Monday, 24 October 2016

Bonding

I’m asked this regularly. I may dig a little deeper, “Tell me what you mean by bonding.”
If bonding means to you:
  • my horse feels safe/relaxed in my presence
  • he understands me,
 I’d say that’s very important. However, if you’re hoping for your horse to share your human emotional needs and share your goals, probably not.
Dr. Robin Foster, researcher of equine behaviour, writes that the horse’s perspective probably does not mirror the human experience.
 “People have an emotionally based social need for companionship, and research shows relationships with animals help to satisfy this need.
In contrast, a horse’s social needs are rarely met through his relationships with humans. In a recent article published in the journal Behavioural Processes researchers reported that horses are more interested in and form stronger connections with other horses than with humans. Horses tend to be wary of humans at first…”
 Attachment to humans might be stronger when horses are hand-reared, but researchers cautioned that
“the negative welfare implications of keeping horses socially isolated from others of the same species may constitute an ethical dilemma for caregivers wanting to increase their horse’s attachment to them.” 
How to make a horse feel safe? Is this the same as “trust?”
More about this next blog, but I’d like to hear your thoughts…
My list starts with
  1. the predictability of my movements and cues
  2. the predictability of the environment and schedule I provide

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