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Chele11 12-17-2010 03:53 AM

Bonding
 
I looked at quite a few (online and in person) horses before deciding to buy Chili. The moment I saw her, I knew she was a strong possibility (if I could haggle the price!) When she bucked and I had to jump off (I'd have stayed on had my foot not been broken), I laughed when I hit the ground. Her (previous) owners were taken aback and said she'd never bucked before. I was mortified when the (previous) owner launched a foot at Chili's side (not hard, but I'd never kick a horse!!!)

The rest is history.

I've had her for 2 wks now and have seen her 11 of the 14 days. (dam* snow and ice) I handle her EVERY time I'm with her. If I get to the barn and she's in her stall and it's warm enough, I bring her out, rub her, talk to her, brush her and hand feed her a little (a couple handfuls) of grain. Only once has she held her head over her stall and just let me touch her. Most of the time, the moment I enter her stall, she moves away from me. When she's out in the pasture, she walks or trots away from me. Sometimes if I talk to her and tell her "Whoa," she'll stand still long enough for me to touch her and get ahold of her halter and rub on her some more.

I don't wear perfume or lotion (altho I need to, my hands are so dry!). I wear the same clothes each time and the detergent I use is always the same. I want her used to my smell...

But it doesn't feel like we're bonding at all. I know it's only been 2 wks and perhaps I'm expecting more, but it's a bit disheartening when the one thing I've wanted all my life -possibly doesn't want me.

Any other suggestions on getting her to bond/become more affectionate? Does it just take time and if so - how long? Are we talking weeks, months, years? Never? Maybe?

I want to bring her a treat with me to the barn but I don't know what she'll like. I'd rather it be something small so she doesn't think it's "food" and nothing too messy. I've been reading on treats and a lot of suggestions were for regular ole items I'd eat that she might like as well. We tried candy canes the other day bc we thought she'd like one. Nope. Neither horse did, tho. She loves the salt lick, so I'm thinking of something salty... but what?

mbender 12-17-2010 07:06 AM

Ok, this made me smile and brought me back to when I first got my arab mare 10 yrs ago.
First off, YOU are not doing anything wrong. In fact you are spending a lot of quality time with her. You are doing what you should.
When I first got my mare she wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with me. She would walk away and avoid contact at all times. I felt the same way you do. But, I just continued to spend time with her. I rode her and she became sour to me showing up because I represented work. So I switched it up. One day I'd show up to ride one day I would show up to take her out for grass.

Mind you, she was in a dry paddock so that became a great thing for her. We would play out in the field. I would take a treat and show her what I had and started to walk away from her. She of course wanted that treat so she followed after me. Eventually if I would start to run the opposite way with the treat she would run with me. It was a great start to our relationship.

We still had problems with her testing me while riding but I stayed with it because I started to fall in love with her. I was stressed most of the time and a little nervous but I did work with a trainer and worked on how to build my confidence.

It took us a year to actually bond. I know that's not what you want to hear but it does take time. How long it will take for you and Chili will depend on you both. Make sure you spend time with her (which sounds like your doing). Treat her like a horse too. She is going to look for a leader and if you prove to her that's what you are she will look for you for safety and friendship.

Do you know any Natural Horsemanship?
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Chele11 12-17-2010 10:12 AM

Thank you. After posting this, I saw older posts about bonding and read them.

I don't know any Natural Horsemanship but am def willing to learn! I saw some videos about Join Up and I might try that...

The downside is that I always have my 3 year old w/me OR it's at/close to dark bc I wait til hubby comes hm to help bc of my foot.
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kitten_Val 12-17-2010 10:44 AM

Some horses are more shy than others, and some just don't like all those "*****" lots of us like to give them. :wink: How do you approach her? Slow and gentle? Or just walk right to her? They are very good about reading the "body signs". As for treats just try everything you can think of: carrots, apples (my paint loves them), pears (my qh is crazy about them), etc. Be ready she may NOT even know what treats are, so you'll have to introduce her slowly to them.

