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Do horses really become attached to people or do we just like to think they do?

Discussion in 'General' started by Mary Poppins, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. Mary Poppins

    Mary Poppins Well-Known Member

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    I hadn't seen my lovely horse for 7 weeks until I went to the yard on Sunday. It was so lovely to see her and it made me realise just how attached I am to her. When I went into her stable to give her a big hug she seemed to be happy to see me, was bright and alert and was nuzzling me. She has been looked after when I have been away, but no-one has really spent much time fussing over her like I do. Friends said that she had looked unhappy at times when I hadn't been there and she brightened up when she saw me.

    So, did she miss ME or did she just miss the attention that I give her? If someone else spent the same amount of time grooming and cuddling her, would she be equally happy and not be too bothered about who was doing it? We all know that horses form bonds with other horses, but do they really form bonds with people as well, or do we just think that they do to make us feel better?
     
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  2. mayoguinness

    mayoguinness Mayo my freind

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    Nope I'm sure they do. We all up at the yard have bonds with our specific horses. Not one of us could do with the other persons horse what the other person does. Mayo will follow me anywhere and try so hard for me. Yet for my friends he doesn't bother unless I ask him too......................
     
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  3. evilgiraffe

    evilgiraffe Mwahahahahaaaa

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    I think they do form bonds with people, but I also think that those bonds take a long time to form. I know quite a few horses that will neigh and whinny if they hear their mum coming, and they never give nearly so much attention to any other person.

    On the other hand, I think people are often a bit too ready to claim a special relationship with a horse, when it's often almost entirely on the person's side. That seems to happen particularly with people who have had a new horse for a mere month or two, and they start claiming the horse really loves them. I don't believe that horses form strong bonds that quickly.
     
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  5. mayoguinness

    mayoguinness Mayo my freind

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    I think it depends on the horse and person ;) For me and Mayo it took a long time but I think it really does depend ;)
     
  6. Gimp

    Gimp Gimpy Gimp Gimp

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    I think Kai just neighs at me as he sees me as the provider of tasty food :eek:
     
  7. Ms Kitty

    Ms Kitty I'd rather play Polo

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    They do form bonds yes, sometimes shared time and activities can make yours seem stronger than what other people have with their horses. This does not mean that they couldn't achieve the same, or that no one else is ever able to do the same with your horse given enough time. Some horses also are more affectionate than others, and I think the same goes with people.

    I see my horse only few times a year, he recognises me everytime I go home, but it takes a few days to rekindle the connection we have, which is great when that happens. But I would never dare to assume that Dad doesn't have the same kind of connection with him when I am not there, as he works with him a lot as well.

    To many horses I suspect the apparent "love" towards their owner is just the realisation that this person is the one who most often gives food, cuddles, treats etc. to make them feel good. If someone else takes that role, the horse will show the same amount of affection to that person. Might not happen in a short period of time, but will eventually.

    It is a nice thought to have a horse that "loves you above anyone else" but I don't think it is exactly like that. Though if you have achieved a good connection with your horse, pat yourself on the back, you are doing a damn good job! ;)

    Nina x
     
    #6 Ms Kitty, Mar 19, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
  8. StormyJ

    StormyJ Guest

    Definately. One of my mum's horses at work, Dawn, is completely devoted to her.
    When my mum came she was grumpy, you couldn't get her feet or do anything with her.
    She has "moon-blindness" (really bad vision basically) and when my mum calls her in the field her head shoots up and she stares blindly about until she finds her, and will follow her in with no halter or anything, which is a twisty journey with loads of escape routes! She whinnies and wuffles at her all the time, and as I walk like my mum she gives me a little whicker as she can't tell the difference!
    [​IMG]

    ETA: Two others, Raffles and Kestrel, see their owners about once every two years, and although they won't go near anyone else they come galloping up to their daddy :)
     
  9. Daffy Dilly

    Daffy Dilly New Member

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    Daffy is attached to me. Yes the attention I give him probably has a lot to do with it, but isn't it like that for everybody? eg kids and parents, boyfriend and girlfriend? If you didn't pay eachother attention you wouldn't get attached.

    He doesn't greet anybody else on the yard like he greets me, and faced with the choice of saying hi to me or my mum first, I win every time. :D
     
  10. Skyhuntress

    Skyhuntress Trying to escape reality

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    I think they get attatched. Or at the very least, realize who "their humans are"

    Arion will ALWAYS whinny and start to trot over when I come up to the fence...and I'm not the one who usually feeds him ;) He won't come over for anyone else.

