Hello, and welcome back to the blog! This week I am sharing my thoughts on building a strong bond with your horse through building a meaningful connection. I have recently bought a new horse and I have found myself questioning the connection I have with her and considering on a core level ‘how do I bond with my new horse?’.
I never expected it to be a difficult thing to do, but with moving to Australia from Scotland and leaving my heart horse Bo behind, I was subconsciously closed to letting little Bryni in.
Why making a connection with your horse is important?
Building a relationship with a horse is the basis of all training. If you do not have a connection with them, training can become difficult because there is a lack of an established relationship between you and your horse.
By becoming one with your horse, and having an understanding of each other as individuals, you are creating a more solid foundation for a strong bond between you and your horse, and thus you will be more likely to meet your training goals.
How can you create a better bond with your horse then?
There are many ways you can increase the bond you have with your horse. Below, I have suggested three ways to get you started.
You would be surprised at how much you can learn from your horse by purely observing them. Observe which horses your horse spends time with- are they quite independant or are they always found in amongst the herd and with certain friends? Where are they in the pecking order? Are they a socially confident character or are they a socially submissive character? Do they like to groom? Do they like to play? How do they react to new stimuli?
From this information, you can gain an understanding of how your horse thinks, reacts and presents themselves to the rest of the herd. This can then inform the relationship you have with your horse and how you train them. A socially confident horse requires different training to a socially submissive horse.
2. Be consistent
If you show up to see your horse once or twice a week, it can be difficult to build a relationship and form a connection. You need to be a consistent part of your horses day. Even if it means that you just go visit them in the field for 10 minutes a day and don’t necessarily do anything with them other than talk to them and give them a scratch.
In addition, you also need to be consistent with your horse when it comes to training as consistency helps in creating boundaries, promotes understanding and encourages engagement. Horses like to know where they stand, and this will help in building a stronger bond with your horse.
Consistency is key, my friend.
3. More than work
Similarly, if you just turn up to work your horse, they will likely only see you as the person who ‘does stuff’ to them, rather than someone who spends quality time with them. It can turn a horse sour if the only human interaction it has is to be caught and ridden.
It is important to spend quality time doing things your horse enjoys too. Not that horses don’t like to be worked because many of them do, but maybe it would be nice for your horse to have a relaxing brush down? Or perhaps they would appreciate a little walk in hand to a luscious grassy spot out with their field? Try to ensure that you don’t just bring your horse in to ride, as this forms a different kind of connection to the relationship based one discussed in this article.
Overall, you can see there is a correlation between building a positive relationship and connection with your horse and time. It all takes time. It’s about valuing the time you spend with your horse, using it wisely and making enough of an effort to get to know the individual character.