Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
Many people get into trouble when they try "join-up" simply because they don't know when to add pressure or when to release.
For example, a smart horse will learn that if he just stops running and comes to you, that you will stop chasing him.
This does not mean that he has submitted, this means that he has outsmarted you.
First of all, you never let the horse decide when the "lesson" is over, simply because he comes running to you. Horses like that eventually become unwilling all together, stubborn and even mean if they feel they can easily get out of doing what you want simply by being slow or sticking close.
That being said, if the horse already has issues with being with/coming to you, you don't want to discourage this. Reward it with a simple pat, wait a second and then ask the horse to move out more strongly than before.
It's also key that you know when the horse is giving you certain signals. Head lowering, plenty of blowing through the nose, body arched inwards, lip licking and always one ear on you. This is when you release all pressure and allow him to come in. If he doesn't, keep on after him but only apply as much pressure as it takes to keep him moving.
Not all horses "join-up" on the first try and some take several reminders. Horses are constantly battling with one another for position in their heirachy, and that includes you as well, so depending on how dominant-natured your horse is, you may need to remind them every now and then.
All that being said, any form of NH shouldn't be done half way. You can't do join-up once and expect it to cure your horses' bonding problems forever. It takes time, dedication, understanding and patience.
If your horse avoids you, that is because he/she sees you as something that needs to be avoided.
Change that. Spend time simply brushing the horse, bringing her treats, take her for a walk or out for grass. Catch her and turn her loose right away so that she doesn't learn to associate you & the halter with unpleasant work. It might not be your fault; she may have learned these habits from past experiences with people, but animals are quite capable of letting go of the past and adapting.
None if this will improve your riding skills, but it will help to improve your horse's opinion of you and make her more willing or even eager to be with you ;)
"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly." www.wildestheartart.com