Tips From A Hobe Sound, FL Veterinarian: Bonding With Your Horse 

Horses have been beloved friends and companions to humans for centuries. If you think about it, they’ve played huge role in the development of civilization. They not only carried us on their backs, they’ve also helped with crucial tasks such as herding livestock, plowing fields, and transporting goods. There’s also something very special about these majestic animals, and the bonds we can build with them. However, connecting with Silver requires much more than just offering him apples and carrots. It takes time and trust to build that friendship! A local Hobe Sound, FL veterinarian offers some tips on connecting with Silver in this article.

How Do You Know If Your Horse Trusts You?

Horses are prey animals, and those instincts play a significant role in their reactions. Learn about their herd mentality, their need for social interaction, and how they perceive the world around them.

Taking time to learn about horses’ body language can go a long way here. Most people learn the basics when they start riding, or are at least warned that flattened ears are an indication that you have an angry or aggressive horse on your hands. Study your horse’s stance, expressions, ear and nostril movements.

Do Horses Know When We Take Care Of Them?

Yes! Silver may not be quite as obvious about it as dogs are, but they do know who’s looking after them. Groom and feed your horse yourself as much as possible.

What Are Signs Of Affection In Horses?

There are some clear markers here. Horses lower their heads when they feel relaxed. Silver may start approaching you on his own, or whicker to greet you at the stable. Other signs of horsey affection include putting their heads on you, rubbing their heads on you, or giving you grooming nibbles, which is officially called allogrooming.

What Are Some Ways To Build Trust With A Horse?

There are actually quite a few things you can do here! We’ll go over some of the top ones.

Here are our suggestions, in no particular order:

Spend Quiet Time With Your Horse

Start by just spending time with your horse. Even sitting quietly near his stall or hanging out near the paddock can help. You can put him on a lead and take him on a ‘walking tour’ of the barn, and let him graze and explore a bit.

Offer Your Horse Treats

Treats are great for bonding and building trust with nearly all animals. This applies to horses, too! Apples, carrots, peppermints, and bananas are all very popular with our equine pals. You can also make homemade treats. Here’s one receipe that nearly all of our hooved patients love. Mix two cups of brown sugar oatmeal with a half cup of grated carrots, three tablespoons of molasses, and a half cup of brown sugar. You can also add honey and chopped apples. You’ll need to add a bit of water to make it into a dough consistency. Divide into small portions and bake at 365 until crispy. People can eat these too!

Just keep in mind that too much sugar can be an issue with some horses. Check with your Hobe Sound, FL vet for more specific advice.

Respect Your Horse’s Space

Everyone needs their personal bubble, horses included. Respect Silver’s space, especially when dealing with a horse you’re not familiar with. Avoid startling him, and always remember to make your movements deliberate and slow. Silver is a prey animal in the wild, and it’s very easy to trigger that fight-or-flight instinct.

Groom Your Horse

Grooming is very important, not just to keep your horse looking nice, but also keep his skin and coat healthy. Of course, this is about more than just making a horse look pretty. It’s a bonding experience. Horses love a good scratch, and it’s a simple yet effective way to build trust. Take your time, use a gentle touch, and let Silver relax and enjoy his beauty treatment.

Good Riding Tactics

Good riders are very intuitive, and rely on sometimes very minute changes of pressure. An experienced rider may make a lot of progress with things like riding bareback or on the trail. Of cousre, exact recommendations here vary based on the horse and rider. Our best advice is a quote: Always the student! There’s always more to learn. Use aids, such as crops and spurs, gently and sparingly.

Adjust For Your Horse’s Personality

Every horse is different. It’s important to keep that in mind. A trail ride won’t be very soothing for a horse that is frightened of everything, and long grooming sessions probably won’t win over a horse that hates being touched. (Silver would still need grooming, of course, but if he doesn’t enjoy it, stick with the bare minimum and work on desensitization.)

Always Be Positive Around Your Horse

Horses are very intuitive, and they quickly pick up on our moods and energy. They’re more likely to respond positively if you approach with good intentions and a calm vibe. Take a moment to calm and relax yourself before handling your horse. This doesn’t have to take long: listen to a calming song on the way over, and take a few minutes to clear your head.

Stay Focused On Your Horse

Horses have a special way of making us forget about everything else. However, connecting with them goes beyond the physical. Be present mentally and emotionally. Leave your worries and distractions at the stable door. When you’re with your horse, focus on that moment.

Horses are incredibly perceptive; they can sense when you’re distracted or stressed. Give your hooved buddy your undivided attention, and you’ll find the connection deepening.


Groundwork can make an amazing difference here. It’s really about building that connection and communication with Silver. If you aren’t experiences with lunging or other groundwork, enlist a good trainer. It will be well worth it!

Don’t Force Things

Building a bond with a horse is really about give and take. Don’t force attention on him, or get into his space before he’s ready. Talk to him, act calm and relaxed, and take things easy.

This is particularly important when working with a rescue horse.It’s absolutely heartbreaking to realize how many horses have been abused or neglected in the past. Giving them a second chance can be extremely rewarding, but don’t expect instant gratification. Some horses will be very wary and frightened of people, and may need time to feel safe. Focus on any physical issues first, and take things slowly. Work closely with your Hobe Sound, FL veterinarian and your ferrier to address any medical issues. Silver may also feel better with a stable buddy or two. If you’re interested in learning more about supporting rescue horses, check out our article on Helping Horses for additional information and resources.

How Much Time Does It Take To Bond With A Horse?

This varies from horse to horse. It could take weeks or even months for your equine pal to really become fond of you. Much of this will depend on Silver’s temperament and history. A horse that was rescued from a bad situation will take longer to trust than one who has been pampered their entire life. Be patient, kind, and consistent. Love takes time!

Final Tips On Building A Connection With Your Horse

Horses are huge animals, and it’s important to treat them with kindness, caution, and respect. Don’t forget about safety basics, such as not approaching from behind.

Do you have questions about bonding with a horse? Contact us, your local Hobe Sound, FL animal clinic, today. We offer a range of services to support your equine companion’s health and well-being, including veterinary dentistry. Regular dental care is crucial for horses and can contribute significantly to their overall health and comfort, which in turn can help strengthen your bond.

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