Affinity with your horse

orbvalley

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Jan 15, 2008
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#1
For the past couple of weeks I've been mulling over the fact that I don't have an affinity with Cocaïne and neither does she with me! I've had her for 3.5 years (she's now 6.5).
I don't dislike her and certainly don't hate her but neither am I friends with her. She's doesn't like being hugged, she's only ever whinnied at me once and that was because she was thirsty and didn't have any water, I guess she's what you'd call nonchalent (sp?) From a riding point of view she will go a long way in her "career" and it will no doubt be me that reaches a ceiling before she does. She will and has improved my riding no end. On the flip side when she's feisty she's a nightmare to ride and will throw everything she's got at you in order to get you off (that btw doesn't work with me anymore but it doesn't stop her trying when she's in the mood)
Being that she's on share now with the RS its odd to me that she has a huge fan club of riders that all want to get on her. In the sense that she's got great jumping capacity and is more inclined to speed I can understand why everyone wants to have her. But from a cute, lovely, cuddly point of view I just don't get it:confused:

So my question is - do you have an affinity with yours and if so how? (as in is it on the ground, ridden or both?) and if you don't have that affinity whats that like for you?
 

Kite_Rider

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May 18, 2009
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#2
Hmm it depends on the definition of affinity I guess, Belle is my horse of a lifetime, I adore everything about the moody old coot, she trusts me totally and we get on fairly well I think. I would call it mutual respect as much as affinity. I just think I’m really lucky that she’s such an easy horse for the most part.
 

newforest

She's not fat, she's too short :-)
Mar 15, 2008
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#3
Yes but we are not friends. We are partners for the most part.

You might be over thinking, you might but not be aware it or dare I say it you might be a little jealous. You actually need her to be popular because the RS wouldn't want her. :)

You have said what she doesn't like, so what does she like?


Mine has a fan club of people who fuss her because she adores that. I like the fact she likes that and I stop out hacking purposely so I can talk to people. (we get free carrots) Not everyone's horse will enjoy that and not every rider will stop to chat to locals and tourists to find out.

I did struggle to bond with her though. Neither of us were letting each other in. She was shut down and I was grieving. She wasn't the personality of horse I thought I would gel with.
I debated on letting her go. The turning point was when I nearly lost her.
If your horse wasnt there tomorrow how would feel, thats your answer.
I realised I did love her and I would be heartbroken if she didn't make it.


@Kite_Rider How would you put into words a horse of a lifetime? How do you know? I don't know if I would say mine is because I don't really know how people know or see that. She's my third.
 
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#4
I have a strong affinity with Scully - she comes to my call in the field, she nuzzles up to me when I stand by her head, when I first got on her after my heart attack she kept looking round at me - something she never did before or since and my RI out in Italy complains "we are too much friends" ....
I put most of this down to the many hours doing groundwork with her - she trusts me completely and I trust her more than any other horse, even the "safe" RS horses.
She is not the easiest of horses for just anyone to handle - if you are sharp with her and she takes a dislike to you she can even be dangerous (ask the farrier who thumped her in the ribs!) but if she likes you then you will get the best out of her.
 
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Skib

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Dec 21, 2003
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#6
I know what you mean by affinity - but it can come many ways: in the saddle, handling on the ground and in grooming.
I happen to prefer riding a forward going horse, so that forwardness would be an immediate attraction - the horse is offering you something tho it may not be what you had n mind.
But I am not certain that a horse differentiates between the things it offers to a human - for a horse, speed forward and energy on request may be a different aspect of ease and compliance on the ground.
The route to bonding for me is through grooming. My share was a biter and so risky in the stable that it was a long time before i was allowed to tack her up or groom her. But once she led nicely for me, then I tied her up and groomed her - I took the route from parelli that she must allow me to touch her all over. But I didnt do it all at once. And i started by gentle finger tips and talking to her all the time. I knew which part of her left neck she didnt like touched and talked her to understanding that I needed to touch her, whenever I chose.
progress went back and forward, me incrementally allowing her more liberty but restraining her again with a head collar if she was fractious. After a year or two she sort of accepted my presence and my ways. If she was bad I would warn her that I would fetch the head collar and even the mention of it made her stop messing about.
In the end as I have described elsewhere, I tacked her up on my own and she took to that well too, allowing for my slowness and lowering her head into the bridle. The YO said it was because I was so slow with the mare, but on the yard the staff interpreted it as a bond between us. But there is something more important to bear in mind. I was the boss.
I used to lead her back from my lessons and it would be lunch time and i was warned never to get between her and her food - but I had trained her to lead well for me, and trained to regard her stable as my space and not as hers. I marched in ajnd turned her and untacked her before i let her have the food.
The reason I did this is that in one's seventies one cant let oneself be shoved about by a horse. When my Maisie was in her final retirement she would tow the staff to get at grass, like Mary P described Ben needing a dually. I would remind Maisie that no, she didnt try to snatch food when I was leading her. I was different. It may sound odd but I think a bond is that security one achieves with the animal when both of you know that you are the one in charge of the horse. And Kite rider describes what it was with my share.

