, I think I took him for granted over that time, and I have been working hard to get it back. Also after traveling overseas for months at a time I have always been so nervous to come back to him, but we are definitely in a peak because I feel I still have his respect when I come back to him :) I have owned him for almost 13 years now :)
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-30-2008, 07:36 PM
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Dumas and others put it very well.

I have a mare that bonded with me to the exclusion of everyone else. After a lot of "begging" I sold her to a friend of mine but she is still boarded at my farm. She has a reputation of being a little rank - something I didn't know when I traded for her. To make a long story short, she has never taken a bad step with me but has bucked and carried on with her new owner until I ride her. She regularly chases off my gelding if I show him too much attention.

On the other hand my gelding is OK but we just haven't developed the same bond. Maybe after the mare leaves the farm in another week or so.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #7 of 23 Old 09-30-2008, 10:36 PM
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Just like some people like crowds and some prefer to be alone, horses have similar traits. Some horses do not need and are happy without human company. Others are not and seek out human companionship. A horse can be perfectly respectful but still not need human contact.
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-30-2008, 11:53 PM
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I agree 100% with M2G (I don't get that name because you have on gelding and one mare..) But anyways, I find horses are way different when you raise them. I love and treat all my horses equally but the ones that I have had since day one are much more bonded to me.
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post #9 of 23 Old 10-04-2008, 10:26 PM
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I read a book called
"Ride the Right Horse: Understanding the Core Equine Personalities and How to Work with Them" by Yvonne Barteau.

According to the book:
Social horses are the ones always staring over the stall door that have to be a part of everything. They are one of the easier horses to train, but are easily distracted while being ridden. They bond with many individuals, whether human or horse.

Aloof horses are the "anti-socials", and often stand in the back of their stalls. They rarely bond with other horses and humans, and are usually by themselves in the pasture. They tend to tune things out/ignore aids while being ridden.

Fearful horses are just that; they are startled easily and look to others for support. They like a constant schedule and require a patient, quiet rider. They tend to bond strongly with only one or two people/horses.

Challenging horses love to be on top, and are always pushing the boundaries. The key thing with them is to make sure that they respect you. Otherwise they will find any and every way to take advantage of the inexperienced/fearful rider and exploit the rider's weaknesses. However, they're very competitive and excel in many disciplines with the right handler.

There can also be different combinations of personalities, like aloof-fearful, social-challenging, challenging-aloof, etc. etc.

It was a great read, and it really made me think. It definately makes sense about how different horses bond with people, while others don't.
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post #10 of 23 Old 12-31-2008, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by FehrGroundRanch View Post
I agree 100% with M2G (I don't get that name because you have on gelding and one mare..) But anyways, I find horses are way different when you raise them. I love and treat all my horses equally but the ones that I have had since day one are much more bonded to me.
I know eh. When I first started out on this site tho, I did have 2 geldings and a mare. I should look into a name change huh

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