Need Help Bonding With My Horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-17-2015, 09:00 PM Thread Starter
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Question Need Help Bonding With My Horse

Hi,

So I bought my very first horse 3-4 weeks ago and I really want to get stuck into the world of liberty and creating a good bond with your horse.

The horse I bought has been used to teach girls to ride and basically has been a first horse for a number of years. In terms of riding he is really good and listens, sometimes he can get lazy but not often. I go out in the paddock to spend time with him and he just eats. I'll give him pats and scratches and he totally ignores me. I've heard that lunging your horse is really good for trust and respect. Unfortunately I do not have a round pen and the only area I can lunge him is in a paddock. I tried lunging a few days ago and it went terribly. I put him on the lunge line and told him to go out into a circle. After a few steps at walk he just put his head down and ate. I then cracked the whip (on the ground of course) to get him up and he started bucking and turning away from me.

I really want to be in a partnership with my horse and any help is appreciated.

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post #2 of 12 Old 12-17-2015, 09:38 PM
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I'm no lunging expert but it sounds to me like he doesn't know how to lunge. As far as how to teach him how to lunge, you're asking the wrong person. LOL.
I've never seen what good making a horse run around you on a circle does anyway. I don't have a problem with lunging, but the logic that it makes your horse bond with you seems iffy. (Personally, if someone tried to make me run around in a circle, I wouldn't be very happy with them, but...)
Maybe it does work. I don't know. I think lunging is usually more for respect than bonding. Which, you will find, are two different (though related) things. I can see lunging for respect, though. That makes since.

As for the ignoring you and grazing, that's not a big deal to me. I don't mind if my horses graze while I'm petting on them- although I admittedly favor how Dixie respectively raises her head when I act like I am going to do something with/to her. She is a pretty respectful, sweet mare.

One thing horses like is to be groomed- normally. However, they don't always enjoy it- Pistol isnt crazy about being groomed.

Just give it time, figure out what he likes. If you don't click, it's not the end of the world- Pistol and I don't really click. Dixie and I have a nice bond, and Maverick loves everyone, but Pistol is always ill around me. That's okay. We're still pretty happy anyway. Bonding is a little overrated, in my opinon. It's a wonderful thing, if you can have it. But it's not necessary.
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post #3 of 12 Old 12-17-2015, 10:24 PM
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if you just tried lunging without any experience or training in how to do it right, then it's not surprising that you'd get the sort of outcome that you got. your horse has been used for beginners for a long time, and as such he knows how to protect himself from beginners. he knows how to do enough but no more than is required, and he is used to being around people who do not know how to REQUIRE MORE.

so, if you want more, you need to learn how to require more, and get it.

what does that mean? it's a lot. it's about having a clear intention inj your body, and knowing how to move a horse, where to stand, how to project you body language, and what to do when a horse gets confused and just turns in to you.

there are just tons and tons of threads about lunging here. if you want to learn, take some time to read through them. my guess is that there are many people having the same issue as you.
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-17-2015, 11:51 PM
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You can't teach what you don't know - if you don't know how to longe, and your horse doesn't know what longeing is, it's not going to work.

Forget all notions of the bond - it's all training, trust, and respect. A horse is not like a dog. They won't do those kinds of behaviors that you see in the videos unless they're trained to do them.

I recommend that you find a trainer with experience in groundwork and start there. It is VERY easy to end up with an ill-mannered horse on accident through incorrect groundwork.

* I'm often reading and posting from mobile and Siri loves to make a mockery of the English language.
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post #5 of 12 Old 12-18-2015, 03:40 AM
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I'm just going to put in my two pennies for groundwork-->respect-->bonding. I have a mustang, and she's my pretty wild girl. Proper groundwork does lead to good bonding and trust. She gets where she wants to push me around with her body if I don't let her know I am perfectly capable of being her "boss mare." When I do assert myself and make her move, her head drops, she licks and chews, and when I take the pressure off, she follows me around like a puppy and tucks her head low under my arm so I can scratch her ears.

It's pretty awesome.

My horse has bucked and kicked when I have asked her to move after being "out of work" a long time. I look at it as a test. You have to have enough presence and enough clarity in your body language to make him go, and MAKE him go. Keep a long line and use your energy.

Then don't stop pushing him until you see the mental process in that horse's mind go, "Well shoot, that didn't work. I guess she's the boss. I'd better behave now. Oh, hey, being a good boy gets me lovin'. I could get used to this. Let me follow you lovey person."