And with each horse it is different. because they each have a character. some will nuzzle you and some dont. Some will turn their backs on another person to put their head against you. And that is interpreted as a bond. it looked as if Grace preferred me to the girl who looked after her. But it could be the opposite - that i was an authority figure so she needed to keep her eye on me.

But it can be the human who is rightly wary of the horse. Your young horse sounds a bit like Grave who was not always controllable when asked to canter second and off whom I fell. And if you think she may go further than you that also could mean you are not 100% confident of yourself when around her and the fellowship which comes from bonding isnt there.
I mean that the horses I have felt a bond with have always made me feel good about myself. Not in doubt and if I was in doubt i would ask on NR, as you have done.
 
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Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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#7
Yes I have an affinity with Storm. Like @Kite_Rider she is my horse of a lifetime, I doubt very much if any other horse will ever move me like she does. Maybe it comes over time? We've been together over fourteen years so perhaps I enjoy the bond of familiarity? J was OH's horse and although I loved him, he didn't have the same bond with me. Storm is different, only I know all her secrets and she mine:)
It didn't start off like that though, she used to turn her bum to me when I entered her box:(and she had been very much a plaything of the younger riding school helpers and as such was apparently "wasted" on me (a few of the young rs helpers thought at one point she was going to remain in their care). She was never a riding school pony but was owned by a riding instructor selling on behalf of a friend. I only know that I treasure all our time together now, as I feel time is running away with both of us:(and wish Icould stop the clocks.
Lots of good points raised by @newforest too.
 
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domane

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Jul 31, 2005
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#8
If, when you say "affinity" you mean a bond that's reciprocated, then I would have to say yes, definitely! Those of you who know me from way back will have seen horses come and go from me over the years. I thought Albi was my "one" and ohmygosh we were close.....I still call him a Labrador described as a pony! But the closeness I have with Gracie has surprised me because I don't do mares! Oops! Haha. Actually the mares I have had in the past have been far more aloof than G so now I understand that saying about bonds with the right mares being stronger than with geldings.

I cannot articulate how much I adore and cherish Gracie, neither can I explain why she is my horse of a lifetime. The feelings I have for her put every other horse in the shade and I know she has "an affinity" for me just because of her trust, kindness, willingness, chattiness, all round easiness and her general demeanour around me. It's a strong bond.

Sorry if I've sounded gushy, but that's genuinely how I feel....and have felt since very soon after I got her.

I have very little affinity for Jack.... he's a hard horse to love because he doesn't give anything back... And anything we do to help his quality of life isn't understood and is generally a fight. However, in case you wonder why we have kept him for 8 years, he was the most amazingly safe hack in his day - and for that we put up with his quirks. Nowadays we're used to him but from me I'm afraid there isn't much emotion there.
 
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Frances144

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#9
Yes, we are like an old married couple. Been together for over 20 years and we know each other very very well.

I ride another and we sort of have "an affinity" and then I just reckon if we come back alive, I am doing well. I realise I don't have with my old horse what I have with this other but there is something there, definitely.

Others I have no affinity with at all. I sell them. You can't force it.
 
