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When do you know if you and your horse don't click?

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  • When do you know if you and your horse don't click?

    I am wondering how long people kept their horses before they decided they were not a good match personality-wise.

    I've had my new guy since last August. I don't feel any major connection with him and I am pretty sure he feels the same way with me. Of course right now I am emotionally wiped out (divorce) and he picks up on that.

    So I am going to give it more time, but I am wondering if there is a general consensus out there. A year? Two?


  • #2
    What have you done to bond with him? Have you just gone and hung out in his stall/paddock? Walked him around the farm and searched out the best dandelion patches?

    Some horses are not affectionate. The horse I had in high school was that way. I would go to the barn to cry on him (teenage troubles, joy!) and he'd push me over to find the last bits of hay on the floor. It made me cry harder...

    But there were little things about him I grew to love and I discovered he was affectionate, in his own way. Subtle ways that took me awhile to see.

    I'd give it more time. If you get along under saddle, and aren't frustrated with him in any meaningful ways, you probably just need to spend more time getting to know him.

    My last horse (mare) was the world's sweetest kindest gentlest mare on the planet. On the ground. Under saddle? No way no how. Other people could ride her, but not me. She had my number on speed dial and dialed it OFTEN. I gave her four years. (Or I should say, I gave US four years). I finally had to throw in the towel.

    My current boy is sweet and kind, goofy and quirky and came with a BAAAAAD reputation (as in, do not approach without a baseball bat and whip). I have yet to see any of what got him that rep, as he's been nothing but kind and gentle with me and we are quite bonded after one year now. So, I guess some horses work better for some people LOL!


    • #3
      Originally posted by FootPerfect View Post
      I've had my new guy since last August. I don't feel any major connection with him and I am pretty sure he feels the same way with me.
      I'm not sure what you mean by not connecting. Do you mean he doesn't do as you ask? He ignores the aids? He has bad ground manners?
      I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


      • #4
        OP, are you looking for that almost mystical rapport everyone talks about?

        You might never have it with this guy, but that doesn't mean you're not a good team.

        As Paint asked, is he a willing worker? Does he do what you ask of him? Does he do his job with little to no complaint?

        If you're having personality/discipline conflicts, or you're not a good match physically, I can see where you'd might want to find another horse.

        If however, you just haven't "clicked" emotionally with this guy, I don't see that as being incompatible. You're not going to have that with every horse.

        I had it with Conny. I don't have it with any of my others, although Casper is now my primary riding horse. I love him dearly and he's picked me as "his" human, but we just don't have the kind of relationship Conny and I had.

        Casper and I are a completely different dynamic than Conny and I were, and that's okay.

        If you're looking for some kind of overwhelming love and rapport and just don't feel it, that doesn't necessarily mean this guy ISN'T the horse for you.
        Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.


        • #5
          Some female friends and I once had an interesting conversation ( a la Sex In The City!) in which we discovered that Friend #1 selected MEN analytically, based solely on what useful attributes they brought to the table and selected/maintained relationships with HORSES based on emotional connection, whereas Friend #2 was the opposite (swooned over guys, but only interested in horses of X height, breed, sex, temperament, performance level...).

          Based on those examples I'd say if you're into long-term borderline abusive miserable relationships, touchy-feely is the way to go!!! Friend 1 endured a string of lovable but wretchedly ill-mannered and nonperforming horses, to her longsuffering SOs dismay, and Friend 2 had wretched boyfriends (but lovely, lovely horses....)

          So I keep telling myself The Black Stallion is just a book, and stick to The List. Whenever I stray and fall for a sweet eye or a flashy neck I inevitably get whapped upside the head with a sharp dose of Reality, eventually.....

          Third Charm Event Team


          • #6
            Well, you can use all the criteria listed above, think about how much riding time, grooming time you have put in with him.

            You started in August, so I would believe that if you have done YOUR part with time in the saddle, grooming and handling, you SHOULD have gotten beyond the acquaintance level if it is going to happen. You don't seem to have had it happen yet, but I do not know what kind of time you have invested in him.

            I would expect with regular time spent with horse since Aug. you should have clicked, or it is not going to happen.

            You have to decide if keeping him because he follows directions well, is worth it to you for a dependable ride. If he is not fun at all, get him gone.

            Riding SHOULD be enjoyable, on a horse who usually does as requested, is not going to surprise you with jump and buck stunts. Nice to work with on the ground.

            If I am not enjoying my horse, what fun is riding going to be for me? I will probably not be riding much anyway, on a No-Fun horse.

            Sorry, I am NOT going to keep trying if I have done my part, gave him a fair try over some time. Six plus months is quite a while, if you have put in plenty of riding time with him. I sure would not be willing to waste more of my time turning him into something he is not, never will be with me. Time for him to move on, find another person he will be better off with, so they can enjoy his talents.

            I watch SO MANY people who keep looking for that "magical" connection with their puke horse, giving "more time" to horse who will NEVER be what they want. Sure wastes a LOT of your life working with that No-Fun animal, and people seem to get hurt doing it. Those folks never really have much fun with their horse time out riding or being around their animals.

