Royal Grove Stables Q&A 
With Carol Whitaker


Below are Q & A's that may help you better understand how to deal with similar issues with your horse. (I have removed the last name of those that wrote in to protect their privacy.)  I am no longer accepting questions via email due to time constraints. So please read through the questions below to help you find solutions for your horse.

Also, if you enjoy our blog, please take a moment to LIKE Apollo's fan page on Facebook  and share our page with your horse loving family and friend. You can also add comments and answer other equestrian's questions on our Horse Forum.

I wish you much love, joy, and success with your equine family member and friend. 

Happy trails!

Carol Whitaker
What Dreams Are Made Of


Equine Activity Release and Hold Harmless Agreement for Royal Grove Stables/Carol Whitaker, and any and all stable owners. 

By reading the advice on Royal Grove Stables website/blog you agree to release and hold harmless any and all interactions with horses. Horses can be dangerous animals. Ride and train at your own risk. You are responsible for any and all interactions you have with your horse(s) or other's horse(s), Carol Whitaker and/or RoyalGroveStables and it's owners are not liable in any way for you or your horse.


Q: Hi my name is Davanesa, I recently came across your blog and I was amazed at how wonderful you are with horses! By the way your horse is beautiful. My fiance recently purchased a horse (about six months ago) and he's terribly afraid of people (but not children) For example for the longest he has kicked his stall doors down and ran off into the pastures, It has taken us two weeks to catch him . He's now not in a stable , ( He's tied to a tree in hopes he wont pull it down) It really saddens me because i would like for him to be in his stable and be a happy fun loving horse. Now I personally don't ride horses but my fiance let me have his horse so i want to bond with him so he will no longer be afraid and try to run away. Thing is I'm not sure where to start, He's a 5 year old Tennessee Walker , we call him " Sonny" he's beautiful!! I talk to him allot , one day i cried , i told him that we are not here to harm him but I'm not sure if he understands. What should i do? 

A: Hello Davanesa,

Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you found my website insightful.

I’m glad you want to create a relationship with your horse. Tying your horse up to a tree is not the answer. It would be like having your fiancé tie you up to the post of your bed and then trying to get you to like him, it wouldn’t work. You’re just validating why he doesn’t like adults. To create a bond with him you first need to respect his insecurities by helping him understand that you’re there to help him. You will not be able to bond with him until you have earned his trust and then doesn’t come by tying him up to a tree or anything else to that matter.

You need to find an location where you can keep in an open field that isn’t too big so you can connect with him by voice commands. Own your inner power each time you’re with him. You need to created safe environment to be able to create a safe haven for him where can come to trust adults. Children are pure in heart and that’s why he likes them, as adults, we have our various stresses that all too often we bring to the barn and horses can sense that clearly, resulting in an offish disposition and behavior.

Work on finding him a safe pasture where he can just be and where you can love on him and bond with him. Be sure to be the leader at all times when your with him as well, by moving his feet forward, backwards, left and right by free lunging by using your body language. Horses read our body language extremely well. Watch natural horsemanship on Youtube to learn how, Clinton Anderson is my favorite for explaining how to do so.

I hope this help. Best of luck to you and your sweet gelding.

Happy trails!

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hello Carol,

My name is Sarah and I came across your website a few weeks ago. Since then I have been hooked on reading all about you and your experience with horses. Thank you for helping envision  the relationship that I may one day have with my Quarter Horse Madison. Last night as I walked to my barn to make sure she was ready for bed she began to lick my hand and I was surprised. I immediately thought she was doing it out of affection but I am not sure. All of her body language led me to believe it was affection. In your experience would you say I may be correct?
I also went on your Living fit website and signed up for emails. I then reviewed a great menu and have been following it. Since reading on that website I see how important it is not to eat out of a box. You have been a great inspiration to me within these past few weeks both with building a lifetime relationship with Madison as well as eating healthy.

Miami, Florida

A: Hello Sarah,

Thank you for reaching out. I'm glad my sites have helped you with your mare and with your eating habits. Thank you for your heartfelt words, you made my day!  :)

Congratulations! Your horse licking your hand is a sign of affection and love. When horses love us and show their affection for us their body language speaks to us as well. They lower their heads as a sign of respect and trust and they have soft eyes and are relaxed. All of my horses lick my hands and even my face to give me kisses, it warms my heart deeply when they do.  You have definitely created a new relationship that will span the test of time if you continue to be the leader and shower your mare with TLC. Horses are just like us, they thrive with positive reinforcement and leadership.

I wish you many happy, fulfilling years with your mare. Have a beautiful day!

Kind regards,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: I was wondering if you could give me some advise on my horse.  I have a 7 year old gelding that I've owned for two years.  When I first got him he was great but now he is hard to be around.  I have done all the ground work in the world and spent millions of hours grooming and talking to him and just trying to be his friend.  But whenever I get him and halter him he will pin his ears back and never ever relax,  his eyes are always wide open and if I take the halter off he runs away and never follows me around.  Please give me any advise you have thanks, Madison.

A: Hello Madison,

Thanks for your reaching out... Horses are a mirror of us, when we are sad they will try to comfort us, when we are happy they are excited and when we are insecure they are too.  To improve your relationship with your horse you must first step back and look at you own life, feelings and emotions.  What has changed in your life over the past several years. When you are in harmony with yourself your horse will be more relaxed and at ease around you.  For you to strengthen your bond and relationship with your horse you need to become more confident in yourself.  Horses are highly intuitive and can read our energy and body language better than we can about ourselves. They always reflect back to us the energy they read in us.