    Storm, I think, is more relaxed in my company. When I got him, his coat was disgusting, he was thin and had no spirit-and it wasn't because he was being abused at the time (far from it, I bought him from my trainer) he just wasn't responding to anything they tried. Within 4 months, his coat was shining and he was a whole different horse.

    NOW, here's the *but* part. I think horses can adapt extremely easily. If I had to give up my horses for whatever reason, and found an extremely nice rider to take them on, I'm sure they would also be as affectionate.

    Keep in mind that it's proximity. You are the face that they more then likely see the most, and they (should) associate you with good things, hence they are affectionate.
     
  11. Ptaty70

    Ptaty70 Mr CW

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    Well I just thought my horse was a tart for affection from just about anyone and yes, he is 'nice' to other people, but he has proven me wrong.. we have great itching fests - mutual grooming to the max and he LOVES it.. when I was on holiday another livery friend groomed him for me over the week and not a wibble of the top lip in sight! Mum gives the best scratches!!! yay, CW!

    I really thought he would do it with anyone but am almost pleased that this is what 'we' share.

    No doubt that this bond would form with another owner if they had the same level of respect. No doubts at all. BUT am pleased that he knows I am his stable mate. It's mostly to do with the time spent with him (it's been 8 years so flipping yonks in his eyes), so very much 'cupboard love' but hey, I like it!
     
  12. magicsmum

    magicsmum New Member

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    attached or not

    I think alot depends on the horse as too how much they get attached to their owners. My daughters pony is defineatley very attached to her, she can do alot more than I will ever be able to, they seemed to have an instant thing between them. Its taken along while but Magic does now seem to be more attached to me than she was, probably cause I am the one how puts her out nthe morning, when we first had her she didnt trust anyone.She was terriefied of my son but now is very gentle with him. We had only had her a few weeks when we went on holiday for 2 weeks, in that time she was only caught once, noone could get near her. When we came back, as soon as she saw Laura she came galloping over whinnying and stood at the gate to be caught, noone could believe it!!

    One pony I had when I was younger was very attached to me, we had such a special bond, she would always go in my pocket for a polo, I hadnt seen her for a while after we sold her and she went straigh to my pocket as though she had never been away. her owner said she never did that to her. The again I have ahd others which dont seem bothered as long as someone is there to feed them.
     
  13. julia gulia

    julia gulia New Member

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    I also beleive that horses can bond deeply with their humans...and when you think about it? yes..they are forgiving and adaptable...they can go on without us...but they don't really have a choice...do they? It's not like they can call us up and say......hey I like this new human but she isn't like you....I want you back:D I have a friend who owned a horse for eight years but had to sell him (unforeseen circumstances) . Three years later...we went with her to visit him. He was turned out in his pasture with nine other horses. She shouted his name (in the funny way she always did) I was so amazed by his reaction......he remembered her and came galloping up to her...when he reached her...he stopped, lowered his head and tucked it under her arm:eek: I will never forget that moment. The other horses just looked at him like he was nuts:p
     
  14. Gracie

    Gracie Pony Lover

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    I have to agree, though I'd love to say I wish my horse only loves me, and attaches to me, I've seen him become attached to my part boarders.

    They were younger sisters, who rode Cherry 3 times a week, or sometimes just came to fuss with them after school. After a while the mom found it was too much committment for their life style, but after they stopped coming, I could see Cherokee was a bit sad.

    I think he really enjoys having children around, as much as he loves me I find he can become attached to others who give him love and attention.

    But, if Im out in the field and call him, hes the only one who lifts his head and starts walking towards me!
     
  15. Laura+Phantom

    Laura+Phantom Active Member

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    I think horses know who you are...i'm sure my own 4 do, Rusty is nervous with everyone but me, Rosie knows she can come to me for a cuddle, Cassie, well, she knows not to push me around like everyone else lol, and Phantom trusts me. They are very well mannered with strange people though (except the vet, Phantom runs, although Cassie thinks he has food)

    Saphy..loves attention from everyone but I think she knows me now and she licks me more than anyone else and whinnies when I say her name in the morning...i'd like to know if she does this to my dad too though. I think ponies do adapt but it takes a long time to form a proper, trusting bond. I've owned Phantom, Cassie and Rosie for 10-12 years, Rusty for 2 years, and i've loaned Saphy for 4 months, we're getting there!
     
