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6 Simple Ways To Pair Bond With Your Horse

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You’ve seen those horses that are best friends. They are nearly always close to each other and call out if they are parted or nicker when they see each other again.

They have what is called a ‘pair-bond’.

While your horse will never think of you as another horse, there are ways that you can use this natural instinct to pair-bond to encourage a similar relationship with you.


Here are some of the things that pair-bonded horses do and how you can include these activities with your horse…

They spend time together just doing nothing

What pair-bonded horses do:

You will often see them just standing around or snoozing together.

To include this activity:

Go out into your horse’s field and hang with them. No agenda. Take a book if you need something to do and read to yourself or read aloud to your horse if they seem to enjoy this.



They groom each other

What pair-bonded horses do:

They will spend a lot of time grooming each other.

To include this activity:

Spend time brushing your horse. Be gentle on bony places. Try different brushes to see if your horse prefers a particular one. My horses love a plastic brush with lots of bristles.

Find your horse’s favorite places to be scratched. Most horses enjoy a scratch on their withers, but other places include their belly, gaskins, ears, under their jaw. Try different spots and look for signs that your horse is really enjoying it – mouth quivering, eyes glazing over, etc.



It is possible to teach a horse to be gentle and groom you while you groom them (they just gently nuzzle you). But if your horse can’t be trusted not to use his teeth and he really wants to groom you while you are grooming him, then put one of your sweaters nearby, on a fence, or over a stable door and let him groom that. He will then still associate the smell of you with a nice experience! 😉


They play together

What pair-bonded horses do:

You will sometimes see them chasing each other or playing with an object together.

To include this activity:

While you shouldn’t play with your horse, like another horse would (too dangerous), you can encourage play by introducing different toys to your horse. Perhaps a ball that you can throw and your horse can chase. My horse Bella will throw a ball to me to catch.


They eat together

What pair-bonded horses do:

They will usually be very close to each other when they are eating. They will travel around together grazing or may share from each others feed buckets out in the field.

To include this activity:

Sit near your horse while they are eating their meals and have something to eat yourself. Don’t ask your horse to do anything; just let him enjoy eating. Feed time is one of your horse’s favorite times, and it is good that they associate you with this time.



They explore together

What pair-bonded horses do:

They like to explore their area together. If something new appears in their field, they will usually go and investigate together.

To include this activity:

Take your horse for walks. Let your horse pick the direction and speed by giving him a loose lead and following alongside him rather than leading. Allow your horse to stop and explore different objects and plants. This gives him some say in what you do and where you go. Horses really like to have a choice, which will make these outings even more enjoyable for your horse.



They do things they both enjoy

What pair-bonded horses do:

Most importantly, they do things together that they BOTH enjoy.

To include this activity:

Make sure that every time you see your horse, it isn’t just to work them. Bonding time should be greater than work time if you want to improve the connection and relationship with your horse. Regularly include these simple activities to become your horse’s best friend.

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