For starters each time you’re with your horse stand tall with your shoulders back and chest out. Imagine yourself at work, if your boss came to you with slouched shoulders and wouldn’t look you in the eye you wouldn't have much respect for her as a natural reaction to her body language; however, if your boss came in standing tall and proud and gave a task by looking you straight in the eyes and complemented you on your high work ethics you would hustle to get the task completed.  Horses are no different, we must be in our power to earn their trust and respect.

Be present moment with your with your gelding. The more you are in the now and focused on your inner-strength, as if you were a Queen, the more your gelding will stand at attention sort of speak when he's near you. Just as a child craves a parent to loves them dearly but demands respect so it is with horses. Horses are a herd animal and need a leader, if their person doesn’t step up to the plate--energetically--they  will whether they want to or not. Each time you’re with your gelding treat him with love and kindness and reward him when he is relaxed by you. Make your time with him fun. When you horse does something disrespectful say, “Quit!” or say the sound, “shuttt!” Watch the Cesar Malan on Youtube (the dog whisperer) to hear what it sounds like.

As you focus on owning your power and reflecting on what has changed in your life since you bought your gelding, do so with an open heart. Let go of negative energy of any kind as you come to bond with your gelding.

Good luck! Keep me posted on your progress and have fun.

Happy trails,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hi Carol...I've been reading  your web site, hoping it would help me with my consistently, inconsistent relationship I have with my horse Yogi. Let me give you a little history :

Yogi and I have been together 7 years. I am his 4th owner. He is going to be 13 in May. I love this horse dearly!  I probably love on him a little too much :-) He can be great on the ground. I can walk in the arena with him at my side, no halter, and he will walk, trot, back up just with me at his side. He enjoys doing this. We also will have our days where we play in the arena ( he loves that). I can whistle for him and he comes running. Sometimes I just sit in his feeder while he eats, and just enjoy the moment. 

 After purchasing Yogi, I found out  he use to buck people off at the canter .:-( Sooo, I wasn't in any hurry to try this. To make a long story short, he's had lots of Chiro and Acupuncture. This has really helped him.  I have always given him the benefit of the doubt that something was wrong. That being said, I was riding him very carefully, and I believe too easy on him. I also bought him another saddle that fit better. We are riding western, he didn't like the bit we had, so I changed to a Bosel, that didn't work, and then we changed to a bit he seems to like. Basically  he has no respect for me in the saddle. Some days we can have a beautiful ride, other days he lets me know he doesn't want to do anything, or acts like I'm not there.  If you put a confident trainer on his back, he totally behaves. Right now, it seems to be getting worse for us. I am really starting to feel extreemly bad about this. My rides on him are not enjoyable. I have someone working with me, but I feel like my energy when I'm on his back is making it worse. I went and had a Reiki session today, hoping to relieve some of my bad energy. I was thinking of maybe riding another well trained horse to try build some confidence. I really want to be "One" with him. Just feel sort of suck in this cycle.

I would love your thoughts on all this :-)

Thanks so much...Your Apollo is beautiful.

Lisa and Yogi

A: Hello Lisa,

It’s a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words, Apollo is my baby!

Your nervous energy in the saddle is what is causing him to act out when under saddle. Horses are a reflection of our feelings and emotions, they mirror back to us that which we are. When we are sad or weary they comfort us, when we are happy they are happy and when we are insecure they are insecure too. For you to strengthen your bond and relationship with your Yogi both on the ground and under saddle you need to become more confident in yourself. 

I’m glad you’re into energy work, that’s a huge bonus! You can do EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to release the resistance you have to riding. Just as when we learn of something “scary” we naturally try to avoid it. You were told that your horse bucks and from day one you gave off nervous energy in the saddle unknowingly. You can tap out that limiting energy through EFT.  The more confident you become in the saddle the more respectful Yogi will be. I have clients whose horse’s respect me more than their person because I own my power and am confident on the ground and under saddle. 

Horses are highly intuitive and can read our energy and body language clearly, that’s why it’s so important to be confident around horses. When you’re tacking him up stand tall and walk confidently with your shoulders back and chest out. Picture yourself in an office at work, if your boss came to you with slouched shoulders and wouldn’t look you in the eye you wouldn’t have much respect for her as a natural reaction to her body language, but if your boss came in confidently and gave a task to do by looking you straight in the eyes and complemented you on your talents you would hustle to get the task completed happily. Horses are no different, we must be in our power to earn their trust and respect. You can also retrain your brain by using the art of visualization daily. See yourself riding confidently and having Yogi respect you as he does with trainers.

Also, take dressage lessons even if you don’t ride English. Dressage is the foundation of all correct riding for all disciplines. The better yours seat, the softer your hands, the happier Yogi will be. To sit deep in the saddle tuck your pelvis under and sit, as if you were sitting on your back jean pockets, with shoulders back, head squarely over your shoulders and core tight. Ride with bent elbows that give softly forward and back t the walk and canter. And ride with soft hands by using leg aids to steer him. If you don’t know how to do this watch Jane Sovoie videos on Youtube, she does an excellent job explain how to ride correctly.

Be in the moment when you’re with him, focus solely on your time together. The more you are in the present the more you are in your power. Focus on your inner-strength as if you were a Queen. Just as a child craves a parent to loves them dearly with leadership and respect so it is with horses. Horses are a herd animal and need a leader, if their person doesn’t step up to the plate then they will whether they want to or not. Also, when you feed make him step back away from you and don’t let him come into your space unless invited. Always remember that you are the Queen of the barn and that you demand respect both in and out of the saddle.

