The moment I purchased my horse he went through serious WP training. And let's just say, my trainer was not very ""natural" and everything me and my horse did together was work. I feel like we have no bond or no real good relationship. Does anyone have any good suggestions to help me create a good relationship with my horse? On the ground and in the saddle. I did do some ground work. I hung out with him and walked him all over the place. Let him graze and just relax. But that just made him think he could pull his head down everytime I lead him and start grazing. Please help
Well that's a question that can open a WHOLE can of worms....
Firstly there is a big difference between a bond and a relationship. The relationship is just how you interact. That can be good or bad. A bond however is different. Some people do not consider there even is such a thing with horses.
Many people come to NH because they want a bond. They see horses following people around, working at liberty and think that is a bond. To me its not. The horse does it because he has been trained to. If the horse comes when you go to the field its because he has been conditioned the 'walking them down' way. If they work at liberty its because first they did it on a 12foot line or roundpen, then the 22foot line etc etc. Again conditioning.
So the question for yourself is what do you consider a bond to be? How do you judge it and what are you looking for?
The think with horses is how we keep them. I mean that in the sense that they are a domesticated animal, yet the lines are also blurred with livestock.
Dogs commonly live with us. So we spend a huge amount of time with them. If they are working dogs, then the work often is things they naturally want to do anyway. Its generally fun or instinctual for them, and when not working we 'hang out'.
With horses its very different. Many people cannot live with their horses. They may be kept on yards, and relatively little time is spent with them. When time is spent its 'doing something'. Riding or training. A lot of this is not fun for a horse. Some of it maybe, but a lot of what we ask them to do is just micro-management of their bodies, removing all control and with no purpose that they can see. Why would they enjoy that?
This is why so many become arena sour, or want to kill their owners on the ground and outside the arena.
I bond comes with responsiblities like any trusting relationship does. Some of those responsibilities may not be convenient for us, or what we want at the time. That is why you have to decide what you want to achieve, what you want to experience with your horse.
You said it yourself, its all been work. We even use that word - work. Horses are gregarious creatures, and curious ones in the right circumstances.
The way I think of building a bond is this. I am not a horse. I never will be nor do I wish to be. Any horse I work with is always aware of that. So I don't try to pretend to be a horse. Instead I provide what the horse needs, (food, shelter, security etc) and I provide other things that make it want to be with me above wanting to be with its herd. I also consider what it wants too. (as I said it has responsibilities for the owner too - not a popular concept)
I enjoy horses, and not just riding them. So I look for things to do that develop them and our bond. As I said horses are curious and playful but their survival instincts often restrict this. By providing security and leadership they feel safe and are able to be curious. So we will go out and explore places and things that they would not explore alone.
Simple things, for example soon it will be rosehip season here. Rosehips are great for their circulation anyway, and horses love them. So we go out rosehip hunting on the common. Its a bit like working a sheepdog. Last year I went out with three horses at once and they loved it.
One of those horse is a dressage horse who was becoming sour. Since introducing these sorts of things his owner says he has become a different and more willing horse.
If I ask it to do something it has a purpose behind it that the horse will see. After a while they come to understand that even when they cannot see the purpose initially, the purpose was there or else I wouldn't ask. This carries into everything we do, and proves very helpful when vets or unexpected circumstances occur.
All of this is done with absolute leadership however. A strong leader can allow (in fact encourages) questions. They will however give strong direction and support. If your horse is pulling to eat grass then be clear and consistent as Tiny says. Give them a bump with the halter before they get to the grass if you need to. Do not allow them to stop where they want without asking. I indicate that its okay to stop, initially by tearing up some grass and offering it them. Soon all it needs is to point to the ground with an open palm and that is the invite to stop and eat. As soon as I move away however, they must follow.