Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Hannah Russell
Features Writer
7:14 PM 12th March 2017

Bonding With Your Horse

This weekend with the weather being nice I took Alfie to my local ménage. Alfie has always loved sand. It's such a change from his usual field and stable. I think he associates the ménage with fun and playtime.

When I first got Alfie 4 years ago I was at a yard which had a ménage so every day Alfie would spend hours playing. Now that I have moved house it's not as easy to take him to the ménage, but when I do he has so much fun...

Playing with Alfie is a great bonding technique. I think it's incredibly important to interact with your horses and ponies on the floor in a safe manner. With Alfie being so small it's easier to play with him without the worry of him getting too excited and potentially kicking out.

So why is it so important that we bond with our horses?

Connecting with your horses or even pets is an amazing feeling as you can establish lifelong friendships where you trust each other, for example when Alfie gets frightened he always comes running towards me as if to say 'Mum look after me'.

Building a friendship isn't easy and can take a lot of time. With Alfie we clicked straight away. He was very young so it was easy to form a bond with him as he was always looking up to me for direction. Whereas with my pony Paddy it took a little longer to bond with him due to his past and him being a rescue pony. It took a lot of time for him to learn to trust.

The best way to establish a close relationship with your pets is by spending time with them. This can be from taking your pet for a walk, or brushing them or even just sitting with them. On a night I always sneak down the yard with a hot chocolate and sit in Alfie's stable. You sometimes even find me reading my latest manuscript to him on a rainy day!

How do you know if you've bonded with your horse?

This is a question which I once had to answer in great length. I did a short Horse Instincts Behaviour Course a couple of years ago and I had to do a really long assignment on how horses feel and how we know if our horses have bonded with us.

Personally from my opinion I think it's quite obvious. I know Alfie and I have a strong bond from his whinny to me in a morning; the way he runs up to me when I enter the field, when he turns to me in a crisis and lastly his eyes. The way his eyes are soft when he looks at me, I know he's happy.

Sometimes it takes a long time to trust and bond with your horses and pets but when you do it's the best feeling in the world.