Also, do ground work daily, watch Clinton Anderson videos to learn various ground work techniques. When you mount be sure to have him soften laterally by having him touch his muzzle to the girth before walking on. In addition have him practice backing up while in the saddle, horses don’t like to back up doing so shows trust in you if he does so willingly. The more ground work you do by moving his feet forward, backwards, left and right by moving his hindquarters and forequarters the more he will respect you while under saddle.  

I hope this helps. Keep me posted on your progress. I wish you and Yogi many happy and safe years together.

Happy trails!


Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

 Q: Hello Carol,

My name is AMy and i live in Greece,for the past year i own a 6 year old mare wich is also an x race  horse.
My issue is that i want her to feel safe with me and trust me when we are outside for walks or ridding,
for the past two months she has changed from a confident horse that she was to a spooked horse arround trucks etc,
and i dont feel safe with her or trust her and i am sure she knows that and our bond isint that good..

The thingis that i get the feeling that she doesnt like me,alot of times when i groom her she doesnt want me,she swishes her tail
pins her ears sometimes and stuff like that,but then on the other hand she doesnt run away from me either for excample one time i fell off 
of her so dhe just ran in two circles and stayed close to me after that,or when she is loose she nickers and comes to me.
I think she is insecure just like me but i want to change so she can really bond with me and trust me but i dont know how...
i dont know what to feel arround her...

i hope maybe you could help me with some advice,
thank you very much fro your time.
Kind regard,

A: Hello Amy,
It’s wonderful to hear from you.  Horses are truly a mirror of us, when we are sad they will try to comfort us, when we are happy they are excited and when we are insecure they are too. For you to strengthen your bond and relationship with your mare you need to become more confident in yourself.  Horses are highly intuitive and can read our energy and body language better than we can about ourselves. They are also healing animals that long for leadership, love and TLC. 

For starters each time you’re with her stand tall with your shoulders back and chest out. Picture yourself in an office at work, if your boss came to you with slouched shoulders and wouldn’t look you in the eye you wouldn’t have much respect for her as a natural reaction to her body language, but if your boss came in standing tall and proud and gave a task by looking you straight in the eyes and complemented you on your high work ethics you would hustle to get the task completed.  Horses are no different, we must be in our power to earn their trust and respect.

When you’re with her own your power by being in the moment. The more you are in the present and focused on your inner-strength as if you were a Queen the more your mare will stand at attention sort of speak. Just as a child craves a parent to loves them dearly but demands respect so it is with horses. Horses are a herd animal and need a leader, if their person doesn’t step up to the plate they will whether they want to or not.

Each time you’re with your mare treat her with love and kindness and reward her when she is patient as you groom her. Make your time with her fun and if she swats you with her tail, tell her “Quit!” or say the sound, “shuttt!” Watch the Cesar Malan, the dog whisperer to hear what it sounds like.

As for her being spooked on your hacks first you need to look at her diet. Where she wasn’t bothered before there may be too much starch or sugar in her diet. Take her off all grains if she is on any and see if she calms down. Too much starch can make a calm horse high anxiety just like a child whose eaten too much sugar. You also need to do desensitizing with her even if you have done so in the past. Do everything you can think of from having someone open an umbrella while you’re holding her to having tarp go over her head to tying grocery bags around her stall or a gallon container with small stones in it that move and rattle in the wind. At first having bags in her stall move in the wind may bother her but within a few days she won’t even notice them and when she remains calm when they move then you can take them down. As you use various desensitizing techniques be sure to continue using the aid until she softens and lowers her head and licks her lips, when she does that praise her and reward her by stopping. Be sure to do both sides as horses have two sides to their brain, a thinking side and a fight or flight side, you need to have her strengthen her thinking side. Also you can give her calming supplements, such as Mare Magic, prior to when you go on hacks.

Safety is always first, I suggest getting her mind sound again before going on hacks where there are trucks and cars. And be sure to learn how to do the “one rein stop” if you don’t know how. I’ve had young horses run out of control on the side of the road and had to use the one rein stop to stop them. After doing the above suggestions each became bombproof on the streets and were much happier and confident too.

I hope this helps and I wish you and your sweet mare happy trails together!


Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hello! My name is Nikki, i started volunteering at a local horse rescue about a month ago. The first day i had been there i was walking in and introducing myself to everyone. One of the girls had ask me " would you like me to introduce you to some of the horses?" and so she did. The first horse she showed me was named Betty, i was in love. She had a pretty horriable past and a bag of bones upon arival at the rescue. And she no longer has any front teeth.. But i dont mind at all. I love her, so after a month of begging my parents they let me lease her, ever since ive been going out everyday possiable. So my question is whenever im there im always happy and joyful and i groom her, ride her, let her graze in the grass and she will look at me and she nudges me quite a lot, is this a good start to a bond? I really want to have one of those amazing bonds and i know that we can do that. How can i show her i love her and how can we make this bond stronger? Please and thank you :)

A: Hello Nikki,

Thank you for reaching out to me. Congratulations on your new mare, she is very blessed to have you. 

To earn her love, trust and respect you must be alpha with her by having an upright posture and commanding body language.  Horses crave leadership so don’t ever let her push you around or make you move your feet in anyway. If she is in your space bump her back with the halter and lead rope to get her out of your space.  Always be in the present moment, focus every part of you on being with your beautiful mare, she can sense your energy and will look to that for leadership. 

