My horse doesn't enjoy spending time with me, thoughts? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Murfreesboro, TN
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My horse doesn't enjoy spending time with me, thoughts?

At the risk of sounding like one of those touchy-feely-horses-are-just-like-big-puppies people... I would like some advice and perspective on my bonding with my horse.

I bought her in December 2014, and she is my first horse. All throughout the winter, I rode when I could and spent a good deal of time with her just loving on her, grooming, feeding, just being around her in the barn. She is pasture boarded with around 10 other horses. I am good friends with the BO/trainer, so I go out there multiple times a week to ride, have lessons and sometimes just hang out.

The "issue" I have is that... I'm not sure my horse actually enjoys our time together. Now, I know I know-- I'm not looking for my horse to like me per se, respect yes-- like... that's a bonus. However, I don't know if we have built up that bond enough to where she trusts me. Does that make sense?

What are some things or exercises you have done that I could try? We work at least 1-2x per week in the arena and also do trails at least once a week, if they are clear. I have done roundpen work with her once ( with my trainer). I know no one can give me a definitive answer on how much time together ='s a connection. There's no real indicator that she has given me that she even acknowledges who I am or what I'm there for. I read a lot of people who's horses come up to them at the gate or follow them around even without a lead. We just aren't there yet and I'm wondering what some next steps for me could be. I was hoping after several months of me being a pretty consistent human in her life there would start to be some connection or at least acknowledgement.

I am not a treat person, either. I have nothing against them at all, and they work well for plenty of people. I just don't like going out to the pasture with treats and not knowing if a new horse is boarded there and be ambushed by a bunch of ponies looking for treats! ... In the barn, I give her treats very rarely, which she could take or leave. She isn't big on carrots or apples, either.

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The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon
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post #2 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 03:05 PM
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You have to be the horses teacher, before you can be their friend.

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post #3 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 03:05 PM
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Go by yourself just you and your horse and do ground work. Join up is a good one.
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post #4 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 03:21 PM
Green Broke
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It’s possible that the two of you just don’t have that connection. It happens to a lot of people, and some horses just don’t “click” with the people who happen to own them. As long as you work well together and she’s not exhibiting avoidant behaviors (turns her butt to you, has tight lips or a “worried” expression when you go to mount, takes short/choppy steps – anything indicative of pain), I’d say it can be a good partnership, just maybe not the particular partnership you’re looking for.

I have met horses that it took me a long time to connect with, some I never liked, some I clicked with instantly. They’re like people in that way. It took me a long time to really “connect” with my QH gelding because he had an “all business” personality. He didn’t care about petting or all that “mushy” stuff, he wanted to get to work - he LIKED to work. He was like Clint Eastwood’s character in “Gran Torino” – grumbly, grouchy, crusty old man on the outside, but once you got past the exterior he would walk through fire for you. On the other hand, my mule I connected with instantly. It took maybe 2-3 times of me coming out to see him when I first got him before he recognized me and would follow me around the pasture. He LOVED people, he LOVED being paid attention to, he loved kisses and hugs and mushiness. It was like owning a long-eared unicorn.

If you work well together and she’s generally easy to work with, there’s probably zero need to worry. She may like it just fine, but just not get terribly excited about it. She might just be a slightly aloof personality and that’s the way it will always be.
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post #5 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 03:46 PM
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Location: Olds Alberta Canada
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face it, a horse is not a dog, who prefers the company of his special person, over a member of his own kind
What are your expectations? My horse also greet me at the gate, in winter, when they associate me with being fed! In summer, when they have pasture, I usually have to walk out and get them, as I don't call them up with treats.
This is fine by me. As long as that horse is easy to halter, is happy to ride off alone, works for me with a good attitude, I don't expect a 'Hollywood horse type romance, where ven that wild stallion leaves his herd of mares, for that special boy/girl
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post #6 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 04:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Minnesota
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It sounds like you are doing all the right things to break through that trust barrier. Continue what you are doing. Have you tried any of Clinton Anderson's ground training for respect? Great exercises that helps your horse focus on you.
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post #7 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 04:36 PM
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I agree with Smilie.

