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Bonding with Your New Horse

Bonding with your new horse is a slow process that requires patience and caring. Your horse has to adjust to an entirely new environment as well as new human companions, and you need to give her time to make this adjustment. It is important to spend time with her, helping her relax and become acclimated to her new home.

One of the first steps in bonding with your new horse is lots and lots of grooming. Spending time quietly talking to your horse and gently stroking him, while letting him get used to the feel of your hands on him and your grooming techniques, will help him learn to relax around you. It is very important to always be sure you are always following basic safety precautions when grooming, and this is especially important with a new horse. Always make sure his halter is securely in place and attached to crossties on both sides. Even after you are well-acquainted with your new horse, these safety precautions should always be followed, for your own safety as well as the well-being of the horse.

Another important step in bonding with your new horse is making sure she has good ground manners training. Ground manners training is essentially teaching the horse how to properly behave when she is not engaged in any specific activity. In other words, it is how she behaves while she is standing next to you waiting to be saddled or after a ride when she is going to be groomed. Horse ground manners training includes understanding of personal space and respect for your “territory,” as well as how to stand quietly and exhibit patience. In short, ground manners training is a matter of teaching your horse to behave around humans. If your horse already has good ground manners, simply reviewing these each day will help you in bonding with your new horse, and clearly identify you as the leader in the relationship. If your horse has not had any, or very little, ground manners training, you will need to start at the beginning. As with most horse training, the keys to successful ground manners training are repetition and consistency. Remember that your goal is not only good behavior, but strong bonding with our new horse and the establishment of the hierarchy in your relationship.

While bonding with your new horse, continually reinforce your position of dominance. While it can be tempting to try to appear as an “equal” to your horse in order to help cement your relationship, this is always a mistake. Horses are herd animals that need to either be taught to be submissive or they will try to be dominant. Through consistent and positive training, establish yourself as the dominant one in the relationship.

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