  16. Slewgal

    Slewgal New Member

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    I think they do, I don't have it with Penny, but then I don't spend much time with her, sadly. I have been grooming her lately and she now does nicker when I get out of my car, but I also feed them when I come over.
     
  17. Bebe

    Bebe New Member

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    I've had my girl for 6yrs and it's only this year that she's started whickering to me when she's in the stable and I arrive. She does sometimes shout when she's stood at the field gate and wants to come in, in which case anyone will do but she seems to reserve indoor greetings purely for me, which is quite
     
  18. Slewgal

    Slewgal New Member

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    I always remember this story fron one of the Chicken Soup for the horse lovers Soul book.

    The Racking Horse

    The first time Bart told me about his horse Dude, I knew their bond had been something special. But I never suspected that Dude would deliver a wonderful gift to me.
    Growing up on a 100-year-old family farm in Tennessee, Bart loved all animals. But Dude, the chestnut-colored horse that Bart received when he turned nine, became his favorite. Years later when Bart’s father sold Dude, Bart grieved in secret.
    Even before I met and married Bart, I knew all about grieving in secret, too. Because of my dad’s job, our family relocated every year. Deep inside, I wished we could stay in one place where I could develop lasting friendships. But I never said anything to my parents. I didn’t want to hurt them. Yet sometimes I wondered if even God could keep track of us the way we moved from place to place.
    One summer evening in 1987, as Bart and I glided on our front-porch swing, my husband suddenly blurted out, “Did I ever tell you that Dude won the World Racking Horse Championship?”
    “Rocking horse championship?” I asked.
    “Racking,” Bart corrected, smiling gently. “It’s a kind of dancing that horses do. Takes lots of training. You use four reins to guide the horse. It’s pretty hard.” Bart gazed at the pasture.
    “Dude was the greatest racking horse ever.”
    “Then why’d you let your dad sell him?” I probed.
    “I didn’t know he was even thinking about it,” Bart explained. “When I was seventeen, I started a short construction job down in Florida. I guess Dad figured I wouldn’t be riding anymore, so he sold Dude without even asking me. Running a horse farm means you buy and sell horses all the time, and that’s what Dad did.
    “I’ve always wondered if that horse missed me as much as I’ve missed him. I’ve never had the heart to try to find him. I couldn’t stand knowing if something bad . . .” Bart’s voice trailed off.
    After that, few nights passed without Bart mentioning Dude. My heart ached for him. I didn’t know what to do. Then one afternoon while I walked through the pasture, a strange thought came to me. In my heart, a quiet voice said, “Lori, find Dude for Bart.”
    How absurd! I thought. I knew nothing about horses, certainly not how to find and buy one.
    That was Bart’s department.
    The harder I tried to dismiss the thought, the stronger it grew. I did not dare mention it to anyone except God. Each day I asked him to guide me.
    On a Saturday morning three weeks after the first “find Dude” notion, a new meter reader, Mr. Parker, stopped by while I was working in the garden. We struck up a friendly conversation. When he mentioned he’d once bought a horse from Bart’s dad, I interrupted.
    “You remember the horse’s name?” I asked.
    “Sure do,” Mr. Parker said. “Dude. Paid $2,500 for him.”
    I wiped the dirt from my hands and jumped up, barely catching my breath.
    “Do you know what happened to him?” I asked.
    “Yep. I sold him for a good profit.”
    “Where’s Dude now?” I asked. “I need to find him.”
    “That’d be impossible,” Mr. Parker explained.
    “I sold that horse years ago. He might even be dead by now.”
    “But could you . . . would you . . . be willing to try to help me find him?” After I explained the situation, Mr. Parker stared at me for several seconds. Finally, he agreed to join the search for Dude, promising not to say anything to Bart.
    Each Friday for almost a year, I phoned Mr. Parker to see if his sleuthing had turned up anything. Each week his answer was the same:
    “Sorry, nothing yet.”
    One Friday I called Mr. Parker with another idea. “Could you at least find one of Dude’s babies for me?”
    “Don’t think so,” he chuckled. “Dude was a gelding.”
    “That’s fine,” I said. “I’ll take a gelding baby.”
    “You really do need help.” Mr. Parker explained that geldings are unable to reproduce. Then he seemed to double his efforts to help. Several weeks later, he phoned me on a Monday.
