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How to Bond with a Horse: Our 3 Tips


Girl bonding with her horse by patting his neck.

If you're a horse owner, you likely love your horse more than life itself! And because us horse girls are crazy as all-get-out, we often ask ourselves how to bond with a horse even more! Well, if you're totally obsessed with building a true friendship with your horse, keep reading because we've got 3 awesome tips for you.


How to Bond with a Horse Overview

If you have a dog or a cat that lives with you in your home, you know just how close the relationship between human and animal can get! Why? Because we are simply spending all day, every day at their sides. If they are sick, or hurt, or acting slightly different than normal, you'll immediately notice. However, when it comes to horses, we often only see them for a couple of hours a day, a few times per week to ride. These three tips will give you ideas of ways you can spend time with your horse aside from just riding, and will naturally help you grow a deep bond!


How to Bond with a Horse: Tip #1

Our first tip is to spend time with your horse during their turnout or in their pasture. This is a great time to do your homework, read a book, or get some work done. You can do your thing, and your horse can do his, but your close proximity will develop inside both of you a feeling of comfort in each other's presence. This will also show your horse that sometimes you're just there to hang out, just like any of his horse friends!


When spending time with your horse in his pasture, we recommend bringing:

  • A hammock or chair

  • A cozy blanket

  • A good book

  • A nice snack


Note for Success: If your horse gets a little rowdy in turnout, we recommend setting up on the other side of his fence, or wearing a helmet. We promise you'll feel much more comfortable and at-ease if you know that you're safe!

How to Bond with a Horse: Tip #2

This one is my personal favorite tip. Make a wildlife observation checklist! Take a notebook with you out to your horse's paddock or pasture, and just take time observing your horse in the wild. Write down some questions and see if you can't find the answers! Here are some things you can add to your checklist:


  • Does my horse play more with one horse than the others?

  • What direction does my horse stand when it's windy or raining? Does he seek shelter?

  • Does my horse like the other wildlife, such as birds or deer?

  • What does my horse do when something new, like a plastic bag, is introduced into the environment?

  • Does my horse protect one side of his body more than the other?

  • How often does my horse roll?

  • Is there one plant or weed that my horse really likes? And is there one that he actively avoids?

  • What will he do if I set up a few ground poles or a small jump? Will he ignore them, avoid them, or explore them?

Knowing your horse's likes, dislikes, quirks, and behaviors, can be such crucial information! Seeing your horse in his habitat, without interfering and outside of a training scenario, can give you such a glimpse into his true nature. And that can play directly into how you interact with him and the choices you make to ensure you're both happy in everything that you pursue!


How to Bond with a Horse: Tip #3

This tip is a very important one. Study up on horse behavior and equine facial expressions. Did you know that horses' faces are more expressive than dogs'? That's right! Their eyes, lips, cheeks, nostrils, ears, and more all work in tandem to tell a story. If you think you're good at telling what your horse is thinking, ask yourself this:


"If my horse was standing totally still and I couldn't see his ears, would I be able to tell just from his facial expression if he was afraid, in pain, mad, or relaxed?"


If the answer is "no" don't worry! You're one of millions of horse owners who were simply never taught to read the facial expressions of horses! We highly recommend this book, Language Signs and Calming Signals of Horses: Recognition and Application by Rachaël Draaisma. It will take you from zero to sixty in 182 pages of science, and you'll come out the other end a true master of horse behavior, and will have a very good understanding of how your horse communicates!



Conclusion

Every horse owner wants an incredible relationship with their horse. They give so much to us, and we love them so deeply, we just want them to know it! With these tips, I hope that you have a better idea of how to improve the friendship you have with your horse, and that the next time someone asks how to bond with a horse, you'll know just what tips to give them!




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