Free lunge her in a round pen or small arena, this will teach her that you are alpha. And when you feed make sure she backs up from you as you feed and then let her come over and eat. The alpha mare always tells which horse can eat when.  Also spend lots of time with her just hanging out and spending time with her. Groom her daily as well.

I wish you all the best with your sweet mare. Watch videos on Youtube on Natural Horsemanship to assist you in learning how to free lunge and do ground work with her, and before long you will have an endearing bond that will stand the test of time.

Best to your both!

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q:  Hi Carol,

We just adopted an 11 year old Appaloosa that was sent for slaughter because the breeder could no longer pay for all his horses (17 of them).  The breeder and his wife had become gravely ill due to cancer, stroke and lost a lot of time and money due to that.  His horses have become neglected as far as the training goes but not with the general care.  They are taken care of but not to the extreme that they could be.  Anyway, some one posted all this one facebook and the media got involved and all the horses were sponsored for 18 months (with ownership at end of sponsor) or for purchase. We were going to sponsor but in the end opted to purchase and board with this family as we really wanted to save at least one.  This is were our journey begins.  Fashionable Sparks (reg. name) now named Gimli has been keeping us busy.  He is a gelding and hasn't had a saddle or really been overly handled in the 9 years.  So, this family has really taken us under their wing in teaching us.  The husband and wife are aging but are braving our tenacity to learn and bond.  The gentleman has a large limp due to his stroke and his wife has lost vision in one eye from the cancer (cancer in her kidney and had one removed and is now diabetic)  Their methods are a lot like yours.  The wife used to show and train and is very confident with her horses and is instilling this in us.  We've owned him for a week now and have been to see him 4 times.  Hoping to get there today but we're having a huge blizzard.  Anyway, I was reading up on boding and working with horses and your site came up. Your words really inspired me with our future relationship with our Gimli.  I hope one day we an give our horse that feeling of security with us as you do to your.

Thank you and I'll be checking into your site for more tips.  

Have a wonderful day.

A: Hello Doris,

You are such an angel, Gimli is blessed to be yours. Thank you for reaching out. I am so happy that you’re learning Natural Horsemanship with him, that is a great start. When you are with him always be in the present moment and try to connect with him as you would a lost child, focused, with kindness, wholeheartedly and with love. A horse is confident and secure with their human moms and dads when they are in the present moment.  Be in your power as a guiding parent is to their child in need. Also when you feed him be sure he moves away from you as you approach him and then after you feed allow him to come to you. That is how the alpha mares establish their leadership in a heard.

Thank you again for sharing your beautiful story. Please keep me posted on your success, before long you will have a spiritual bond that words cannot express… it’s truly magical…

May the New Year bring you immense love, joy, peace and happiness.

With love,

Carol Whitaker

Q: Hi Carol,

I’ve just read your article and am so inspired!!! I am getting my new horse this Thursday, for a trial lesson and vetting if all goes well! Could you please explain what you mean with  “move his feet”. Should I just push him back or side ways – or actually pick up his feet and move them?


A: Good morning Sonja,

Thank you for reaching out.  I’m excited for you!  Owning a horse is truly magical in every way and will inspire you and uplift your spirits each new day.

To move your horses feet is by free lunging, moving them with your body language and energy.  Horses read our energy like a book, the more you connect with your horse on a spiritual level as well as a physical level the more leadership, respect and trust you will have with your horse.  It’s a magical journey...

Let me know if you have any additional questions. 

Have a magical day!

Best wishes,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q:  Hello Carol! I recently read your post on how to bond deeply with your horse. It gave me some Insight, so thank you! But I did have some questions,

I was introduced to this horse who come to find out, hasn't been given any love and hasn't been rode in months. I gave him a little love on the first day, and the next time I saw him he came running up to me, he looked so excited. I was looking into leasing him, but what I wanted to know was, how do you show the horse you love him? What certain things do people do that they think is great? I know he has some trust issues so how do I gain his trust? When I groom him, he is always very relaxed, and when I go to put him in his stall he rests his head on mine, i don't know how I should interpret that? So if you could help me out that would be great.:)

A: Hello Brie,

I'm glad you enjoyed my post, thank you for you kind words.

Congratulations on your new found friend! You've already started your relationship on the right foot, earning his love and devotion.  Everything you expressed in how he interacts with you indicates that he has already bonded with you and loves you very much. When a horse rests their head on yours or on your shoulder that's a sign of affection of which is a big complement coming from a horse.

To show a horse that you love them is expressed by your voice and body language. Always speak in a fun way, horses love to be sweet talked, spend time scratching their favorite spot, often having a carrot or apple in hand when you greet them, and look him in his eyes and say, "I love you!" Horses are highly intuitive and can read our thoughts and understand us through our energy. 

Always be in the present moment. Don't go see him with a lot of worry and concern on your mind, he will feed off of that which will make him feel insecure and worried as he reads your energy. Rather, leave all your worries behind and just enjoy him fully. Your body language is also critical in establishing a loving, trusting relationship, how your present yourself to him indicates if you are indeed a leader or not. Stand tall and walk in your power.

Your core is where your most powerful energy radiates from, when you walk up to him walk up towards his shoulder indicating that you are in a relaxed state. Your shoulders and hips also indicate how you want him to move, soften your direction of your body language when you are just having fun and when you are teaching him stand tall and use your core, hips and shoulders to direct him. To better understand this study Natural Horsemanship, there are several top trainers such as Clinton Anderson, Monte Roberts, or Pat Parelli that can help you learn the special techniques of bonding and creating a leadership role with your horse.

