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Bonding With Your Horse - Part 1 - Setting Boundaries

Sep 11, 2008
Whether you are a natural horsemanship fanatic, or you prefer traditional methods, it is important to bond with your horse before pursuing advanced training. As herd animals, horses build a network of roles throughout their group. It is important that humans also become a part of that network, preferably in the role of lead mare.

When first working with a new horse, it is important to take some time to get to know him. Spend some time grooming him, or working with him free in an arena or round pen.

There are many different types of personalities in horses. Some are brave and dominant, others are shy and reserved. How you interact with your horse depends a great deal on his or her personality. Even so, no matter what personality type your horse is, it is essential that they see you as the dominant partner in your relationship.

When working around a horse, you must set up boundaries. Take some time watching horses out in the fields to understand how this works. You will notice that while many horses are close friends, and will hang out together, they also have limits to what they will accept from their buddies. Often while grazing, horses maintain a space around themselves and will warn away any other horse who ventures to close. Likewise, should a horse become too pushy, they will respond with teeth bared or a cocked hind leg. This is how horses establish their boundaries.

When handling your horse, you need to create similar boundaries. While some boundaries can be eased over time, with a new horse it is essential to make it 100% clear what you expect and what you will consider inappropriate.

To keep yourself safe, you should always maintain a buffer space around you. This is a 2' radius of open space that a horse is not permitted to push into without your permission. While you can approach more closely, your horse should not. If a horse is pushy and enters your space, you need to show him that he is crossing your boundaries. Often all that is needed is a verbal warning, or perhaps a physical shove away from yourself. This is especially important when leading.

In addition to physical boundaries, you need to establish boundaries relating to behavior. The rules you set in the beginning of your relationship establish how things will work out in the long run. If you do not want your horse pawing while on the crossties, correct him. If you do not want him to kick out while you pick his feet, correct him. You need to establish yourself as the boss, and show your horse that he cannot push you around.

This is true, no matter what your horse's personality is like. Timid horses may require a gentler hand, while over-dominant horses might fare better with a loud voice and a solid smack. Either way, be sure to establish which behaviors are unacceptable from the beginning. It is much harder to break a habit that is formed, than to establish good behavior from day one.
About the Author
Lydia K Kelly is a writer for HorseClicks, classifieds of horses for sale Alaska, horses for sale Arizona, horses for sale Arkansas and other state. Lydia is also a featured author at www.ArticleKing.com
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