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Bond Today Gone Tomorrow

This page deals with day to day "inconsistencies" in a horse that has completed the "bonder" (bonder URL available by sending any email to my autoresponder,

She writes:


Yesterday Ben went out to work on Cheyenne and did the Bonder again. I am convinced Cheyenne has a mind of her own. She would do nothing and all she wanted was to eat grass. Ben kept her in the round pen until he was ready to fall down having accomplished nothing. To me this say's Cheyenne won that round and she's still the boss.

To me this says Ben wasn't able to demonstrate total control during the procedure. If he was ready to fall down I'd say he lost track of the procedure and resorted to running her around as opposed to controlling her. If you run a horse around a round pen you are just going to get a stronger horse - unless you run it to physical endangerment.

The purpose of the bonder is to establish to the horse that you have leadership ability and that's all. Once you establish that ability to the horse it will treat you like it would treat an actual lead horse.

At that point it is up to the human to act like a lead horse would act and lead. That sometimes takes a bit of practice and requires that we work to establish a two-way communication stream. It is not enough to talk to the horse, you must also listen to what it is saying.

When "all she wanted was to eat grass" she was saying, "This is more important to me than you are." At that point Ben then says, "Oh yeah? Then you need to get out of my space! Move in that direction now!" Her moving, and if I was in there with her she WOULD move, her moving says, "Okay! I will! I'll show you!" Then he says, "Changed my mind, go this way!" And so it goes - "I'm calling the shots here, horse, not you."

Then when he gets the negotiation signals he accepts them on his own terms. Ideally, his own terms would be when she plainly signals.

His part is to be aware of what the horse is telling him. This *connection* business is based on choice. At any time the horse can say, "I'm not sure about this," "I don't like this," or "Nope, changed my mind."

Three degrees of uncertainty. The first we practice saying, "I understand, I'll keep that in mind but let;'s continue." The second we practice saying, "Let me give you a few moments to reassess this." In the third we say, "No problem, all the same to me, but if you are not going to comply you cannot be in my space" and we redo the bonder. Since the horse cannot leave and is subjected to the actions of a leader it must comply with we then re-connect.

This morning he went out to work her and did the bonder again. This time she went around the pen 6 times in one direction 6 times in the other and when Ben turned away from her she walked up to him (within a foot) and dropped her head. He put the halter on her, walked out of the round pen, she followed to a point then attempted to turn back. He jerked the halter and she went a few steps further (on her own) then he turned her back (on his terms) and went to the barn. She followed.

As I said earlier, the bonder is but a connector. It opens the line of communication - the lead following the directions of the leader. But the leader must be leading at all times. When one first starts this stuff one has to devote 98% of one's concentration to leading. In a very short time one finds that one only has to devote 2%, if even that much, of one's concentration to leading. It is an acquired skill.

In this situation, as far as I can understand it through email, one would slowly lead her toward the barn concentrating on seeing how little effort it takes to control the horse. i usually have the lead line draped over the horse's poll ready for grabbing if it moves off. It is standing beside me and I move one, two or three steps and then stop. All the time I'm seeing the horse complying in my mind. If it moves before I want it to, I merely wag a finger at it and go, "Uh unh!" Rather than leading the horse to the barn, I'm merely moving the control area a few feet at a time toward the barn. See the difference. Kind of each journey consists of single steps kind of thing.

Ben's question is....why does she do this perfectly one day and the next day she is back to having a mind of her own and won't do a thing??

Combination of factors, but I suspect it's because Ben is still learning. Some horses never need a touch-up, others do. That varies among horses. Usually the time between touch-up increases while the effort and time needed for the touch-up lessens dramatically.

His second question is...when he leads her she will walk right along side him with her head beside his shoulder. Other times she tries to walk ahead and tries to lead him, usually a sharp yank on the lead or halter along with a sharp "no" will slow her up. Is this the right way to correct that??

Another learning thing. The moment her head moves further ahead than it should be he should lightly touch her neck and say, "Easy." The problem needs to be addressed the moment it is occurring and not after it is a done deal.

I think that as Ben learns more he'll be surprised to discover just how little force is required to correct.

It is a world of nuances. Nuances that will blow you away with their power.

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