To connect more fully with him spend a lot of time just hanging out by grooming, talking to him and playing with him--be creative.  My stallion, Apollo, loves to play tag. I use a lunge whip and have him chase after me as I wiggle it in front of him, he chases it like a cat does string, it's  a lot of fun. Or you can get a big ball and teach him how to kick it and play with it. Horses are have the same emotions we do so the more you are kind and loving the more secure and happy they are.

To gain his trust more so do Natural Horsemanship with him, you can look on YouTube to get a bunch of  ideas on what to do on the ground with him. The most important aspect of gaining his trust and respect is to do free lunging.  Moving your horses feet forward, backwards, left and right with your body language establishes that you are the alpha or lead mare. To have a happy, safe, loving relationship this is a must. 

Never let him push on your or crowd your personal space by moving him moving his body in an effort to move yours, that is a sign of him being the leader and not you, which makes for an unsafe relationship. If he does so quickly wiggle the lead rope and walk towards him making the sound "shhhuttt" (as Cesar Millan does with dog training) while making him move his feed backwards a few steps. Once he does notice how he lowers his head and licks his lips, when he does that he's using the thinking part of his brain and is learning that which you just taught him. If he raises his head high with big eyes as if in alarm, do it again kindly until he lowers his head and licks his lips. You always want to end each training session by him doing that, that's a sign of contentment and understanding.

If you incorporate these tips you will establish a spiritual bond that will span the test of time.

Have fun with him! Creating a deep spiritual bond built on love and trust is like nothing on earth; I'm excited for you!

Happy trials,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Dear Carol

I just wanted to say thank you for your invaluable tips on bonding, I soaked up & enjoyed every word & am looking forward to putting things into practice.

Horses have been my passion since I was a child, however I was never lucky enough to own one of my own, until last year, when I bought a 5 month old colt foal (going straight in at the deep end!).

My boy had not had any handling whatsoever & was very mis-trusting of everyone & everything. However, one year on & with a lot of trial & error on both our parts, we have learned & grown together.

My boy is now unrecognisable from the flighty, scared little man who was lead out of his horse-box bucking & rearing last Summer. When he arrived, I could not get within three feet of him, but now he loves me so much - he shouts when he sees me coming & follows me all around, like a little (fastly growing big) donkey.

You are so right when you describe how these proud, loyal animals sense our every mood & movement - I can tell simply by looking into his eyes, the wisdom & love which lies within & I just know how much my boy loves me.

With the rain now easing off & the sunshine finally appearing, I am starting a daily routine of grooming him whilst he eats - & he does seem to enjoy it - giving off contented little snorts & heavy breathing whilst I 'strip' his Winter coat. Bless him, he even allows me to touch/hold his ears & caress his face. He's not so keen on the sensation of fly spray, but I'm persevering with it, as I want to desensitise him to as many things as I can.

I am going to read through your tips daily to remind myself, but was just wondering if you could clarify what you meant by showing authority by 'moving his feet'.......do you mean by lifting them, or by causing him to literally MOVE his body to my asking?

I hope you don't mind me writing to you like this, it's just that I have read/researched so much on the internet, but your article is my favourite, because as soon as I read it, I felt I could 'bond' with it myself - as it is my kind of thinking too & the way in which I believe animals/horses deserve to be treated - with honour, respect & love.

Best Wishes,

Shirley (United Kingdom)

A: Hello Shirley,

Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you found my site insightful and that it touched your heart deeply.

Congratulations on fulfilling your horse-loving dreams! Horses are truly a gift from above. They uplift our spirits and to empower us like nothing else on earth, they awaken a part of our spirits that can only awaken by their powerful essence. Your boy sounds like a dream come true!

You should be very proud of yourself, you're doing an excellent job with him.  You're correct when you said, "I can tell simply by looking into his eyes, the wisdom & love which lies within & I just know how much my boy loves me." YES, he does love you very much.  When horses follow you and love on you that is their way of communicating their love, trust and respect they have for you, it's a priceless expression of their devotion to you.

To answer your question about "moving his feet" this means to literally make him move his feet - forward, backwards, left and right. You can do so in a round pen or a small arena with your body language and/or lunging whip.  Horses are a herd animal which means there is always one alpha leader leading the herd which is established by the alpha mare by "moving" the others horses feet. The alpha mare always eats first, drinks first and tells the other horses where to go by moving their  feet with her body language by having them move away from her.

So it is with us, to establish a safe relationship with  your horse you need to "move his feet" daily.  Always instruct your sweet boy where and when to go whether in his stall, barn, arena or in-hand or at liberty. By move his feet in all directions by doing free lunging exercises with him you will set a clear signal to him letting him know that you are, in fact, the leader between the two of you. If you do not step up to the plate of being the "alpha mare" he will take on the leadership role whether he wants to be or not and move YOUR feet. Never allow him to move your feet intentionally, this is a sign of disrespect, if he does quickly make a "shuttt" sound and make him move back away from you.  

To move his feet, free lunge him in a small arena or round pen with your body language or lunge whip. Never whip him just use the energy to move his feet the direction you desire. Your core is where your most powerful energy lies, so always pay attention to where your belly button or core is directed at him in addition to your hips and shoulders.  Always be in the present moment and in a positive mood when you're with him. Doing so will enable you to build a trusting, more deeply bonded relationship between you. He will become even more endearing to you and confident as you continue to earn his trust by doing free lunging regularly.  You can also move his feet at feeding time by making him back up as you walk into his stall and telling him when he's allowed to eat.

