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The bond between a horse and its handler is truly like no other. Rooted in mutual trust, respect, and understanding, this relationship transcends the bounds of ordinary human-animal interactions, venturing into the realm of profound companionship.
However, forging this deep connection is not an overnight process. It requires time, patience, and an understanding of the horse’s unique nature and needs.
In this article, we will explore a range of effective ways to bond with your horse.
Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a beginner, these tips will provide valuable insights to enhance your relationship with your equine friend and to make your journey together even more rewarding.
Not only is grooming beneficial for keeping a clean and healthy horse, but it is also a great bonding exercise. Horses even use grooming as a way to bond with each other.
Referred to as allogrooming or social grooming, horses will often nibble at each other’s necks, withers and backs. Not only does it feel good to them, but it also allows them to form relationships with other horses.
When you groom your horse, it is often relaxing to them. Sometimes horses will even nibble you while you groom them as a way for them to show their appreciation.
Working with your horse together at eye level allows you to develop a solid relationship through trust.
Doing groundwork with your horse reinforces positive leadership. Walking your horse with a halter and lead rope and doing simple exercises teaches your horse to see you as a leader.
Simple exercises like stopping, turning, backing up and stretching allows you and your horse to work together as a team.
3. Giving Them Small Treats & Gifts
Using treats as positive reinforcement is a great way for your horse to gain your trust. Treats can be given as a reward for good behavior.
Treats can be given after riding or working. They can also be used for stretching exercises to help keep your horse flexible.
Though some people don’t like giving treats to horses, when done right they can be used as a positive way to interact with your horse.
It is important to teach your horse to respect you when getting treats. You don’t want your horse to become pushy or mouthy when it comes to giving them treats.
Teaching them manners when giving them treats is essential for you to both enjoy the experience.
Another way to treat your horse is to buy them some toys designed for horses. Although it’s not advisable to shower your horse with gifts or treats, toys for horses are great way to keep your horse happy and occupied.
Keep a horse occupied in their stall and in the field is also beneficial or their mental health and happiness.
See our best toys for horses guide for some awesome ideas!
4. Understanding Your Horse’s Body Language
In order to bond with your horse, you need to understand their body language. Since your horse can’t talk to you, they use body language as a way to communicate with you.
If your horse has their ears pinned back and heads up, you should give them space. If their head is lowered and reaching out to you with their ears forward, they are excited to see you.
Learning your horse’s body language will help you understand their mood. Once you understand your horse’s body language, you can use it as a foundation to build a solid relationship.
5. Have a Relaxing Ride
Once you and your horse have connected in the saddle, riding can be a relaxing and fun way to spend time together.
Going for a trail ride or a relaxing walk outside is something both you and your horse will enjoy.
6. Don’t Always Work Your Horse
Visit your horse every now and then to make them happy. Don’t always turn up and ride them because they may associate your visit with just work.
Visit them at the barn with a few treats and spend time grooming them, taking them for a walk for some nice grass, etc.
Spending time outside of riding is vital for building a solid relationship with your horse. Petting your horse while in their stall or hand grazing them is a calming way to spend time together outside of riding.
Also, do some horse bonding exercises such as teaching your horse tricks in menage, playing with some toys with them or simply going for a walk
7. Establishing Mutual Respect With Your Horse
Respect is a two-way street. You need to learn to respect your horse and horse needs to learn to respect you.
It is important to understand that your horse needs space, time and patience when working with them. They are large animals whose natural response is to flee when scared.
Not only do you need to respect your horse to bond with them, but it is also important for your safety.
Your horse must also respect your space and learn that you are a leader. Applying positive reinforcements while teaching your horse their boundaries with you is key to them respecting you.
Once you respect each other, you and your horse can have a solid bond.