    “I found him,” he shouted. “I found Dude!”
    “Where?” I said, wanting to jump through the phone.
    “On a farm in Georgia,” Mr. Parker said. “A family bought Dude for their teenage son. But they can’t do anything with the horse. In fact, they think Dude’s crazy. Maybe dangerous. Bet you could get him back real easy.”
    Mr. Parker was right. I called the family in Rising Fawn, Georgia, and made arrangements to buy Dude for $300. I struggled to keep my secret until the weekend. On Friday, I met Bart at the front door after work.
    “Will you go for a ride with me?” I asked in my most persuasive voice. “I have a surprise for you.”
    “Honey,” Bart protested, “I’m tired.”
    “Please, Bart. I’ve packed a picnic supper. It’ll be worth the ride, I promise.”
    Bart got into the Jeep. As I drove, my heart beat so fast that I thought it would burst as I chatted about family matters.
    “Where are we going?” Bart asked after thirty minutes.
    “Just a bit farther,” I said.
    Bart sighed. “Honey, I love you. But I can’t believe I let you drag me off.”
    I didn’t defend myself. I’d waited too long to ruin things now. However, by the time I steered off the main highway onto a gravel road, Bart was so annoyed that he wasn’t speaking to me. When I turned from the gravel road to a dirt trail, Bart glared.
    “We’re here,” I said, stopping in front of the third fence post.
    “Here where? Lori, have you lost your mind?” Bart barked.
    “Stop yelling,” I said. “Whistle.”
    “What?” Bart shouted.
    “Whistle,” I repeated. “Like you used to . . . for Dude. Just whistle. You’ll understand in a minute.”
    “Well . . . I. . . . This is crazy,” Bart sputtered as he got out of the Jeep.
    To humor me, Bart whistled. Nothing happened.
    “Oh, God,” I whispered. “Don’t let this be a mistake.”
    “Do it again,” I prodded.
    Bart whistled once more, and we heard a sound in the distance. What was it? I could barely breathe.
    Bart whistled again. Suddenly over the horizon, a horse came at a gallop. Before I could speak, Bart leaped over the fence.
    “Dude!” he yelled, running toward his beloved friend. I watched the blurs of horse and husband meet as if they were performing in one of those slow-motion reunion scenes on television. Bart hopped up on his pal, stroking his mane and patting his neck.
    Immediately, a sandy-haired, tobacco-chewing teenage boy and his huffing parents crested the hill.
    “Mister, what are you doing?” the boy yelled.
    “That horse is crazy. Can’t nobody do nothing with him.”
    “No,” Bart boomed. “He’s not crazy. He’s Dude.”
    To everyone’s amazement, at Bart’s soft command to the unbridled horse, Dude threw his head high and began racking. As the horse pranced through the pasture, no one spoke. When Dude finished dancing for joy, Bart slid off him.
    “I want Dude home,” he said.
    “I know,” I replied with tears in my eyes. “All the arrangements have been made. We can come back and get him.”
    “Nope,” Bart insisted. “He’s coming home tonight.”
    I phoned my in-laws and soon they arrived with a horse trailer. We paid for Dude and headed home.
    Bart spent the night in the barn. I knew he and Dude had a lot of catching up to do. As I looked out of the bedroom window, the moon cast a warm glow over the farm. I smiled, knowing that my husband and I now had a wonderful story to tell our future children and grandchildren.
    “Thank you, Lord,” I whispered. Then the truth hit me. I’d searched longer for Dude than I’d ever lived in one place. God had used the process of finding my husband’s beloved horse to renew my trust in the friend who sticks closer than a brother.
    “Thank you, Lord,” I whispered again as I fell asleep. “Thank you for never losing track of Dude—or me.
     
  19. Teehee

    Teehee New Member

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    Beautiful story!!! :D You've got me crying again!!! lol ;)
     
  20. Slewgal

    Slewgal New Member

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    LOL, I thought that was a good example of a bond, and to show horses DO remember people they havne't seen in years.
     
  21. cloang

    cloang New Member

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    Not sure but I think they know their special people. My daughters pony is on a very busy livery yard with loads of people coming and going. She always seems to know when my daughter is there before she sees her and lets out a "piggy squeal".. When she is able to be ridden, when my daughter dismounts she always gives her a little whicker. Other kids who have ridden her, don't get the little whicker:D . Makes my daughter feel special anyway:D
     
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