I never allow any of my horses (especially my stallion) walk up to me uninvited when I feed them, this reminds  them constantly that I am alpha and to respect me fully. Each of my horses back up when I walk in with their stall with hay in hand, each then await for my approval to eat. Upon them being allowed to eat, I then love on them and thank them for their love and respect. 

Have tons of fun with your precious boy!

Yours truly,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hi Carol

My name is Mariette, I own a gelding named Sokkie.

I only own him about a year now and would like to ask your advice after reading your blog about your special bond with your horses.

I seem to struggle with my confidence when I'm around him and keep telling myself he don't love me an I'm just irritate him when I give him some love even if I try to tell myself that is not true. His eyes are usually big around me but sometime soft.

He use to be a abused horse when we bought him but he is such a sweet heart and never tried to kick or bite. I don't want to give up on him please can you give me advise.


A: Hello Mariette,

Bonding with a horse comes first by trusting yourself fully. A horse cannot trust us and fully love and respect us if we don't first fully love ourselves. For starters each time you're with him stand tall and proud. Horses read our body language clearly, better than we can read our own. So when you're with him act like you're a queen, stand in your power.

Next when you go to the barn leave your worries behind. Horses are highly intuitive and can read our energy like a book. If you go worried or disbelieving in your abilities he will read that and not trust you to step up to the plate to be his leader.

His eyes are the windows to his soul, just as ours are. If he displays wide, spooked looking eyes, that's your queue to soften your body language and tone of your voice to help calm his nervousness. Since he was abused it will take you longer to earn his love, trust and respect, but it can be done.  

Also move his feet daily by free lunging him in a small arena or round pen. Do so with your body language, energy and a lunge whip. Doing so will establish your alpha role which he desperately needs. Read natural horsemanship books or watch them on Youtube to learn how to do it properly.

Good luck and have fun with him, he's lucky to have you!

Happy trails,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Dear Carol,

I hope you can give me some advise. I am a first time horse owner and an ok rider. I just adopted a 15 year old QH called Charlie. He was a rescue horse. I volunteer at a rescue facility in Davie, Florida.  Charlie is calm and loving and I adore him.  The problem is my husband and I have fell in love with another rescue horse named Adele.  She is an 8 year old TB, ex racehorse. She was very badly abused beaten about the head and starved......just ribs and about 400lbs under weight. She looked terrible.  She was very head shy and really disliked men. She has a lot of quirks, she's afraid of lots of things like bug spray.....the noise bothers her!!  She has come a long way in the three months she has been at the rescue, but she still needs a lot of training.

My husband has created such a bond with her she runs to him making noises and puts her nose to his. She will leave her food to come and see him.  I introduced her to my husband because I fell in love with her too. We both have a spiritual connection with her. I can't describe it. Its the most amazing feeling it's like she reaches into my soul.

Now my problem is everyone at the facility keeps telling me that she is too much for us because she is spirited and needs a lot of training. We are novices with horses. I can ride pretty good, but my husband is not a rider per say. He wants to learn to train her and eventually ride her (trails only).  Do you think it is possible for someone without much horse knowledge to train and ride a horse like her.  I have to make a decision by the end of the month to adopt her or give her up. I have only been leasing her for one month which is not enough time to train her. I believe someone is interested in taking her. I'm so torn because she touches mine and my husbands heart, but I don't want to be stupid either. Can you give me your honest opinion......is it enough to love a horse and for them to love you back?  Does that translate to the saddle?

Thank You,


A: Dear Susan,

Thank you for reaching  out, you and your husband are angels. I know all too well of the “spiritual” bond you described. I have a deep spiritual bond with each of my horses as well, I can read their thoughts and feelings clearly at all times, I don’t even have to be near them to do so.

Having a spirit to spirit connection is more powerful than words can express… the bond you feel is that of divinity, a gift from above, she too has chosen you and your husband just as you and your husband have chosen her.

Yes, the love, trust and respect established on the ground translates into the saddle, that’s why training natural horsemanship is so successful is highly effective in creating a beautiful relationship in and out of the saddle.

Adele can become the horse to envision her to be; safe, loyal and mentally sound within time. As with all animals that are abused it will take dedication and a lot of time to reestablish her trust with mankind, but it certainly can be done.

For starters get her body weight up in addition to giving her tons of TLC. spend quality time daily with her loving on her and building her confidence daily. Since she was mistreated most of her life she desperately needs a loving, kind leader with whom she feels safe and secure with, which she displays in her love and trust for your husband.

She will you both to fulfill the leadership role each time your with her. Doing so will build her love and trust in addition to her confidence.  Always be in your power and free lunge her in a small arena or round pen every day for at least 10 to 15 minutes, doing so will help her increase the thinking side of her brain more so and lessen the fight or flight side. If you don’t know how to free lunge you can look it up on YouTube to learn how, Clinton Anderson also has an excellent DVD which teaches how to do it.

The more you gain her trust and respect on the ground the more she will trust and respect you and your husband under saddle. If you’re a novice rider be sure to take riding lessons to ensure you have a deep secure seat in the saddle.

To sit securely in the saddle sit tall and to tuck your derriere under as if you were sitting on your back pant pockets. Keep your shoulders back and have long longs with heals down with toes pointing forward. Always ride with soft quiet hands, use your legs to help steer her in addition to soft neck reining.  Don’t try to ride her until she is as a good weight.  

