Hey, ladies, hey. Take it easy. Bonding can be a sensitive and personal issue
An adept writer can write a book about the theories of bonding as they might be applied by a rider to his/her horse but in practice the reader might be of a very different mindset to that of the author. Horses certainly come along with varying temperaments and each horse calls for a different approach.
As an example, personally I don’t look for utter obedience from my horse, as I like to leave the animal with room to obey my wishes yet with the freedom to keep us both safe. A trusted steed has covered for my mistakes on many an occasion.
When riding I ask my mare to turn left, by a slight hesitation and a nudge in the flanks; I don’t yank it in the mouth and kick it in the ribs. She knows which way to go.
I ask her to ‘whoah and stop’ by steadying my hand and leaning back a touch; I don’t haul back on the reins. I constantly try to keep the commands subtle and light.
When coming up to a road junction, I start to slow long before the white line and I expect the horse to read my mind. She knows we don’t cross white lines without stopping first.
There is the story of my previous cob coming unbidden to a halt alongside a convenient tree stump in the woods so as to permit me to attend to a call of nature. Afterwards I laughed and laughed but that day, Joe, knew me inside and out and he stood untethered, patiently waiting for me to perform.
On thinking about it, there are numerous occasions when I expect the horse to read my mind and likewise there are lots of occasions when I need to read my horse’s mind. If she is nervous about something coming up, then I must give her a boost of confidence to go forwards. If we are to go down a strange path, she must accept my judgement that it is OK to do so, even if it may be away from home.
When the truck comes too close in a narrow country lane, I’ll tell her to stand, and the wheels will pass just inches from her feet. My hand will stroke her mane, my voice will whisper sweet nothings, but she’ll stand - even if she is wedged in against a hedgerow filled with brambles. She feels safe, cos I‘ve told her she is.
To swim mounted on a horse calls for the rider to convince the horse that it can indeed swim. Yet the horse is a natural swimmer and it knows instinctively how to paddle - even in the sea. The horse must trust the rider’s judgement in testing times and this trait is a key component of any bond.
Horses do read the human mind as well as the human can read the equine mind - so long as the pair are in tune. Dumb the horse may be, stupid it is not. In human relationships, success in a partnership depends upon the two humans involved being ‘sympatico’. For a rider to bond with a horse calls for both human and animal to be on the same wavelength and for a certain comprehension between species.
There are no strict rules for bonding - cohesion between horse and rider becomes all too evident.