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A Bonder Session Report

Hi Marv,

Thanks for sending me the information on bonding. I have finally had the gumption to try it out and would appreciate your thoughts/advice on what I did and what happened if you can spare the time.

Arnold and I went into the round pen and he immediately started to graze. Due to previous experiences I had taken in a 'carrot stick" with me as he attempts to come in and run over the top of you. I asked him to start moving and he gave me the proverbial finger and carried on eating. I tried 'raining' on him with nil effect (just carried on grazing like I did not exist). I then used the 'carrot stick' and horseman string to TELL him to get moving, this resulted in a few paces and more grazing. I then INSISTED by getting closer and chasing him. The fun began he cut across the pen, bucked, kicked the side of the pen, reared, flipped his butt and snaked his neck at me, stopped turned, fronted up, you probably have the picture by now.

I persevered tho' I admit I was feeling rather a) stupid, b) nervous and c) frustrated. This is a horse that will follow me around in the paddock, greet me at the gate, is easy to catch and is what would be classed as gentle. Why did he suddenly grow horns (G)?

He grew horns because you had the audacity to ask him to do something other than what he wanted to do. Easy to catch, greet you at the gate, classed as gentle, probably because he is getting something from you...attention, food, grooming. He goes where the thrills are. But when you want something from him he doesn't feel you should have, he pouts all over the place and tosses a tantrum and tries to bully you into getting back to serving *his* needs. But in the best interest of both of you, it should be a two-way street.

You deserve some cookies too. Feeling b) & c) is reasonable, a) is not, you're a lot smarter than he is, and b) & c) will pass.

I see the term "carrot stick" a lot. I never use one. Nor do I have a halter, leadline or bridle on the horse when I work it. It is totally free in the round pen. I seldom meet a horse I cannot get to move around the pen merely by "seeing" him moving and quickly advancing on him. Not so close he can kick me but close enough to where he gets the idea that if I do catch him, he's in major trouble. Those few times I do have one that refuses to move I get a rope that is long enough to sling at him while holding one end and still keeping a safe distance. If you have to use a longe whip, hey, use it, he needs to get the idea, "I *WILL NOT* be ignored by you at anytime! Get out of my face NOW!"

NOTE: This was written back when I first started teaching folks Mind Meeting Mind In Minutes Horsemanship and I seldom used any tools to get the horse to move. I quickly discovered that "mentally" driving most horses is not something a lot of folks grasped easily so I began telling them, "Use what you have use to get the horse moving and no more." If you need a rope, lunge whip, carrot stick, or a cannon to get the horse moving, that's what you need.

At a clinic in Wisconsin one of the clinic participants working a feral horse came within a hair of getting kicked full in the face. I don't think you could have fit a sheet of paper between them, it was that close. Since then I have been encouraging folks, insisting even, to use a longe whip as an extension of their being.

I use one myself, mostly to demonstrate its use.

Link Image to The Wildflower Ranch

If he threatens you by coming somewhat into the center of the pen in your direction, give him a stern, "AHHHHHHHHHNNNT!" and move slightly toward him with a "Come on! I'll wrap this around your neck!" while displaying your weapon. Remember, your safety is paramount so don't close in too much, just enough to convince him, "Come in here to me and you're dead!"

Eventually managed to keep him moving although initially he went flat out after about 5 min he decided to slow down, stop and graze so I said no and pushed him on for a few more. He turned his ear to me and appeared to be listening (Ha Ha) however when I the asked him to stop he said no and carried on moving so again I sent him round some more. When he did stop when I asked his head went straight down to graze and again ignore me (I forgot to wait for the chewing and head lowering). This happened twice more with each time me sending him back out. Finally had his ear he was licking and chewing but only a little and his head lowered. I stopped him as soon as this happened and low and behold he looked at me and did not attempt to graze. He would not approach me so I walked to him and scratched his head and turned and walked away and he followed and allowed me to halter him still without attempting to graze (He will normally do this in his yard anyway but there is no grazing to distract him). This is the first time I have been able to gain some level of respect from Arnold whilst in the round pen and It felt good!

Flat out for 5 minutes? The object is to control the horse at all times. I would let him flat out two, maybe three, laps then I'd change his direction. You change his direction by abruptly moving toward the opposite side of the pen from where he's at when you decide to turn him. Don't try to stand in his way, leave room for him to get by in case he continues. I don't think he will, but you never know. Chances are he'll skid to a halt and turn back in the other direction. As soon as he stops and turns back, go back to the center and continue driving him in the direction you want. Speed is not important, control is. I prefer to work at the trot myself. If he decides on his own to change direction, change him back...keep controlling him. Read the bonder again, get the signals down in your mind and watch for them as you work him.

Should I have continued longer with him in the pen? Should I do a follow up session with him until he no longer displays the initial disrespectful behavior?

The bonder does not need to be done all at once or even completed if you are uncertain. No harm will be done by taking it easy. I prefer to do the whole thing beginning to end. It usually takes me but a few minutes to get the results I want. I want him to give me the series of signals laid out in the bonder. As soon as he does that, then I'll let him stop. If he tries to stop before I decide to quit or he gives me the signals, I make him move again. He stops ONLY when *I* say he can stop. And I only say he can stop when he tells me he's willing to cooperate.

I only do the bonder when the horse gives me some indication he's changing his mind or reneging on our bargain. When I repeat the bonder it usually goes MUCH faster. If I have to repeat the bonder more than twice, the completion time greatly decreases and the interval between sessions greatly increases. Some horses are set in stone bonded with one shot. Some take several sessions. Arnold sounds like he may need a couple of sessions, but this type of horse usually ends up as cooperative as he was disagreeable at the beginning.

You are VERY close.

The Bonder is available for free on the web but I move its location around on occasion because I want to keep track of who has a copy in case I want to add somethings to it. You can always find the current location by sending an email to my autoresponder

Click here to check out my very reasonably priced DVD inventory covering many of the subjects featured on my site's pages in greater depth.

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