            I want a GOODHORSE who will enjoy being a fun ride, willing to work with me, SOUND so we can go out anytime to enjoy our time together. I do not need a top player horse, but one who is willing to be a teammate of mine in our equine activities. A Good horse to live with, not a "special" Super horse with issues.

            Every equine at our farm is a GOODHORSE, enjoyable to use and be around, we don't have any other kind. We are unwilling to settle for less than good ones we can enjoy. GOODHORSE is the highest compliment for equines around us, willing, team players for our horse activities. They LIKE to be with us, doing our horsey things together. Can't ask for much more from any horse.


            • #7
              Stay with it...

              I have owned my guy for five years and he is the polar opposite of Crafty, the special gelding who took me from grade school, through college, beyond parents divorce, into law enforcement, and through many boyfriends. Nearly 18 years later I put my best friend down.

              The gelding I have now is definitely not him, but that is OK. This one is different in so many ways and honestly, life was preventing us from bonding the way we should have been. I bought him as a show horse... not a mistake by any means but it changed my entire mindset. Rather than bonding with him by hanging out, grooming, grazing, and in general just "being" like I did with Crafty I approached it as a business relationship and EXPECTED him to bond. Not so....

              Fast forward to now. No more showing, but a hell of a lot more bonding time. Guess what... he is becoming my buddy.

              I am sure the divorce is impacting you and your body language more than you realize. Just focus on being with your horse... see where it goes from there. You might miss out on something really special...
              Gone gaited....


              • #8
                When do you know when you and your horse don't click? Well, for me I think it would have to be that moment when it first occurs to me to go on a horse bulleting board and ask. Yes, for me that would have to be the lightbulb moment.
                Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                • #9
                  You know you and your horse don't click when you come on COTH asking when do you know if you and your horse don't click.
                  Last edited by Come Shine; May. 15, 2009, 10:07 PM. Reason: AR: great minds think alike or I am too slow to hit send. :)


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Come Shine View Post
                    You know you and your horse don't click when you come on COTH asking when do you know if you and your horse don't click.
                    Probably true!

                    I was going to add, I have two horses. My first one was a great teacher, but also had my number, and I had a complicated relationship with her. She was fussy and grouchy on the ground, didn't like to be touched etc. One year she was laid up with a ligament injury, and I ended up spending huge amounts of time hand grazing her and hand walking her. It really built a sweet relationship. I'd take her around the farm while I did tree pruning or pulled up burdock or flagged gopher holes, and she loved the company and the adventure. I taught her to play ball this year, and she just has this huge grin on her face when I bring the ball out (she can whack it across the arena with her nose, and is especially thrilled if it ricochets back and causes minor mayhem). She hates being petted except in certain contexts, but she has the greatest facial expressions, great wisdom, and a great sense of fun.

                    Anyway, my second horse is my favorite to ride, but for the first couple years I had her I was always disappointed in her personality. This *week* for the first time she has started coming to me in the paddock instead of ignoring me. She has started really enjoying her grooming and stretching out her head for ear scritches and so forth. She's just opened up over the last year, bit by bit, after originally being a real stoic, somewhat untrusting, inexpressive horse. It used to make me so depressed that she didn't even seem to care if I ever showed up at the barn. Finally she's starting to!

                    Just to say, I guess, that "clicking" is more complicated than I expected, and can have some subtlety to it.


                    • #11
                      Hmmm...I knew my horse and I didn't click seven years ago. I've owned him for seven years...
                      Founding Member of "I Kept 'Off Topic Day!' Open"


                      • #12
                        Do you think about him every second you are not concentrating on something else?

                        Have you caught on to his little quirks that he does, and his silly little behaviors?

                        Do you see the special look he gives you when you walk up to his stall or pasture?

                        Can you tell how he is going to behave when you ride him even before you tack him up?

                        When you talk to him when you are riding do you notice his ears moving back and forth, listening to you?

                        Have you laughed at anything he has done?

                        If you answered no to any/all of the above, maybe you just don't click.


                        • #13
                          It took me years to click with our second horse, partly because he was, well, our second horse. The first horse we bought (as a rerider) is very expressive and quirky and just has a lot of personality. Monarch, on the other hand, is very stoic and bossy and can be a a**hole sometimes. I could have sold him any time in the first three years without any regrets But over time he has become just a wonderful horse to ride (like Goodhors said); you just come back from a long trail ride feeling exhilarated. I trust him; which I can't say for horse #1. He can still be a pushy horse, but man is it worth it. So I would say if he is working out for you otherwise, don't worry about the bonding. It will come if you enjoy riding him, in some form or another.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Come Shine View Post
                            You know you and your horse don't click when you come on COTH asking when do you know if you and your horse don't click.
                            Oh, I don't know. It would never occur to me to post on COTH and ask, but I suspect that's because, even having thought about it overnight, I still have no idea what it means to "click." Unless you mean that weird noise his fetlocks make sometimes.

                            Perhaps I'll start another thread.
                            I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


                            • #15
                              Interesting Responses!

                              Yeah, I've been going through this too. My first horse was a big puff that no one could resist, so loveable. New horse just has a different personality, seemingly hates people and very trying at times with agressive behaviour. The first year I had her b.o. had volunteered, "not the horse for you".

