How To Create A Bond Before You Ride

Here are some tips on how to connect with your horse on a daily basis so that you can warm up the working bond between you before you ride.

1. Before you get to the barn, remember to clear you mind and make a mental outline of all the things you are going to do with your horse. Be prepared, however, to change course depending on how the connection with your horse goes and how he is feeling. Be in a good mood and happy to see your horse. Remember to give him your full attention as a horse finds it hard to follow your lead without your full attention. Try to see him around the same time each day so he looks forward to your arrival. 2. Remember to keep your eye on everything in your immediate environment that might influence your horse in some way so you can handle any changing situation appropriately. 3. When you get to your horse, spend some time with him in the moment and don’t feed him treats until you know your horse is enjoying your company and you have his full attention. This way you are not just a serving wench or a vending machine. This is where I might use the Eye Contact Rituals. With my horses, I offer treats some days and others not, but most often I treat. I decide when I offer the treat by the attitude of my horse. If he is not bonding with me because he is looking around for treats that day, I hold them off for a more appropriate time. It usually takes only a few minutes to become connected without a treat. 4. I do not ride any more but when I used to ride, I would play through the Waterhole Rituals™ building the connection before I would ride. This allows the bond to grow and flourish and to give the horse activities that he misses out on from not living in a community of horses. It gives a horse more life experiences and a sense of self. I check out if my horse is too shy or too self serving or not focused or too alive or not awake and then I make the adjustments while we are not serious and in a playful state. Working on a relationship with a horse gives a horse a full sense of self worth while warming up our team-working skills together, especially when done around manners and food with games such as “You can eat here this time.” 5. When I start my ride, I check out how my horse is responding to my aids. How responsive is he to the halt and go buttons and turning aids. Is he listening? How are his transitions? I then work on any adjustments before I ask for any performance. I spend a segment of time riding to warm the horse up in order to create relaxation and forward movements like a meditation. Again, this is an example of how to use a routine to build a connection. 6. When I ask a horse to walk or trot, I first find out the speed he wants to travel and when I determine that, I then ask him to go faster if his trot is on the slow side. If it is faster, I ask him to slow down. If it is just right, I still must ask for a change in speed. This way my horse will pay more attention to his job and have a better carriage to his gaits by bringing up his back to accommodate the change of pace. The change of pace will also help to develop more suspension in the stride. {sidebar id=8}7. When you have finished riding, take your horse out on a lead and let him graze or feed him in his paddock and read a book or journal to just spend time with your horse. To learn more about Carolyn, her lifelong relationship with the horses and her quest to find the ideal communication method between man and horse, visit Carolyn Resnick's site and read her book Naked Liberty published in English and German (Tochter Der Mustangs – Daughter of the Mustangs). View more Path Of The Horse articles. Follow us on Facebook.