Horses are graceful, elegant, and fascinating creatures. As with any owner-animal relationship, encouraging a strong bond promotes better wellness for both rider and horse. However, there are ways to transform the relationship to even further increase your horse and rider bond.
1. The Power of Touch
Allogrooming is form of grooming between members of the same species that strengthens social bonds. This commonly occurs in horses when two horses nibble at one another, to scratch and groom one another. You can be that friend for your horse by brushing areas it can’t get to, like the chest, belly, and between the legs. Grooming isn’t just pleasing to your horse in the moment, it is also enriching your bond ongoing.
An equine massage is also heavily encouraged. According to Katherine Blocksdorf of The Spruce Pets, therapeutic touch fosters the bond between horses and people. She notes, “If your horse knows he can rely on you for relaxation, he will enjoy his time with you. Not only will your horse enjoy it, but it may also enhance his or her performance.” The author adds, “many horses learn to lean into the pressure of massage or even chiropractic work, indicating where they need work.”
2. The Power of Communication
Your horse, by nature, seeks approval and acceptance from you. By being a fair, consistent, and reliable leader, your four-legged friend will feel safe, happy, and in tune with you. It is important to notice their efforts, and praise them for them, to fuel a true give-and-take relationship. Redmond Equine notes that riders sometimes give a cue to the horse, and then “inadvertently punishes them for responding to the cue.” They note that a common example is when a horse is cued to canter, then hit in the mouth with the bit when he does, as his head moves into the bit in that moment. “It hurts his mouth and scares him, leaving him with the feeling that he is being punished for what was asked.”
The power of communication includes nonverbal communication as well. Shape your body language to communicate with your horse. If you commit to uniformity in your interactions with your horse, they will know what to expect from you. This makes them happy, as your horse likes predictability.
Consistency and fairness are the keys. You can’t expect a horse to do anything they are not trained to do. Similarly, you must not push a horse for disobeying a command they aren’t comfortable, or capable of, doing. You must train in the same way every time, as horses are creatures of habit.
3. The Power of Observation and Understanding
Your horse has likes, dislikes, and even preferences for types of music! With respect for your horse comes responsibility. That main responsibility is simply to observe and understand them. Your horse’s facial expressions, neck/tail position, and how they use their eyes and ears, are some of the many points of interest that cue you into how your equine is feeling. Eyes wide and ears perked forward? They are frightened. If your horse’s nostrils are relaxed, it is a sure signal that they are happy.
Listening to your horse, through observing and recognizing their behaviors, is essential for a stable bond.
Go for a walk and see your horse enjoy a change of scenery. If you have a horse who is nervous about straying too far from the barn, slowly increase the length of your walk over many sessions. Allow him to set the pace. This furthers your horse’s trust for you and nurtures the love in your relationship.
Forging a better understanding of your horse is important, because sometimes our horses are trying to tell us things that we can’t hear.
4. The Power of Mimicry
Being “one with a horse” can be as simple as mimicking their movements. Similar to dogs, mimicking a horse’s behaviors can increase your bond.
The Spruce Pets encourages this, advocating for letting your horse loose at liberty, in a space that they can see you mirroring them. “Mimicking your horse’s movements will gain his interest and curiosity about you. Walk as they walk, turn when they turn, pause and crouch when they roll, and run playfully if they take off in a trot or gallop.” This is because horses are herd animals and naturally move in unison with those they trust and respect.
5. The Power of Quality Time (…even if it’s just down time!)
Visiting and spending time with your horse outside of riding and training time is a must for equine and equestrian bonding. It is something that is too often overlooked. Simple things, such as hand grazing, belly and neck scratching, or just reading a book and enjoying one another’s company, are all extremely effective.
Just as sharing an experience with a friend brings you both closer together, so does sharing quality time with your horse, and building experience with one another. The more you train, ride, or drive your horse, the more you both will understand each other. Mutual trust is achieved through a developing bond.
Spruce Pets encourages taking a minute to sit and relax “and breathe consciously” when you get on your horse, before asking them to get in motion. Similarly, they recommend doing the same standing by their side, right after dismounting. “Stroke him or find an itchy spot to scrub, rather than just getting off and heading to the barn. Horses are intuitive, so they sense our emotional state, read our body language, and feel our intentions.”
Horses are just as at peace as they look. Why not spend little relaxing moments with your horse? It certainly serves as a nice, refreshing break in our fast-paced and high-demand lifestyles. But it also promotes better understanding, and in turn, improves communication between the two of you. Connecting with nature alongside one another really strengthens your peace within your own bodies, as well as with one another.
Another sure way to increase the bond with your horse and improve their equine wellness? Try our Spirulina Wafers for an effective (and tasty!) way to help maintain the body’s immune, circulatory, and detoxifying systems. Spirulina Wafers are a great support for normal, healthy allergy response.
Joint Health Treats are another horse favorite. This powerful joint health supplement (with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, MSM, and vitamin C,) has real carrot flavor for easy feeding.