New Horse Bonding? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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New Horse Bonding?

I just got my horse, and it's arriving at the stable today. I was asking my trainer what I could do with it to bond. She kind of looked at me funny. Of course I'm leaving him to rest in his stall today after his drive. She said tomorrow I can take him out and groom him. I asked her about some of the stuff I had read on here like sitting with him in his stall. She said it was dangerous to sit with him in his stall because he could get spooked and I would be in a big box with him at that point. She said I could sit outside his stall and talk to him if I wanted, and give him a treat or two. She said to remember that it's a horse and not a puppy or a doll. So I want to know what do you think would be some ok things to do? I don't want to be that idiot that's wandering around the stable screwing with my horse, but I don't want to be scared to show up and enjoy him either. I was thinking that it would be ok to come by once or twice a day and groom him (just once), pet him for a few minutes, give him a treat in his bucket. Nothing really long so he has time to be a horse, but is like 5-10 minutes ok? I know this is probably all more for my benefit than his. He probably just wants to eat and make horsey noises. The people I got him from said that he loved to come hang out with them when they sat outside together instead of staying with the other horses. I guess I have this romantic image of me just sitting with him, reading a book, while he munches on his grass, and him coming over every once in awhile for a mane scratch...
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post #2 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:44 PM
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Bonding, in as much as a horse will bond with a human, takes time. it's a result of long time spent together. However, a skilled horseman can get on a horse and in minutes have that horse responding to him as if they had spent years together . Still, horses often reserve a special kind of attention for the one that they see the most often, especially if that person feeds them.

For now, I'd just observe your horse a lot. And does the horse have to be in a stall? does it have some place to be outside where it can move around? right now, it's probably a bit in shock, what wtih new sounds, smells, other new horses all at once. If it can be out in the open, with the ability to move around, it might feel better. Unless, it must be quarantined for awhile, or this stall it's ine is the quietest place for a day of settling in.
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post #3 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:45 PM
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You don't really say what kind of facilities you have, but I would suggest walking with him (on a lead rope). Seems to have worked for me, anyway. Spent about a year walking my mare (for rehab after an injury), working up from a few yards around the corral to several miles of trail, before I ever got to ride her.

PS: And I'd echo what tinylily says about being in a stall.
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Last edited by jamesqf; 09-21-2013 at 02:47 PM.
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post #4 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:47 PM
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In my opinion there is a happy medium. I personally think that bonding is essential to gaining trust for both you and your horse. The more time that you can spend learning to understand each other and learning each others quirks and likes and dislikes the more comfortable you will feel as your training relationship moves ahead together. At the same time until you do know your horse and they have relaxed from their journey I wouldn't suggest putting yourself in too much danger like by sitting in his stall until you know how he will react to his new surroundings. All of my horses act more like big dogs at times than horses. I like that, I like have a close relationship with my horse but everyone is different :)
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post #5 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for responding! I felt kind of dumb asking a question that has been answered but I think this is a little different because im new and the horse is new and i need to be safe and not in his face.

My trainer owns the stable and she says its best to turn him out alone for three hours in the morning. He's going to be in his stall a little more than normal at first so she can observe him since we have a two week trial on him. (not that he is going back. he's mine!)
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post #6 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
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The place I'm boarding him at has large stalls (well I think they are big, they are half the size of my master bedroom) with open windows in each stall and a field for each little group of horses. She said he would be turned out with the other geldings each night after his settling in period
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post #7 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 02:51 PM
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Don't spoil him with treats or anything, but yikes! Don't be afraid to spend as much time with him as you want..enjoy!
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post #8 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 03:05 PM
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Congrats with a new horse :)
I got a new horse 3 months ago, about now we have achieved some kind of trust - he lets me groom him everywhere, massage a sore leg, lead him around, and he respectfully gives me space around him.. it took 3 months. Ok, possibly could have been done faster, but every day I went to him a few times, gave a few pets, a hug, just chatted a little, watched him graze, watched him play with his friend. Every time he came up to me in the pasture he gets a pat and a few good words. He willingly comes to halter, leads fine and enjoys my company. I have never bribed him with treats, he just occasionally gets to spend quality grazing time alone with me, and sometimes I take him out of the pasture to feed as his bucket is bigger than his buddy's and the other one will steal what he doesn't finish (he needs to gain weight, the other one just needs to stay where he is).
Grooming and petting will help a lot, but also other work. I bonded with the other horse that I ride very very fast, however he is a more trusting horse to start with, but my horse is 3 yrs old and doesn't do much, and cannot even atm..
be patient, work and spend some quality time together :)
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post #9 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 03:17 PM
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In my opinion you bond with a horse by: grooming, feeding, training, and riding them regularly. That's what I've always done with mine and it's worked a treat. I have two horses right now that are always happy to see me, come willingly to me to in the pasture, and for the most part are pretty honest workers. Even if they have their off days or training issues under the saddle, we still have a "bond" in that they know I'm their leader, feeder, groomer, and cleaner. If I go sit in my pasture or paddock with a book and read it won't be long before I have one or both horses coming over to greet me and just "hang out." It's a process that takes time and requires you to put in the effort in all the areas I listed above.
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post #10 of 52 Old 09-21-2013, 04:25 PM
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Also don't be frustrated if he seems a bit "off" for the first week or so. His environment is new, the routine may be different, new neighbors, etc. It may be hard for him to focus on you at first but just keep at it. Grooming, hand walking, all that good stuff that allows the two of you to get acquainted! Congratulations (and pictures please!!)
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