Good luck with him.
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-18-2015, 05:22 AM
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First, I'm a bit of a believer in letting a horse have its space. If he is out in his paddock let him be. If you want to groom him and pet him catch him and take him out. In my opinion it's a bit rough to catch a horse in paddock and make them lunge. For the last however many weeks he has experienced the paddock as a grazing, free time area and suddenly you say no, work.

If you really have nowhere else to work with him I would try and develop a routine, perhaps catching him, tying him up, grooming and tacking him then moving to your work area - preferably a bit aside and working with him - no grazing what so ever - then returning, tying him up and feeding him, then finally let him go and leave. Make sure that when its you time he is caught and structured and when he is free then he is left alone.

When people talk about lunging and respect it often is based in the idea of controlling the horses movement and direction. You can do that without lunging too and I'd recommend starting there. With a halter and 12ft lead start working with your horse to yield to slight pressure, moving back, his hind and fore side to side etc. then practice small short circles such as a lap to the left and then a lap to the right - no whip needed. You should be able to control him by moving your body.
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-18-2015, 09:18 AM
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You have a horse that has changed hands several times and for a very short period of time. For the time being, forget about creating a "bond" and look to form a good working relationship. Think less about affection and more about mutual understanding. If you don't know how to lunge a horse, don't know if the horse knows how, and are attempting this on grass, it is not surprising that your horse wants to graze. That is setting you both up for failure. Study the principals of ground work and lunging and find someone with experience to help you
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post #8 of 12 Old 12-18-2015, 11:16 AM
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Woody, the next time you try to lunge the horse, use your left arm, a little higher than your shoulder to point the direction, 10 or so feet in front of his nose. With your right hand point the whip toward his hip and wiggle it. If he gives you only one step, relax your arms, momentarily look at your boots then ask again. If he dives for grass, don't pull on him but give him a good smack on the top of his rump. He'll probably shoot forward and you must let him as forward is what you wanted. He'll slow down so just wait it out. When he stops ask again. Now he knows you mean business. Ask only for the walk. Only when you can get him to walk three circles do you ask for a change of direction. Don't expect him to respond the same as when going to the left. He may resist but progress is one step. Reward that as previously mentioned. You are teaching him so be patient. BTW never crack the whip as it often makes horses resentful if doing it to make him move. Just point and wiggle. As soon as he's walking, lower the tip toward the ground and raise it and wiggle if he hesitates.



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post #9 of 12 Old 12-18-2015, 11:31 AM
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On the "over-50" thread, I got to talking about my current riding horse and our bond - or lack thereof. You might find some of the comments by some of the very experienced people there enlightening. I have. It kind of starts here (post 2979):

https://www.horseforum.com/horse-talk...9/#post8390913

My theory is that if you have a rideable horse, then lunging is of marginal value. Unless you do so for a specific training goal, like working on the horse's balance, etc.

Also, FWIW, I had an excellent "bond" with Mia, but she wasn't very safe for me to ride in the desert...tended to jump sideways when scared, and didn't have any respect for cactus or worry about her footing. She was capable of killing us both - while having the best of intentions! I traded her for Bandit, and she is now primarily a brood mare in very open country about 300 miles from here, where she is welcome to gallop a few miles and can jump sideways without hurting herself or her rider.

I've owned Bandit for 6 months. Not much of a bond, but he's turning into a good trail horse. Having a partnership and having a bond are not quite the same thing.

I guess my advice would be to work on a relation by leading the horse on a lead line, taking him where he'll be happy or relaxed. Apart from that - ride. Lots.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-18-2015, 11:41 AM
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The best way to a horse's heart is through his stomach! What a lot of people mistake for a "bond" is really just the horse being happy to see it's "feeder". We got a horse 2.5 months ago and the first few days, every time we approached him we had a treat in hand. A treat to put his halter on and lead him indoors, a treat for standing quietly on cross-ties, a treat after riding. Then we started to space them out so he only got them at the end of a lesson or when he did something we wanted to reinforce (though never during a lesson). Within two weeks, he was neighing at the sight of me! Now, if your horse is nippy, don't do this. Some disagree with the use of treats as a reward. You can also put a treat on the ground, in a bucket, etc. if you don't want to hand-feed.

A lot of horses like scratches in certain places, but some don't. Spend lots of time grooming so you can discover what he likes. Handle him every day and if you can, feed him as much as possible. And groundwork is a great way to spend time "on his level" so you can both get to know each other. Lunging, in my opinion, is not a good way to create a bond, though it may have other uses.

And as another poster has said, routine is very useful. Good luck!
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