For now rather than worrying about riding her focus on loving and healing her broken spirit, doing so will help her find her own inner power and will awaken her spirit more fully to the magnificent mare that she is.  Establish a safe, trusting relationship prior to riding her and be sure to hire a kind, loving trainer for the first couple of months you put her under saddle to ensure you both start off on the right foot.

Good luck with your sweet Adele!

Yours truly,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hello,

My name is Andrea & I've just been reading your blog on how to bond deeply with your horse. I could use your advice with how to handle my young mare, Tic, is abt 3yr old now & was caught wild a year ago or so.. She's been trained to halter, lead, float, saddle & has been ridden by her trainer, but now she's back she tries to cow kick or acts like she's going to & either tries to or acts like she's going to nip me too. She won't let me close enough to halter her. Yet, when I go see her she usually greets me and comes over to say hello. though its not every time that she lets me scratch her or rub her neck or cheek. When it's time for a feed, she prefers to be fed by me, when given a choice of my self or my boyfriend, she chooses me.
How do I gain her trust and respect while not getting kicked or bitten?

A: Hi Andrea,

Your mare seems to still have her wild side a bit and doesn’t trust humans fully. With her young age and new home it will take time to gain her trust fully but if you are diligent and kind she will come to love you as her alpha mare.

To gain her trust and respect begin by being in your own power. When you go to visit her leave all your cares and worries behind and only focus on the present moment with her. Horses are extremely intuitive, if you have worries and concerns when you're with her she will mirror the same back to you, in the form of being disrespectful and untrusting, as she you explained she has been acting.

Begin by only talking kindly and softly when you are with her and don't walk towards her face straight on, that's too much energy from you and will make her want to back away. Walk up to her with soft body language near her shoulder and love on her as you stay away from her hindquarters until you have gained her trust.

Next make sure she back up away from you at feeding time. You need to establish your alpha role to gain her respect. If she doesn't move back when you walk into feed her then take a whip and wave it in front of you until she does. Then once you've placed her hay down invite her to come eat. The alpha mare always tells the horses in its herd when they can eat and in what order; you can do the same with her.

Next do a lot of free lunging. Free lunging moves the horses feet forward, backwards, left and right, just like the lead mare does in a herd. If you don't know how to free lunge watch Clinton Anderson's videos on Youtube to learn how to correctly your body language is everything when free lunging. By using your energy and body language correctly you will be able to gain her trust and respect fully. It may take time so be patient, have lots of fun creating a loving relationship that will span the test of time.

Happy trails!

Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hi,

I came across your website when I googled ‘how to bond with your horse’.  I went to see a horse last night which I am going to share with the current owner as she has 2 horses and needs a bit of help with this one (exercising / love / hacking etc).

I would love to be able to start to bond with her, I know she probably already has a lot of respect for her current owner, so wondered how hard it will be for her to have ‘two leaders’ or ‘two alpha mares’?!  She is a loving horse and has already put her head down for me to rub and has nudged me a lot already.  In comparison to her owner I am a bit of a novice, but have so much love to offer the horse!

We rode yesterday and she seems easily spooked (by a green recycling bag!) I controlled her and she seemed fine afterwards – do you have any tips for when I ride her without the owner present – how to keep her calm?

She is 15’2 bay mare and her owner has had her for 11 years and has had a lovely life and very spoilt.

Would she react to me if -

  1. I started bringing along treats for her, i.e. carrots / apples / mints?  Do you recommend any other type of treat?
  2. Are there certain brushes I could use for her which would feel nicer?
  3. Is there a certain place I should stroke her most which will make her feel loved?
  4. When you say you should ‘move their’ feet to gain control / respect – how do you mean to do this?
  5. I have heard a lot about the blowing into their nostrils – at what point can I do this?  Does she have to be nudging my face?  I don’t want to just blow on her nose in case I scare her away!!!

I was at the yard yesterday, and even though I have previously owned a horse (when I was younger) I am out of practice of yard duties!  Do you have any tips??

Thank you so much for your already informative and helpful website, I really look forward to hearing back from you.


A: Hello Lucinda,

Congratulations on having a horse to love, that is very kind of the owner to share her sweet mare with you.

To answer your questions, yes, any horse can have more than one alpha, just as in a herd, there is a pecking order. Be sure to always stand tall, as if you’re a queen, horses read body language clearly, so own your power when you’re with her.

I’m glad the mare puts her head down for you, but when she nudges on you, that is her way of establishing her alpha role over you. Horses don’t nudge to love they nudge to move your feet. If she nuzzles you, and perhaps that’s what you’re referring to, then yes, that is a form of affection from a horse.

As for her spooking, you can do desensitizing training with her on the ground, it’s not safe to ride a horse that spooks easily (especially alone). There are endless ways to desensitize a horse, you can use plastic milk jugs on the end of a lunch whip or hang them in her stall with little stones in them, which also makes for a fun toy to help with boredom.

You can also use large garbage bags or a tarp and run them over her body and head, all of which only works if you know how to use the training tools correctly. If you don’t know how be sure to ask the owner and watch desensitizing videos on Youtube. It’s imperative that horse lowers her head and licks her lips after each exercise and what you do on one side you need to do on the other. This is a topic that I could go on and on about, so be sure to research it on your own.

As for treats, that’s up to the owner, apples and carrots are always a favorite as well as horse treats that are made for horses that can be purchased at feed stores.

Brushes you need a dandy brush, which is has harder bristles and a soft brush to go over her after you use the dandy brush to wipe off the dirt brought up from her coat with the first brushing. You can use human hair brushes for her mane and tail, always spray a detangler before brushing so you don’t pull out her hair. And brush softly, don’t ever brush rapidly through her hair, brush her hair as you do your own.