In general 2 weeks is almost nothing to build the bond (unless you are very lucky and you click right away). :-)

rkwells 12-17-2010 03:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mbender (Post 855216)

It took us a year to actually bond. I know that's not what you want to hear but it does take time. How long it will take for you and Chili will depend on you both. Make sure you spend time with her (which sounds like your doing). Treat her like a horse too. She is going to look for a leader and if you prove to her that's what you are she will look for you for safety and friendship.

In total agreement with mbender. With my daughter's horse it took about 1 year to achieve the type of bonding you are aiming for, and the same for my own first horse. Keep doing what you are doing. It takes a horse a LONG time to truly trust you.
I love the line from the movie "UP" when we first meet the dog Dug..."My name is Dug, I have just met you and I Love you." A horse is so different from a dog. It just takes time, patience and dedication and in my experience it can't be rushed. Enjoy the process! :D

equiniphile 12-17-2010 08:30 PM

After spending my entire life with Arthur, I know him like the back of my hand and probably better. I've gotten him to the point where I can ride him bridleless, gallop full-out bareback in a 500-acre field and know he'll stop when I ask, and I trust him more than I've ever trusted another horse. He's the best horse in the world and I would trust him with my life.

Molly, my OTTB, I really didn't bond with for the first few months I owned her. She liked me, yes, and she respected me, but she didn't look forward to seeing me like Arthur does everyday. When I started Parelli, things took a 180. She looks forward to "play" sessions, looks forward to seeing me come in the pasture and spend time with her, and perks up when she sees the rope halter. I would definitely reccomend Natural Horsemanship to help you bond with her.

Other than that, you're doing great. It takes time but eventually she will see you as the leader and not only accept you, but enjoy your company.

PaintHorseMares 12-18-2010 07:17 AM

I agree with the previous comments...just a few things to add...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chele11 (Post 855181)
But it doesn't feel like we're bonding at all. I know it's only been 2 wks and perhaps I'm expecting more, but it's a bit disheartening when the one thing I've wanted all my life -possibly doesn't want me.

Get this thought out of your mind! Horses want safety and food. If you provide those, your horse will always 'want' you.

Quote:

Any other suggestions on getting her to bond/become more affectionate? Does it just take time and if so - how long? Are we talking weeks, months, years? Never? Maybe?
You already answered your question...any of the above. Some horses are much more affectionate that others and/or show it in different ways than you may expect. In any case, for a horse with a new home, herd, and owner, it can easily take 3+ months for the horse to just settle in. Real trust will take even longer. My tip...horse love routine and hate change. The more consistant you can make your routine (visits, brushing, feeding, etc), the faster your horse will relax and be comfortable.

Quote:

I want to bring her a treat with me to the barn but I don't know what she'll like. I'd rather it be something small so she doesn't think it's "food" and nothing too messy. I've been reading on treats and a lot of suggestions were for regular ole items I'd eat that she might like as well. We tried candy canes the other day bc we thought she'd like one. Nope. Neither horse did, tho. She loves the salt lick, so I'm thinking of something salty... but what?
Again, horses like what they know, and anything new, even a treat, can take a while for them to accept. We don't treat much, and like to stay with simple things...only an apple or carrot every once in a while. If you're hand feeding, offer the treat and if the horse doesn't want it, put it in a feed pan with the feed. Eventually most will finally try it. Our youngest mare would snort at a carrot for a year before she actually tried one. After that she'll follow you anywhere for one.

And finally, as you're giving your horse some 'slack' while settling in, remember to not let her get away with any bad manners. That will set the wrong tone for the relationship and be harder to fix later.

Saskia 12-18-2010 08:44 PM

It takes a good year with most horses. In my experience younger horses are a bit faster.

Although with some horses you'll never get that bond. You might have mutual understanding but some horses will never want to be that close to a human.


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