The "click" moment
Just a general question, it's pouring rain here and sitting watching the drops slide down my window, drinking my coffee, I got to thinking - how long do most people feel it can take to reach that point with a horse where personalities "click" ?
Do you feel it is something which is immediate... Or is it sometimes months/years in coming?
And further thought on it... Does a lack of real "click" compromise the human/horse relationship. Does it make a horse less safe or trusting... Or is it merely a human connection and the horse is simply responding in kind to a person who believes wholeheartedly in it?
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For me I knew right away when we first met. I found out who owned her and bought her 2 days later. She has been the best horse I could ever ask for. However one of the other horses I used to ride a bunch scared my senseless the first time I rode her. After about 4 months we were almost inseparable. It's hard telling I guess but I do know that there are several horses I have tried "click" with and it just wasn't in the cards Just my .02 FWIW
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Coming at this from training background? I think much of this "bond" is just a method used to make money for clinicians.
You do not have to "click" with a horse to have it well trained, well behaved, or have it do its best.
And furthermore? This is not how horses think. They do not have to click with horse to decide to follow the lead mare/horse. In fact? They may passionately HATE the lead mare/horse, and will still follow it anywhere.
The whole concept of only by clicking with a horse can you have a safe horse or trusting horse is fairy dust.
There are too many people who make their living riding many many horses in a day, and in some barns, horses come and go weekly. That trainer does not have time to click with each one, nor are they worried about human/horse relationship, other than horse is doing what it is supposed to do.
Much of this nonsense? Comes from people who do not make their living with horses. Unless of course they are clinicians who make a living out of promoting this foolishness.
I say it depends on the horse and person. I am actually one of those 'bond' believers. My first horse was a spooky, crazy nightmare. Nobody wanted to deal with her and she was dangerous. She had no trust in people. I acquired this horse and was quick to learn that the trainer didn't want to deal with her either. I, being new to horses, had no 'big' expectations and no desire to jump on and ride her. Long story short, took my time, spend lots of grooming time with her and gaining her trust. Then went on to lunging, learning body language and communication, her accepting a bridle and then I finally rode her. She trusted me pretty much only. I've had others try to ride her and it was not a pretty picture. I was a beginner rider and learned on her. We went on trail rides, I always felt safe. I would say we had a bond that I can't describe. Even when it came time to put her down, I swear she told me and I was a skeptic about that whole thing before it happend.
Second horse was an OTTB. He was a pushy, dominant horse. However, once he learned that you weren't going to give into him, he was fine. Because of his playfulness and a class clown, I can't say I would ever trust him completely. He was the type of horse that always tried to push your buttons.
Third horse was my percheron. She came to me and really had no personality. She would stick her head in a corner and just sulk. When people approached, she would turn away. She really had no desire for interaction with people or other horses whatsoever. Now, after having her for almost two years, she is a different horse. She has blossomed. She loves people and will gallop, not walk to you when you come into her pasture with a lead rope and halter. She loves children and seems to understand how delicate they are as compared to herself around them. She babysits me on the ground and under saddle. She moves around very cautiously, almost like she knows if she moves suddenly that she could hurt a human. She does get nervous when I am not with her. I had to leave her with my trainer in the arena while I went to get my helmet and the trainer said she went nuts. But when I'm with her she is a patient statue until she is asked to do something from me.
Fourth horse is my 'just turned four' pinto. She is a lot like my percheron as far as babysitting me and being cautious. She is also young and does try to strut her independence here and there. She is also more playful and goofy...always makes you laugh. She has been a joy. I can't say she would be different with anyone else...she loves everyone. She was easy to start under saddle and does/tries to do everything you ask her. She is a people horse all the way around.
I can't say I was looking at this purely from a training standpoint in my previous post. I do not make my money training horses but I do feel like I have a special bond with some and not with others.
As far as training goes I feel like a horse is either trained or not trained. To what degree is a different story, but if someone says "this horse is trained to do x" then anyone who knows how to ride should be able to get on the horse and do "x".
I don't agree with trainers saying they can make you "click" with your horse and so forth. Most the special bonds I share with horses I've ridden usually came from the time spent riding and learning - not from a trainer who promised to make us "click"
AGAIN THIS IS ONLY MY PERSONAL OPINION AND THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER
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But then I start thinking of the many horses I have worked with and realize there have been great differences between how I "feel" riding certain ones.
Some I have just instinctively known were "safe" (as in never actually trying to be willful or hurt me), even in their worst moments, some who never put a foot wrong - obedient and easy to work with but also that I never had that same safe feeling from, and a few that I really never came to trust at all, even when the horse was well trained.
Now, I was able to ride and handle them all... So I know you don't need a strong bond to set up a badic communication with a horse and have it obedient, but there were differences in how I was feeling and I am sure this is, at least somewhat, transferred to the horse. I'm sure other trainers have felt the same way - you can train 50 horses, you might remember them all but a few you will remember well - some because they were difficult and others because they were just special - there was something there with them others didn't give you.
So I'm not sure the whole concept of "clicking" is totally bogus... Entirely necessary to be safe? Probably not. Are safer with it? I wonder.
It got me curious how others feel on the subject.
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I can't speak for my horse, but I can say that I own him because of the very first ride I took on him. I rode 3 other horses that same week when I was shopping, and only this one stayed in my mind to the point where I had to buy him.
We spent a few years coming to agreements on things such as how fast we go when out cantering in fields, who was more stubborn and was going to win things such as moving past scary objects, and how much I could push his buttons to get productive work done.
Fast forward to now and we're completely on the same page about pretty much everything. We're two peas from the same pod.
I think the initial click is immediate and either there or not. The rest of the equation does need to be built over time.
My first horse...the relationship was strictly between her and I. If anyone else tried to have a relationship with her, she flipped out. My TB would have given anyone the same 'I am going to always test you' behavior. This horse I didn't feel bonded with, just respected by. My percheron is a little more flighty with people she is not familiar with. My pinto stock would love on anyone, not only me.
I definitely believe that there can be that "click" between horse and human. I don't think it's necessary for a working relationship, but it definitely exists. I think it has a lot to do with how the personalities of horse and human mesh together over time.
My example is my baby, who regardless of whether I own him or not I will always consider mine. The first time I rode him, I wasn't the biggest fan. I liked him, but felt nothing special. However, working together over time I grew to love him and we learned to understand each other on a deeper level than I've ever had with a horse before. He is not by any means a "safe" horse to ride. He doesn't mean harm to his rider, but he's very spirited and stubborn. In spite of this, I trust him whole heartedly and will not hesitate to try new things on him. We have such a deep understanding of each other that I always know how he will react to things, and he never throws anything that I can't handle. He's tries his heart out for me and rides better for me than anyone I've ever seen ride him. I definitely think that's something special.
Because I had rehomed a horse, a new one entered the fold, much younger than the retiree. The retiree and I had had an incredible rapport as he seemed to read my mind. Of course this type of relationship didn't exist with the new horse but I did spend time with him. A year later another new horse arrived and a few months later the old boy had to be put down. The first horse was a real people horse while the other was scared of everything so where did my focus go, but to settling him. Months went by when I realized the first horse had been begging for attention but I felt no connection. In hindsight, it was part of the grieving process as I'd had the one for 23 years. I had to force myself to spend time with the first one and each day it got better. One early spring day I'd taken my stool to make combing out his mane easier. He kept moving forward and I'd back him up. I then realized he was inviting me to get on. Because the footing was so poor I opted not to, but it sure blew my socks off. That was when I began to feel the connection.
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