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Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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#10
I feel a bit mean now but Jess was always number 2 to Bo, he was my horse of a lifetime, before he died Jess and I were bonded but not in the same way. She isn't always easy but when the chips are down she always comes through for me. Shes not a very physically affectionate horse with humans or horses.
Her reaction to Bo's loss really made me see that she just doesn't show her attachment in the same way, she was always very independent and in their 9 years together I don't think I saw her reciprocate his physical affection, but when he went she really struggled to function, I hadn't realised how she'd been following his lead from a distance so much even though she appeared to be the leader/decision maker/agressor.
I'd be devastated to loose her now, it took us probably 10 years to get to a symbiotic relationship. I remember being told mares are harder to win over but once you've got them they will give you everything, I feel like that's her to a T.
I was blown away on Thursday, she was having a massage and groomed me for the first time in 14 years.
 
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chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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#11
My two are totally different in character. Chunky has a dull personality. He doesn't nibble, sometimes he will rub his head on me or he will just rest it on my shoulder. He's so easy to do. Occasionally he'll play me up but we just have a bond. We used to play in the field together. I would run and he would run at my side. Then I'd change direction and he turn and run with me. We could play this game for a good 10 minutes. All at liberty and without treats. For his dull personality if we didn't have an affinity he would just stand and laugh at me I'm sure. He is jealous of the youngster but I think he still sees me as his leader. Sometimes when ive taken him out on a hack and I stop of to do the cows I turn him loose in the field. Rather than get his head down on the nice grass he will follow me. Where as if I did that with the youngster he would just run off across the field and it would take a while for me to catch him.
The youngster, I still don't feel we have a bond. I think that will only properly come when it's just him and I. He is still young and is very independent minded. Sometimes he comes and nibbles me but he doesn't like cuddles. He will also play up being caught. Goes in waves. I think in time it will happen though.
 
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Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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#12
I read your post orbvalley and thought ‘that’s me too’ or was me too, up until the gti turbo pony bit which everyone at the RS loves!
Flipo is non affectionate, all but completely ignored me for the first five or so years of our partnership, but he’s very quiet and introverted, it’s just his way.
When we lost his fieldmate (owned by my best mate), all of a sudden he was more dependent on me and our relationship has grown so much. He’d never come to call before. Now I just have to appear at the field and he will eventually stroll up and see what I’m up to. I only see his tendency to stick by me, when I have someone else with me in the field. We can Be stood talking and he will gravitate towards me, even block the other person out and push them away by moving in between us and turning away from them.
it’s taken nine years, but we are most definitely in that lovely comfortable place together. On the ground and in the saddle. It’s been hard work to get here but oh so worth it. I think riding wise I’d now like something faster and more agile but I wouldn’t give up on my lad so until I can afford to, he’s my horse of a lifetime.
 

newforest

She's not fat, she's too short :-)
Mar 15, 2008
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#14
The trust people mention is interesting.
I do not trust mine 100% and that's reciprocated. We cannot just decide to go off and do things, she's not a take anywhere type.

Hacking if worried she looks to me, if she gone beyond that she's looking out for herself.

She trusts me 100% on the ground possibly because she's a follower lower in the herd, or I've done hours of ground work or she just does and that's that. If she's had a meltdown I am probably on the ground where she wanted me in the first place!

She's not vocal unless in season, she comes to call if in season. She licks and wants cuddles if in season. You might even get groomed.
But one of her habits is to pursue vehicles, if she does it in the field then she's not mine. :rolleyes:
 
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Star the Fell

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#15
My horse of a lifetime was Star. She was very aware of her personal space and pulled faces at anyone who came too close to her. She hated strangers and hated anyone touching her...no way could I have had a physio out to her. However, she groomed me, came over to me in the field for scratches, when she slipped on leaves on a hack and we both ended up on the ground, she immediately came to me for cuddles. She was very much a one girl pony.
Mylo loves everyone, and everyone loves Mylo. He is cheeky will let anyone do anything with him. He very rarely grooms though, and I certainly don’t trust him (yet?) as much as I did Star.
There is no way on earth I would have sold Star if I couldn’t really afford to keep her, I would have lived on toast for the rest of my life so that I could still have her, I don’t have that same feeling with Mylo.

Maybe it will come when I have had him a bit longer, who knows?
 
