Here are parts of some emails I received and since they address the same issues, bonding and respect, I have combined them into one page in hopes they may help someone...
My Peruvian Paso gelding is 'broke' within the meaning you describe in all cases but one--which since he is the ultimate chow-hound means that he still isn't there yet! The only time he crowds or acts disrespectful is when he's being fed. I go into the pasture to feed my two horses, and *********** has his ears down and his head in his feeder--and I have to shove it aside to get the cubes into the feeder. In EVERY other situation, he is perfect. The other horse stands beside her feeder and waits until the feed is there before she puts her head down. So--is this something that I'm making too much of, or is this the last hurdle before we have gotten where I, at least, want to go with my horse skills?
I have no real idea what your situation is with your horse beyond what I read in your email. I'd have to watch the dynamics of this situation or discuss it with you at length to determine if there is anything *I* would be concerned about.
I help people become closer to horses than they already are. But there are a significant number of people who do not need (or, egad, even *want*) my help...they are satisfied as all get out with the way things are. And there is nothing wrong with that. It is strictly up to the owner / handler to make that decision. I will point out what I see in the horse and if they want to live with that, so be it...I'm happy as all get out for them.
Here is my take on this...if this action does not bother you or cause you any concern, I'd say, you have no problem. I do not know what "has his ears down" means. Are they flopping or are they pinned back? If pinned back, I'd say you have a respect problem.
If you have to use considerable force to move his head from the feeder so you can feed him rather than using minimal effort to move his head, I'm certain you have a respect problem.
The other horse who won't put its head down until the feed is in the bucket...SHHH! Don't say anything!
Since you brought up my use of the word, "broke," Let me splain what I mean, Lucy. I used the word "broke" simply because at the moment I had no other word to denote what I call the "mother syndrome." That is the state a mother adopts with her youngster. No matter what he does, she ignores it. He climbs all over her, he plays, he generally makes himself a nuisance and she ignores it. Until she hears, "Mom! Mom!" At that moment she instantly pays attention.
This is the state that I want to reach with the horse in that I want the horse to act like mom. Not *be* mom, *act* like mom. I want that horse to accept whatever I do and really pay no attention to what I do until I address him. When I address him, I want his attention, immediately.
I can get this state by implementing bonding techniques that bring the horse and I so close to each other mentally it tolerates and accepts what I do and it pays attention when I ask for it's attention. This is a simplistic view of a complex situation that occurs so rapidly it is mind boggling.
One of the things I want my students to do is to REALLY examine their horse *before* we begin work. I want them to know exactly how it acts when they ask it something. I want them to know how eager, how willing, how accepting their horse is before they begin.
The attitude change in both the horse and the human is profound enough when they are only vaguely aware of what their horse was like before. When they have concrete memories of pre-bonding experience it is spectacular.
In my view, for what it's worth, the horse is either bonded or it isn't. If you and the horse are not one-minded to the point others can obviously see it, you probably aren't. You can have an outstanding rapport with a horse and still not be bonded.
Both of my horses are very polite and respectful of me on the ground, due entirely to a lot of patience on my part. I find that this doesn't translate well under saddle though. They both make far too many decisions on their own for my taste, often ignoring what I want them to do, unless I get real serious. In the arena, they are gems, quiet, responsive, willing, on the trail they are all bets are off.
Is this just a horse thing? Or have I left something out in their training. Secondly, what is the best way to make the connection to which you are referring in a remedial horse. Meaning, a horse that has been mis-handled and you want to initiate the connection and "re-start" the animal.
I want my horses to be my partners, not my employees. I want a willing volunteer not a draftee.
You have reached a happy medium with them. You're both able to work things out without getting the other ticked off.
Horses like these are not bonded. For the most part, you can handle them and get along with them, but they are not bonded to you. Training takes a lot of patience, bonding with horses doesn't take much. By using natural herd dynamics one can bond with a horse in mere minutes. If you do not KNOW whether or not your horses are your partners and willing volunteers, they aren't.
My round pen scenario that has come to be known as the "Bonder" can be used establish a very strong mental connection between you and almost any horse in minutes. Once you have established this connection and learn to work within it you are able to accomplish things much faster and easier. If you do not have a copy of my Bonder and would like one, send an email to my autoresponder and in moments you'll receive an email containing the current Bonder URL. The bonder, when performed correctly according to the sequence and manner I have attempted to set out, will bond you and the horse you do it with so quickly, you will be stunned. Once bonded all the other stuff gets so much easier. Communication is so heightened, it is spooky. And communication is key to prolonging and deepening the bond.
Can you tack your horse untied, throw the reins over its neck then walk off and have that horse follow you willingly, quietly while you make abrupt turns, starts and stops, without training it to do that? If so, your horse is bonded.
One evening at my riding lesson (learning to ride English after 47 years as a cowboy) my instructor, a 20+ year former manager of a Polish State Breeding Farm, told me, "It is awesome what you can do with a horse." *I* did not teach her, or my other saddle mare, or any other horse to do what he was admiring (exactly what I described in the previous paragraph)...they do it on their own.
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