How To Bond With Your Horse
I am sure you have seen the commercials, a perfect horse and rider team, capturing a perfect moment. Or The winning round at the NFR. We always see champion riders, and horses, and feel that this is the epitome of being bonded to our horses. Or we feel that if we were bonded, we could win event like this.
There are many different ways that you can bond with your horse, or a horse that you ride. You just have to look at this from a different point of view. Having a great relationship with your horse doesn’t always mean riding him, or her.
Bonding with you horse doesn’t necessarily mean that you are galloping through fields, bareback and bridleless. No, in fact many people bond with their horses without every getting up on their backs. Yes, I will admit that I have thought about doing this with my horses. But almost as quickly as the idea pops into my imagination, reality sinks in and literally laughs out loud at my idea.
So instead of me getting stuck thinking about my horse frolicking through a field, and dumping me before he runs off, lets talk about several ways that you can have a deeper relationship with your horse.
I know, I talk about this all the time. But do you understand why? Grooming your horse is an incredible way to bond with him. You can find his favorite spots to be rubbed, or scratched. And you can also learn where he is ticklish, and which spots make him nervous.
If you could spend 20 to 30 minutes a day brushing, and polishing your horse, can you see how this would make your horse feel? And yes, I said feel. Horses have feelings too. They may not be just like ours, but I am willing to debate that horses have emotions, and share them with their owners. Think about it, you go and spend time with your horse every single day, 7 days a week, at least 30 minutes a day. And we know that horses are creatures of habit. They love their routines (almost as much as we do) and when you spend time with him (or her) they get to count on that time.
Ok, you could argue that braiding is technically grooming. And you would be right, But this goes a little deeper than just grooming.
Have you ever tried to braid your horses mane, or tail? If you have, it can be a complicated process. First it’s helpful if your horse will stand still. Secondly, learning which way you want the braid to go, and how to get a braid straight takes a lot of practice. So the more you work on braiding a mane, or tail, the better your horse will be at standing still, and the faster you will be with braiding.
It takes a lot of practice to be an accomplished braider. And if you get really good at it, you could always offer your services at local horse shows.
I am a huge advocate of ground work with horses before getting into the saddle. And sometimes, instead of getting into the saddle. The more you perfect on the ground your horses manners, the better he will be when you are in the saddle.
And just like the two previous things, the more you work on this, the better your horse will become. This is not only for his benefit, but for yours as well.
Hand walking helps to teach your horse that you are his leader. You are to be respected on the ground, and you will keep him safe. That is ultimately what he is looking for, a leader that will keep him safe. So take your horse out for a walk. Yes, just like you do with your dog. And yes, you may get some sideways glances. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is this time you are spending with your horse.\
Again the more you work with him, the better he will become. The repetition will become a habit as well as something you and your horse will look forward too.
End Your Training on A Positive
This can be challenging, believe me, I know first hand. Let’s just say that both of my horses are not always in the right frame of mind to end one of our rides on a positive note. Especially Ethan. I find that he likes to test me even more than I like to test him. I think that is one of the reasons why I love that darn horse so much. He has SUCH a personality!
But this can mean that our training, or work sessions can tend to run a little longer than I had intended. BUT no matter what, we must end on a good note.
This means he has got to do something that I have asked him to do. It doesn’t have to be a big give, but he has to give. And then his reward for doing the right thing is he get’s to be done for the day. I have found that always ending on a positive when I am working with my horses not only helps my confidence level, but that of my horse as well.
So when you know it is coming to the time that you are getting ready to be done, ask something of your horse. And when he gives you the right answer…aka does what he is asked, he gets to be done. I’m sure you have had the feeling when you are riding, your horse is doing really great, or does something that you have asked just perfectly. And you can tell, this is the perfect time to be done.
Not only will your horse appreciate this (and you) but he will be happy to do the right thing for you, most of the time. Because just like people, horses have bad days too. And if you run into a bad day, and you are working with him, you still have to end on a good note. This can be anything, he halted when asked. He took one step back. He lowered his head, even if only briefly. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you continue working until he does the good deed. Then and only then can he be done.
Talk To Your Horse
I know I do this, on a regular basis. My horses are like my friends. And they are the best confidants you can find. They never reveal the secrets that are shared with them. You can tell them anything, and you secret will be safe.
I think when you talk to your horse, he not only listens, but he can pick up on how you are feeling by how you are speaking. Are you animated? IS your voice high pitched? Are you anxious? Your horse can tell this in you, just like you can with him.
I know, some of my ideas are not top secret ideas. But they do work. By spending time with your horse every day, and actually doing something with him, you will have to be diligent with your time. And actually put the effort forward to gain the respect of your horse, and to earn his trust.
But seriously don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. Make a commitment to your horse to spend the next 5, 6, 10, or even 20 days working with your horse. I promise you will get a huge return in the investment of time you have made with your horse.
About Lisa Goodwin
I am horse crazy and love DIY projects, and finding great deals on everything horse related. When I have a new idea, or find a great deal I love sharing this information with you.
You can find me over on my website, Budget Equestrian or catch up with me on my YouTube channel, The Budget Equestrian