To be honest, I've rarely felt what some feel is an essential part of horse ownership (i.e., "the bond") because I'm generally more concerned with my mounts being responsive, well trained and ready to do the job they need to do for their owners. Oh sure, I love my horses dearly and they're a massive part of my world, but for the most part I feel the same about client horses as I do my own. Maybe I form a bond with them all, no matter who owns them? Yeah, I think that's it. On some levels, at least.
So let's explore what all this means.
By definition, having a bond means, "To establish a close emotional relationship to or with another." Well, that's a good thing when you want a solid partnership with your horse, right? For me, though, it's important to establish the partnership as opposed to the emotional tie. My horses work willingly for me because I challenge them, I teach them, I show them the right way to complete a task and I am always fair to them. That's all our horses really ask of us: Fairness.
Connection defined is, "To be united, joined, or linked, to someone or something." Even better. When I speak of a connection between horse and rider, I am talking about an understanding that each have for the other and knowing the other's expectations. When I see that connection, I'm seeing the bond. It's readily apparent to any good horseman.
Watching a horse and rider team work as one, especially after struggling in the beginning, is one of the most satisfying parts of my job as a trainer. The bottom line here is getting horse and rider to work together instead of working against each other. Next time you spend time with your horse, take the time to think about what makes your bond so special. You'll find the answer to today's initial question right at your fingertips.