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Young Horse Behavior During
"Bonder" & Other Times

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Hi Marv--

I love your web site! You've given me such good infornation--I'm in the process now of doing the bonder with my yearling appaloosa colt. I say in the process because he lets me drive him any direction pretty easily and then he stands to face me when he gets tired of me moving him, but he has yet to come over to me.

Anyhow, he's a sweet little guy with me, in spite of the fact he isn't gelded yet. The problem I'm having is how he acts with my other horse. I also have a very large 7 year old tennessee walker who is a very macho horse and who is 'herd leader". Well, baby just can't accept this fact and is constantly rushing the gelding from behind and biting him on the butt then running away--baby actually body slams the gelding from behind with his chest. I can't tell if it's just normal baby games or if baby is vying for the leader role. Believe me, this walker gelding isn't giving that spot up easily! Baby is like a shark and does "drive bys" constantly--he bites, gets chased, and circles around for another run at the gelding. When he's not harassing the gelding, they get along fine--they eat together without fighting over food and stand together most of the day--until baby gets a bug up his butt and is feeling playful.

Is this something I even need to worry about or does it sound like normal baby games? If I separate them, they just play biting and rearing games through the fence--if they can't be near each other, like if I separate them far apart, they stand and scream for each other. My only real concern is that the baby's constant body slamming will hurt the gelding's spine or back end. The gelding only makes minor attempts to kick at the colt when he sees him coming, but does turn and bite baby pretty good when he's had enough. Any suggestions?

Also, do you ever come to Florida (West Palm Beach/Jupiter) area to do clinics? I'd love to come to one!

Can you resend me a copy of the bonder technique too? I've managed to lose the file somehow and I want to re-read it and make sure i'm doing it right.

Thanks,

What you describe between the two horses is absolutely normal. That's what horses do. The little one is just working out his status in the world. The time to worry about it is when he does it to you.

The Bonder is pretty hard to do "wrong" as long as neither you or the horse gets all worked up or injured. If you notice an improvement in behavior and/or communication, you're doing it right.

Following, or coming to you, is not the goal of the Bonder. Improved communication is. You are communicating to the horse that you are the leader. As the leader you are to be treated with respect and your wishes are to come first.

Following or coming to you are by-products of the procedure, they are just further indicators of the horse acknowledging your leadership position, not signs that you have succeeded. A positive change in the horse's attitude and behavior is what tells you you have succeeded.

If the horse acknowledges your leadership but doesn't come to you or follow you it is because you have not clearly communicated to it that it may or you want it to follow you. It may be that you are out of position, such as asking the horse to follow while standing in the "stop" position at the horse's shoulder, or you are asking the horse to move into your space which one does not do to leaders.

Try some different things like gently encouraging him to come along with a slight pull under his chin, casually moving into his space at his head to cause him to move away then just moving right with him for a bit then gradually switch from moving him to leading him off.

I wouldn't be too greatly concerned about any damage he might do the gelding. His behavior is normal young horse stuff and the gelding will set him in his place if he gets too annoying. Or the gelding will simply accept the secondary position.

As far as events go, who knows where I'll end up? I'll pretty much go anywhere in North America where I can get into and out of fairly easy. You may want to keep checking our Upcoming Events Page. And bringing an event to your area isn't all that difficult. Give it some thought.

You may find something of value in my video "Mentally Connecting With Immature Horses" available from my DVD inventory.

Any time you need to find the Bonder you can email me and I'll send you an email containing some info I want you to have along with its current location on the web.

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