Simple Ways to Strengthen the Human-Horse Bond

This article is part of our Mental Health Awareness Month. Brought to you by Touched by a Horse.

Your horse isn’t just an animal. He’s your partner, teammate, confidante, and friend. It doesn’t matter if you’re working together to finish a job before the day is done, winning titles together in the show pen, or enjoying time on the trail; a strong bond with your horse can improve every aspect of your time together. By strengthening the human-horse bond, you can increase trust and confidence between you and your horse and improve your horsemanship along the way.

Improving the bond with your horse will make each ride a positive experience for you both. Photo courtesy of Touched By a Horse.

Here are some simple ways to build the bond between human and horse, that are enjoyable for you both.

Groundwork Exercises: Engage in groundwork exercises to establish respect, trust, and clear communication with your horse. This can include loungeing, obstacles, and desensitization exercises.

Regular Grooming and Care: Spend quality time grooming and caring for your horse. This hands-on interaction fosters a sense of connection and allows you to observe your horse’s physical and emotional well-being. It can also be a relaxing activity for you when you’re not in the right mindset to ride.

Switch Things Up: Step away from the rigorous training schedule sometimes to try other things. Ride outside the arena, try obstacle courses, ride trails, and give your horse other exercises to try out to keep variety in your riding.

Mindful Riding: Practice mindful riding by focusing on your body language, breathing, and subtle cues. This enhances communication and helps create a more responsive partnership. When you’re in the saddle, stay in the moment and be present.

Equine-Assisted Therapy: Consider participating in equine-assisted therapy or activities to deepen the emotional and psychological connection between you and your horse. This can include the Equine Gestalt process, which utilizes a trained Gestaltist and equine working together to help a client process trauma or heal.

Strengthen the Bond Between Human and Horse With These Tips

Spending Time in Nature: Take your horse on leisurely rides in natural surroundings. This shared experience can strengthen the bond through exploration and shared moments of relaxation. If your horse is ready, hit the trails every now and then. This not only gives him a break from the arena, but can expose him to different surroundings and environments.

Training and Enrichment: Engage in varied training exercises and provide enrichment activities to stimulate your horse’s mind and prevent boredom, thus promoting a stronger bond through shared experiences.

Body Language Awareness: Learn to read and understand your horse’s body language to better interpret his needs, emotions, and responses. Know his baseline health and vital signs as well, to be able to recognize problems as soon as they arise.

Consistency and Routine: Establish a consistent routine and environment for your horse, this can create a sense of security and predictability that contributes to a stronger bond.

Communication and Patience: Communicate with your horse using gentle, patient, and clear signals, while also being receptive to his cues. Developing a mutual language and allowing for patience strengthens the bond over time. Know when he can be challenged in his training, and when to back off and let him rest. Respect his need to be a horse by offering turnout, rest, and time with other horses.

[Learn How to Be Mindful In Your Riding]

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