I have three geldings - have owned them for years - I work with them five days a week. One ALWAYS comes to the gate to greet me. Another comes to the gate when he wants in for grain. The other (who I would say I have the closest connection to) never comes to the gate.

And yesterday, I brought the one in (he trotted to the gate) and then two others told me to go away (aka - I could not catch them) because it was really nice out and they didn't want to come in - hasn't happened for years.

I wouldn't take it personally. Keep working with your horse and loving it and you both will come to know each other. Coming to the gate doesn't mean they love you........well, they might love you.....or, they might just see you as the person to walk with if they want grain/hay, etc.

Yes - I totally feel they use me. I accept it! :)

But like another poster said, if the horse is well-mannered and not giving you grief on the ground or in the saddle, it might just not have a touchy-feely personality. (obviously, if the horse is acting sour, that's another issue)

Just like people, some of them love being fawned over and others are less "emotional". Doesn't make the person/horse connection bad....just different.
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post #8 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 05:27 PM
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horses that are pasture boarded don't develop that "clock" where they know when the food is coming, and who brings it. or, shall I say, it's not YOU who is bringing the food. so, they are even less interested in teh company of humans than a stall boarded horse, to whom humans usually mean something either good, or at least interesting to break the boredom.

pasture horses would rather be out with the gang, eating. why would they want to be with you?

the horse I ride is pasture boarded. he comes to me only when he realizes there is not miuch else to be done (because I'll walk him down if he doesnt) , and, he gets a carrot. if I did not have a line on him, he would not follow me.

we have moments when I can tell he relaxes and goes into the "zone" . the "zone" is that sort of total relaxation and acceptance of the NOW that horses have when they are out just hanging with the herd where they know their place and are happy about it and eveyone just "is" with everyone else. that usually happens after out ride, when he is just standing waiting for me to put stuff away , maybe getting some belly scratches (which is a great way to get a horse "with" you) and ready to go back to his herd.

sometimes you have to make being with you more compelling than not being with you. that can be via treats, scratches, or even work. whatever makes the horse BE with you now is what makes him want to be with you. even work suffices , beleive it or not.
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post #9 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 06:02 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: CT USA an English transplant
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I've always found that horses that live out 24/7 with a 'herd' have less need for humans than horses that spend some of their time in a stable even when other horses are included in that scenario
They come to rely on you a lot more.
I do find that I get on better with some horses than I do with others but I still don't see horses like large Labrador dogs and I never have, even as a child.
As long as they're obedient to what I ask of them, respectful, good mannered and good to ride (if they are kept for riding) then that's all I ask for.
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post #10 of 30 Old 04-20-2015, 06:15 PM
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Horses are funny creatures. They hate each other out in the pasture, make ugly faces, kick each other, pin ears all that. And then when you're taking one of them away, the others are all of a sudden, "Wait, She's my BFF! You can't take her, I neeeeeeed to be with her!". And then when she returns to the herd, they're making faces and all, "You skank! I hate you, take those heels to your rib cage!". So be glad she doesn't love you like her pasture mate, we're not built tough enough to take that kind of lovin'.

If she's quiet, respectful of your space and allows you to pet her, brush her and kiss her behind the ear occasionally, that's pretty high praise indeed. Really, just having the horse since December is rushing her for developing a relationship. I've raised most of mine since they were babies and still, they'd rather be with their own kind most of the time. But when "my" mare, my special girl, comes in and gets groomed and petted and trained and bathed and loved on, and doesn't fuss because she's feeling secure with me, that let's me know it's all good. When she and I are working together, I'm enough for her, she isn't needing the herd to be secure, that let's me know that the relationship is there and we're good.

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