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Bonding With 4 Bonded
Semi Wild Mares

I have 4 semi wild mares. All of different temperaments ranging in age from 3 to 7 years. None had ever been handled before I got them After much patience they learned to eat grain and I managed to get halters on all 4 with their permission ( no fancy cowboying)

They drive real nice and mind the string fences I put up to guide them from pasture to stalls. I let them all have a drag rope for a few days to get used to that monster and can get them to step from side to side but have not figured out how to get them to lead forward w/o bribes. We have not bonded, they tolerate but don't trust. They are a strong group with in themselves and have not as yet melded in to the herd. They have been here 6 months.

At this time I do not have a round pen nor separate areas to break this bond. I have tried to stall them as far apart as I can, only turning one out at a time to get them to turn to the other horses for companionship, which they do until I return a second horse that I previously had done the same thing to..At that time the 2 rebonded and kept them selves apart.

2 questions

1st Bribes are ok but I would rather teach these mares coming with me is a good thing. How can I develop the trust I need for this?

2nd. Is this strong bond the 4 of them have really a bad thing for training? When I recognized the "lead" mare.. I worked on getting her haltered as the others watched.. They seemed to learn from watching her and they were much easier to work with once I concentrated on working her before I worked any of the others when I got halters on them.

By "wild" I assume you mean BLM adoption horses. My experience with BLM horses is rather limited. That is probably about to change as I have recently been approached and presented with the possibility of becoming a BLM Mentor. If that comes to past I will find myself in an area I've not gone into before - wild horses.

(The previous paragraph was written a few years ago. I have not been further encouraged or invited to become a BLM mentor because I don't fit the wild horse mentality in that I believe feral horses are no different than an ultra-suspicious domestic horse.

Since the above paragraph was written I have worked with a few feral horses and have become even more convinced that my techniques work with them.)

In Wisconsin I had an "uncatchable" "mustang" with solid burdock matted mane and tail caught in less than five minutes and the mane and tail de-burred twenty minutes later.

A lot of my work is based on herd socialization dynamics. I believe that horses are genetically pre-disposed to react to some situations in a concrete predictable manner. I set up situations and then place myself into them by conducting myself like one of the herd. When I do that, the horse reacts like I'm part of the herd. Since I'm determined to be the lead horse in my herd and I do the same things the lead horse does to lead, the horse accepts me as leader.

Many people think it's bunkum, but it really works for me and for those who use the same techniques I do. Even though I have not used my techniques on "wild" horses, I *FIRMLY BELIEVE* they will work as well, if not better, on them because the wild horses are much more attuned to the eons old socializations than domestic bred horses. (Experiences since originally writing this page has convinced me even more.)

I'm sitting here across the country looking at your email. Because of that I am as distant from your problem as I can be. Add to that I have little hands-on wild horse experience and we have a situation where I can only offer my feelings. If I were there, I have no doubt we could figure out something fairly quickly, but I'm not.

Perhaps what you call a strong bond between the four is that they have a level of socialization skills and social understanding that is way above those of your other horses. They are far more attuned to the herd dynamics nuances, both in giving and receiving, they are more comfortable with each other. In their little band there is no confusion. No signals are misread, none are misgiven.

It is unfortunate you have no round pen or other bonding enclosure. I don't know how manageable they are to haul, I'm assuming that would be risky at best, so taking them some place where there is a suitable enclosure is probably not an option. I'd be willing to bet that by performing the bonder with each of them you would see that they would trust you tremendously because you would become one of them.

*I* have great faith in the bonder and would run any horse through it. But that comes from experience. If you could fix up a bonding area of some sort, I'd suggest trying it with the herd boss first. I'd take my time - for example, do it in steps over a number of sessions. Go for the first stage one session, then go to the next stage the next session and so on. If when you complete the bonder with one of them and it does not let you remove and replace the halter at will and lead freely, I would be really surprised.

I do not feel the strong bond they have for each other is a training problem. In fact, I'd consider it an asset. If you are able to interject yourself into this "bond" you will probably find that they are even more attuned to you than domestic horses are.

As I see it, a bonding enclosure will be your ticket to great strides with these mares. Perhaps you have stuff around there you can make one with.

The sender's response...

They are not BLM horses... They were ranch raised.. no human contact except for winter feeding.. This was part of a 78 year old ladys herd .. she sold out as she has not been able to work any stock for the past 15 years. Once a year the horses were rounded up.. and the sold ones separated and shipped and the others turned back out to pasture. They are for all intents and purposes semi wild. Flight response is very good. Hauling is not an option, Had to be chuted into a stock trailer.. traumatic at best.. Get these girls scared enough... it's by by horsie,,, no matter the fence.. one did go thur the chute wall and it needed to be repaired before we could load her again.. only thing that kept her close was her pals were in the trailer and she didn't want to leave them. so she raced the corral till she settled down. Will be finishing a 60 foot round pen this spring.. Don't mind letting them be and work then. Thanks for your answer.. In my heart that was the answer I had as well..

I'd love to work these horses. If you have horses like this and are between Georgia & Michigan give me a call.

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