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Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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#16
Ben and I have been together for 7 years and he is my horse of a lifetime. Before he became injured the highlight of my weekend was boxing him up and taking him out in my lorry. Most of the time it was just me and him, and I loved driving out of the gates knowing we were off on an adventure and that he would always look after me. I have always felt so comfortable around him, I only rode him for 5 minutes before agreeing to buy him. The bond was there from the start. He has been an emotional rock for me as I had many years of looking after a sick child and without Ben I wouldn’t have had that escape.

And now I fear we were reaching the end of the road. I am doing my best but I sense we are losing the battle. I can’t imagine ever having another horse and if I did they would always be living in his shadow. How could I ever have this bond again?I feel like I am watching him fade away infront of me, both in body and spirit and I feel like I have failed him. The happiness has turned into despair and while we are both clinging onto the hope of good news in January, I am losing hope that he will recover. While the highs of owning a horse are great, the lows are crushing and it breaks my heart to watch him decline. I couldn’t go through this again.
 
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Apr 25, 2003
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#17
I know Buddy very well and love him to bits. He is a kind gentle rogue and is personality and general goofiness makes me laugh. He has been a lucky horse in that all his life he has been loved. He can be bossy and occasionally I have to reinforce that I am technically in charge but on a day to day level, I let him do what he wants and treasure the time we have.

But the one I have a real affinity with is Suze. Because she was the damaged one, the untouchable feral whose only answer was to double barrel you. Over the years, she has let go her fears and turned into a chilled horse who is very affectionate. the change in her is enormous. With her, I always have her full attention, she watches, she listens, she is living out at the moment as part of fat club winter campaign, but came on the yard this week for the farrier, and we spent some time just scratching her neck, and cuddling, she went to sleep. She is the horse I have learnt the most from.

Her daughter Fleur is the opposite, feisty opinionated and a brat. I didn't gel with her at all but when she was very ill from November last year, and I had to nurse her, worry about her, we have in fact finally got close. She has chilled out, calmed down, and is very sweet now, very loving. And I actually make a point of going and spending time with her, and making a fuss of her, as she is asking for company. We really never got on before, but now we are much better together.

Sasa of course was the one that got away. she had a heart of gold and she broke mine.
 

Jane&Ziggy

Learning together!
Apr 30, 2010
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#18
Ziggy and I know each other so well now. He trusts me completely, as far as I can tell. I always think of the time we were away at an all-day workshop and he was tied to a lorry. He was on edge, because we don't go out much, and something scared him. He trembled and bunched all over and was about to explode. I was too far away to get to him but I called out, "Steady, Ziggy, steady, it's ok," and he stood still and waited until I got to him.

I trust him too. He's come back for me enough times after I've fallen off, and jinked enough times to avoid hitting me on things, that I know he wants to look after me.

He's clever, like me, and stubborn, like me, and a bit lazy, like me. We were made for each other I think!
 
Apr 25, 2003
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#19
Ziggy and I know each other so well now. He trusts me completely, as far as I can tell. I always think of the time we were away at an all-day workshop and he was tied to a lorry. He was on edge, because we don't go out much, and something scared him. He trembled and bunched all over and was about to explode. I was too far away to get to him but I called out, "Steady, Ziggy, steady, it's ok," and he stood still and waited until I got to him.

I trust him too. He's come back for me enough times after I've fallen off, and jinked enough times to avoid hitting me on things, that I know he wants to look after me.

He's clever, like me, and stubborn, like me, and a bit lazy, like me. We were made for each other I think!
not sure Buddy would do that for me, he is more likely to take me under a branch.....
 
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orbvalley

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Jan 15, 2008
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#20
You might be over thinking, you might but not be aware it or dare I say it you might be a little jealous. You actually need her to be popular because the RS wouldn't want her. :)

You have said what she doesn't like, so what does she like?
I am glad she's popular with the RS, as you say I need her to be, its just that it puzzles me as to why she's popular. I found out yesterday as went along on an RS day (when she's ridden by the RS) and watched from a distance. She's just as indifferent to everyone as she is with me and as I had wondered already she's popular because she has no jumping limit and she's fast. The riders were all busy putting their names forward to ride her at the christmas puissance! I guess the majority of the RS riders aren't looking to bond with an RS horse so they don't feel as though somethings a miss.
Its difficult to think of what she does like tbh! She likes horses, food, jumping, & having her ham strings scratched:p I guess she's just not a people horse really.