                              Well, I stuck with it (18 months now) and just last week found her two scratching sweet spots! So cute to see her lip quiver when I rub her belly! I also discovered she will contort into any position for a mint and have taught her some adorable tricks. She seems to enjoy the "treat game" a heck of a lot more than endless trotting in circles to gain balance.

                              Those little bonding things have helped me view her more as a "pet" than an excersize machine. She has finally accepted me as a buddy and I'm accepting her as a buddy. It has taken a lot longer than I expected, but it's happening.

                              Almost 2 years.


                              • Original Poster

                                I am kind of sad by some of the flip responses but thank you to those who offered up some suggestions. I don't have a trust with him. I've ridden pretty consistently (4-5 days a week) since last fall. I used to have a mare that was all business, not affection. But I trusted her. Current horse has not done anything really nasty, we just do not seem to communicate all. I've just never had a horse that could so completely blow me off. I've been riding for about 30 years and have owned a half dozen horses or so. Did hunters, jumpers and dressage over the years.

                                I know he did very well with his previous owner. So I was wondering if it was my highly stressed emotional state and if I should just give it a year or so or if I should cut bait and sell him. I just don't have trust in him.


                                • #17
                                  It depends on how long you are willing to stick it out. i've been at this long enough to know within the first ride if there is a glimmer of a connection emotionally. The ones i dont click with i generally avoid (training wise).
                                  My horse there was barely a glimmer, i was fascinated by him and he was romantically dangerous and a challenge. It took 2 years before he'd let me hug him, or look happy to see me. Now after 9 years together i get comments all the time on what a puppy dog he is and how bonded we are to each other. He follows me around and buries his face in my arms wanting hugs...
                                  chaque pas est fait ensemble


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by FootPerfect View Post
                                    I just don't have trust in him.
                                    Not being flip, but doesn't that say it all?


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Come Shine View Post
                                      Not being flip, but doesn't that say it all?

                                      Yep, sounds like you already have a pretty good idea how you feel about him and you just want to talk about it. I understand, sometimes that helps clarify things in your mind when you hear it out loud or get it down on paper. Too bad. If "clicking" with a horse emotionally is important to you, then you might want to look for another.

                                      However, if you're willing to work at it, it helps to remember that, as in personal relationships, its sometimes the best friends are those who were hardest won. Did you ever make a really tight friend whom you first were at odds with and possibly didn't even like at all? You might want to think about him and where he is coming from and what he needs. Maybe he isn't getting what he needs from an owner from you. In otherwords, if he isn't responding to you in some manner, maybe you have to work harder to find out what he responds to. for example, if its affection or responses to you on the ground, watch him and see what he gravitates to and try to find the smallest peaks of interest in him and capitalize on that. If its responses whilst riding, it may very well be that you are a completely different rider than what he is used to. What if you aren't using signals or communicating to him in any way he recognizes? Like meeting someone speaking a different language, it would take time to learn how to communicate. He could be stressed, confused or depressed that he is somewhere new where nobody knows how to give him what he used to get from an owner. From his point of view.

                                      I thought I would add, once I had a horse very difficult to ride, and I just thought, forget it, we're going out on the trail. We spent a wholel summer exploring the state forests and powerlines together. Turned out he saved me from some hairy moments, I didn't know he could leap over a tree, up the wrong trail (I told him to go up) sit back on his haunches and do a 90 degree turn and leap down the bank onto the correct trail, and over the next down tree, all in five bounds - over, back and turn, down the bank, back and turn, over the next tree and we were off. Cool horse!! Found out he'd go through any water. Nose to the surface, looking for branches, we picked our way through a flooded beaver dam. Got his back leg caught on a limb, stopped and shook it off and picked his way on again. The dear thing gamely slid down a shale decline from the ridge to water below, which looked like shallow water covering the hard road. Four steps in, he came to a shelf and his front end went down, water over the withers, with his back legs on the shelf, and he still wasn't finding the bottom. I sat back, the horse picked himself up, did a 180 turn on the haunches and in several bounds was back up the top of the ridge. We were both shaking when we got to the top. He stood there nicely, I slid off him and leaned against his shoulder until we both felt better. We were 40 miles from home. I have no doubt he would have swarm, had we beein in the water, but there were rocks and boulders around us, who knows what would have happened. Man, that horse was a god in my eyes after that. We had so much fun that summer and that fall. Jumping everying in our way, crossing every water, looking for trails and following them until they dissapeared into nothing, he'd wind his way through the trees back out to the main trail. Cool horse. And I'd have never known if I'd stayed in the ring.

                                      When we meet people as well as animals, we have to wait and watch and see who THEY are. Sometimes we don't realize that we are asking them to meet our expectations, when we should be learning about theirs.
                                      Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.


                                      • #20
                                        Haven't read all the replies, just the "topic".

                                        I think that the term "clicking" speaks to a person who wants acceptance from the horse instead of taking the time to gain the acceptance and knowledge of the horse.

                                        If this is your way of thinking, don't ever but an alpha type mare....

                                        Personally, my favorites among the genders.
                                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube