When do you know that you've made "the connection" with The Bonder?
I did The Bonder with my mare today, and she did all the things, (with the exception of getting aggressive), that you said she would. When I turned my back to her, it took a few seconds, but she walked up to me, and followed me around the pen. When we were done, I left the halter off of her and opened the pen gate, (my RP is inside my pasture), and though she put her head down to graze, when I kissed to her she followed me down towards the gate, but when something caught her eye she was off on her own way.
Also, when she does walk up to me when I have my back turned, do I acknowledge her and/or praise her for doing that?
Thanks in advance,
The purpose of the bonder is to establish a leader / follower relationship. That is the connection you are seeking.
<! Reserve 1> Since she gave you all the indicators I'd expect from a horse acknowledging a leader, I'd say you made the connection.
You say it only took "seconds" for her to come up to you when you turned your back and gave her permission to come in to you. That is pure textbook. Since you are the leader you can acknowledge it in any manner you wish. By not doing anything to tell her to do something else you are basically saying, "That is the correct thing to do."
Since your RP is enclosed in your pasture you decided to lead her around without any physical connection. Great idea. When she stuck her head down to graze, you kissed (invited). Herd leaders don't invite. But it still worked for the moment. I would have said, "No!" The mental image I would present to her would let her know that I didn't want her doing it. It is kind of like you'll see it when you believe it.
You basically stopped leading when she started wandering.
You have done very well. All you need is to learn how to maintain the leadership and this will quickly come to you.
When you first start occupying and working in the leadership role it takes probably 98% of your thought processes to maintain it. After you have had a little practice you'll suddenly find it only takes 2%.
When the horse's attention wanders I say, "Excuse me, pay attention here." Again exhibiting a leadership mentality.
Now then, the beauty of all of this is that at all times the horse has the choice to respond or not. And it does not matter what the horse chooses to do.
<! Reserve 2> If the horse obeys, the leadership connection is strengthened. If it does not, it is telling you as leader that the connection is shakey, or perhaps even broken. You then know that you need to tell the horse, "No problem. You seem to have forgotten who is the leader here, so pay attention while I remind you."
You then repeat the "bonder."
Some horses never need a repeat. Some may need reminding. But you'll see that the length of time between the need increases while the length of time it takes to do it dramatically decreases.
The connection is made when the horse demonstrates it is paying attention and begins complying more willingly. Time strengthens the connection.
As time goes on you'll see your mare is more settled, more willing and cooperative. I think you've already seen that. It will only get better.
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