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Winding Hill Stables offer first class horseback riding lessons tailored to the individual. Whether you are a seasoned rider or a beginner, we have the right program for you!


How To Build a Friendship With a Horse

a friendship with a horse

When you get a new horse, it is natural that you want to make a friendship with a horse. Hopefully, your new horse means the start of a new and exciting relationship. Horses are many things, playful, majestic, strong, curious, gentle, and dependable. However, they are also loving and loyal – once you bond with a horse, they will be your friend for life. However, developing that kind of relationship takes dedication and effort. You will need to devote hours of time to your horse and show him that you are someone he can trust. Once you have earned that trust, you will have the trusted friend anyone could ever ask for. This article will help you get started.

Here are ways to help create a bond between you and your new horse.

Breathing into a horse’s nose with your nose

Is a little horse whisperer trick-of-the-trade that really melts some horses and is perceived by them as a sign of friendliness, and is what they do to each other in greeting? Another little trick some enjoy along this line (especially the younger the horse, like a foal or a yearling, but some older horses like it, as well) is whistle into their nose. Does not have to be any particular tune, just pleasantly whistle into their nose and it can really melt some. This is how we sometimes get a foal to stand still for baby exams/shots, etc. Really captivates them. Try it! If you want to make a friendship with a horse, suck on a mint before breathing into a horse’s nose or whistling into it and many really love that scent. Incidentally, whistling some pleasant tune while you work with a horse in general can calm some horses. Singing to them can help, as well, though they seem to like the female higher pitched singing voice tone the most, I have noticed.

Understand Body Language

Understanding your horse’s body language and shaping your own body language will help you communicate with your horse and create a closer bond. This has to be done with consistency however. Something like ‘join up’ or other behaviors you have taught will not be permanent if your horse never knows what to expect next from you. Learn to understand what your horse is thinking by observing its facial expressions (yes, horses do have them), ears, tail and posture.

Be a Leader

Horses are herd animals and like to follow a leader. Once you have gained a friendship with a horse and gained your horse’s trust and established yourself as a leader, he will follow you anywhere.

Train him to turn left and right, stop and back up in response to slight movements of the lead or bridle.

Training the horse to respond to such requests on the ground will benefit you hugely in the saddle.

Search Touch

The horse’s face, neck, around & behind ears to find the particular horse’s favorite spots to be stroked or scratched (again, no patting please). Each horse is different and when you find that favorite spot where the horse suddenly leans into you for more, memorize it, because you are going to return to that spot in the future to help soothe him when needed, but indulge only for a second, then quit before he pulls away, ideally leaving him wanting more. Common favorite spots: underneath the chin in that grooved area; in summertime that spot can be pretty bitten up by insects and be itchy, so many horses enjoy a good indulgent scratching in there with our fingernails. They cannot get to that spot they and many are delighted that we can. Scratch the cheeks, behind the ears, stroke the neck. Mother horse’s lick their baby’s neck in long, soothing strokes to comfort them if the foal is ever upset or afraid, and long, soft strokes of the horse’s neck reminds them of how Mom used to lick them there just like that. Another spot many like to be scratched, between the front legs, which again, is a spot they cannot get to themselves.

Good Manners Must Go Both Ways

People who want well-mannered horses must have good manners, too. In addition, no, we do not mean say “please’ and “thank you!” We do mean to consider things from your horse’s point of view. Commit to learning how to use body language to convey your expectations, and to give meaningful feedback – to let your horse know when you are pleased, and when you are not.  Do not be afraid to have high expectations for your horse, as long as you are willing to hold yourself to high standards, and to help your horse learn along the way. A friendship with a horse and trust between people is hard enough to develop – genuine trust between two species is even harder to cultivate, and far easier to lose.  A horse need to believe in the reliability of their person in order to trust him/her to be the leader. Horses know that their lives depend on it!