Horse Behavior Young Rider

Horse and Pony Questions: Building a Bond

Hugging - Bonding with Horse
Photo by Yuris/Shutterstock

QUESTION: I had a tight, close-knit bond with my first horse. Now I have a new horse, and I want to have that same type of relationship. I haven’t gotten there yet. How can I get closer to my horse?

Young Rider Magazine LogoANSWER: That close bond you desire is something to strive for. As you already know, it’s the most rewarding part of being an equestrian. Here are three suggestions to help with your new horse.

1. First, get to know your horse. Does he have any funny little habits? What are some interesting aspects of his behavior? What makes him a real character in the barn? Once you identify these traits, you can learn to appreciate him as a unique individual.

2. Next, spend time with him. Groom him lavishly, discovering that special “itchy spot” where he loves to be brushed. Talk to him in a quiet, soothing manner. Share your secrets (he won’t repeat them!), and let him get used to the sound of your voice. Practice saying his name in a specific tone. Eventually he’ll recognize it and respond when you call him.

3. Finally , in addition to riding work, use groundwork exercises to connect with your horse. One example is a simple showmanship pattern that includes turning and backing up. Leading him through the obstacles of a trail course is another idea. Both encourage the two of you to work together as a team. Be fair and consistent when you correct his mistakes. Reward him for making good choices and responding to your cues. In a short time, your new horse will feel like an old, trusted friend.

This article about how to get closer to your horse appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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