How to Bond With Your Horse

Building a healthy relationship between you and your horse can make all the difference in terms of performance in the show ring. Whether you’re a new or experienced horse owner, it’s very important that you and your horse learn to work and communicate effectively together. This, of course, can only be done after you understand your horse’s personality – and this, as I’m sure you’re aware of, takes time to do.

A few years ago, in 1998, my parents guided me through my first horse purchase. I was quite young at the time – only 15 – and the horse was an eight year old Quarter Horse mare. She wasn’t particularly friendly, but, in her defense, she was passed from her previous owner to a trainer, which left quite a noticeable and deep mark on her personality. You could easily tell that she wasn’t too keen on bonding with other humans.

It took a couple of months until she truly acknowledged me as her owner and several more years before we really began to understand each other. So, how did I manage cure her standoffishness? The answer was very simple and came quite naturally: I just needed to spend enough time with her. Because I always came in to check on her and make sure that she had everything she needed, I managed to gain her trust.

Is communication truly the key? Can a horse really communicate with a human? Yes and, surprisingly to some, horses are highly communicative animals (but subtle). Abby, my horse, used to communicate by nudging or by using her eyes. Through time, I managed to learn all of her expressions – I knew when she was bored, tense or relaxed, for example. The fact that she loved attention also got her noticed in the show-ring.

The truth is that horses can often be very expressive animals. Bonding with Abby and taking her on trail rides was so fun that I sometimes couldn’t tell where she ended and where I began. So, to conclude, this is how I managed to bond with my stubborn mare, and you can bond with your horse as well provided that you follow this basic outline:

  1. Spend enough time with your horse: this includes simple activities like grooming, bathing and massaging. It’s important that you visit your horse frequently, even if you only spend the time sitting in his or her company.
  2. Take everything slowly. As the old saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” In order to bond with your horse, you’ll definitely need time. The amount required largely depends on your horse’s past, but this can be hard to know. Was your horse abused? Maybe he or she, like Abby, was passed down from owner to owner and, as a result, feels disconnected. If this is the case, be sure to give your horse enough time to recover.
  3. Good healthcare is key. It’s important that you keep your horse dewormed, vaccinated and properly fed. This allows your horse to feel better and acknowledge that you are concerned about his or her wellbeing.
  4. Find an activity that you both enjoy, such as riding or jumping. Other examples of equine activities include lunging, grooming and vaulting.

Check these links for information about Horse Stalls and Horse Treadmills

How to Communicate with Your Horse

During the 1890’s, almost everyone in Germany was left in awe when Clever Hans created an impression that he can read minds. Well, who would not? But much later on, Oskar Pfungst, a psychologist, insisted that Clever Hans was not actually reading minds. What he actually did was to read some sort of silent signals by studying the psoture and faces of different people. This allowed him to pick up clues as to what the people around him have in mind. This goes to show that horses are indeed perceptive. They can communicate with people. Needless to say, this is a remarkable ability.

So if you are a horse owner or just a horse rider, how can you communicate with the horse – whether you are on the ground or in the saddle? Do you realize that you sometimes do things which actually confuse the horse? This article can give you some ideas on how you can effectively communicate with your horses. But remember, it is still best if you constantly consult an expert horse trainer or a veterinarian.

While You are on the Ground

Do you know that horses are actually keen observers? They look at how you move. They pay attention to what you are saying. If you will try to talk with a horse, you have to make sure that you are calm. Communciating loudly with a horse definitely not a great idea. If your voice is brash, your horse will have no other choice but to flatten his ears against his cranium. Through the years, horses somehow learn what each word that you utter means. That is why if a horse will grow up in an environment of multilingual people, chances are, this horse will get confused and restless most of the time. So, next time that you visit your horse, teach him your language so that he can have his sweet time to grasp the meanings of the words you are saying.

Movement is another factor that you always have to bear in mind when communicating with horses. Well, movmement, just like language, is another form of expression or communication. In front of horse, you have to appear confident and cautious at the same time. If you are, then the horse will think that you are sos ure of what you do. Another reminder that you should always bear in mind is to never make any sudden noise or movement. This will frighten the horse. If the horse is sleeping and you walk behind him, expect a strong kick. Next time that you position yourself behind the horse, make your presence felt by talking to him calmly or touching him gently.

While You are in the Saddle

While you are in the harness or in the saddle, you can still communicate with the horse in many different ways. Experts call these means of communication as aids. This is simply because these ways aid or help you effectively communicate with the horse. These aids involve the sound and intensity of your voice, the way you make use of your heels and the reins and even the posture of your body. You may resort to using crop for more leg press. But never dare to make use of this to punish your horse.

Whether you are on the ground with your horse or in the saddle, consistency in how you command and how you use other aids is very important. If you are not consistent, you will most likely confuse the horse. Lastly, why don’t you try the clicker technique when communicating and training your horse? This method has proven to be very effective because it allows the horse to know if he did something correctly.