All horses have a favorite spot to be rubbed, just rub her all over and when she puts her head down or leans into you as you rub a certain place, that’s her way of letting you know, “awe, you hit the spot… thank you.”

Moving her feet means to move her feet by free lunging her with your energy and body language in an arena. Horses move each other feet to show dominance and to establish the pecking order. You need to know how to lunge correctly for it to work, so read up on it and study natural horsemanship on how to free lunge a horse.

When a horse puts their head down to you with a soft eye and blows in your nose that is an expression of love and affection. If the mare breaths in your essence by blowing in your nose you blow back at that time, if you just walk up and blow in her nose it won’t mean anything to her.

As for yard tips, keep it clean! Make sure the mare always has a clean stall and fresh water. Scrub her water trough and make sure she always has a salt/mineral block next to her water. And if she’s kept in a barn, sweep the barn and keep the grooming area nice and clean as well. You can also clean out the grooming brushes as well.

Have lots of fun bonding with the sweet mare, the more time you spend loving her and owning your power with her the more she will love, trust and respect you.

Happy trails!

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hello Carol,
I just bought  a Palomino quarter horse gelding last week he is 5 1/2 yrs old. He is very friendly loves people does good on a lead.
His is so spooky that he freaks out when tied he has broken two hitching post. I am not sure where to start he jumps for almost everything
quick movements noise he’s almost always on alert. Any suggestions would be great.
Thank you,
Martha Hanna
A: Hello Martha,

Thank you for your question. To help your gelding use the thinking side of his brain instead of his fight or flight side begin with his diet and then doing desensitizing ground exercises.  

For starters illuminate all grains, pellets or sweet feed from his diet, only feed him hay and any supplements you feed. Horses weren’t designed for sweet feeds and can cause some horses to be too hyper and anxious. Stick with good clean hay until he becomes confident and calm and then you can introduce grains if you choose.

Next, do desensitizing exercises in an arena or round pen at least 4 times a week for 30 minutes. For example, you can use a grocery sack on an the end of a lung whip and move it all over his body. At first he’ll try to run from it and when he does follow him and continue to rub the sack on him until he calms down, lowers his head and/or licks his lips. When a horse licks his lips he is using the thinking side of his brain. And when he does stop rubbing him and reward him with his favorite treat. Then work on his other side, always work both sides as their brain thinks differently on each side. You can use all kinds of desensitizing techniques, for more ideas search Youtube to get more ideas.

Next buys some  Blocker Tie Rings and do not tie him to any hitching posts (for now) to teach him how to be tied calming. Blocker Tie Rings were especially designed for spooky horses that pull when their tied, a horse that pulls and feels trapped become highly dangerous as his fight or flight endorphins take over his thinking side of his brain resulting in pulling back frantically until freed. Blocker Tie Rings give when pulled on which stops the fight or flight reaction before it kicks in. 

You can learn more about the BTR on their site at http://www.blockerranch.com/index.php, they also have a video clip of Clinton Anderson which explains how to train a horse not to pull back when tied. Teaching your horse to tie calmly is essential first and foremost, so buy some Blocker Tie Rings for your barn and trailer as soon as you can.

Also be sure that you establish that you are the alpha mare when you are with your gelding. A horse needs an alpha leader to feel safe and confident. To be the leader and gain his trust and respect always be in your power when you’re with him, stand tall and be in the present moment, horse read body language like book. So pay attention to your body language when you’re with him.

Don’t let him ever push you around, if he nudges you with his head that’s his way of moving your feet to establish that he’s the alpha.  You can establish your role as his leader by free lunging him with your body language in an arena and by having him walk in stride with you without a halter or lead rope. When he follows your every step while you’re walking with him in an arena without a lead that’s when you are the alpha between the two of you.

Always teach your gelding with positive reinforcement. Love, praise and reward him for even the slightest effort he gives as he tries to learns how to be a safe, confident boy while teaching him. The more confident he feels the safer, happier and healthier he will be.

Keep me posted on his progress. Have fun training and good luck!

Happy trails!

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

 Q: Hi

I have been very lucky to have a beautiful Gypsy Cob come into my life about 10 weeks ago.  She had been badly treated and was broken way too early as she is still not quite four years old and was being used as a ride and drive.  I saw a picture of her online and connected and just knew I had to have her so I threw caution to the wind and without even seeing her I bought her and had her transported down to me which took over 13 hours.  She was severely malnourished when she arrived and after a full vet check I have now built her weight back up.  She has the most beautiful nature the minute she sees me coming in the distance she comes to meet me and like you said in your blog she also follows me like a big lab.  Anyway the reason why I am writing to you is although she is perfect and beautiful she has been left one legacy of her past very hard life that I am having problems with. 
She will not let me lift her feet, apparently six horrible men got her down on her side and held her there and shod her, obviously this was a traumatic experience for her.  She will sometimes let me brush her back feet but the next day she won't let me near them again.  I spend lots of time with her giving her love and reassurance but it doesn't seem to help when I get near her feet.
Being a Gypsy Cob she has very long feathers so foot care is vital, she now needs her feet trimming my vet has given me a sedative to give her for when she see's the farrier but I don't really want to drug her every time.  I would be so very appreciative of any advice you can give me.  I just want my beautiful girl to be treated and loved as she so truly deserves.

bright blessings
Jackie x

A: Hello Jackie,

Your mare is very blessed to have you for her human mom. Bless you’re her heart, I can only imagine how traumatic it was for her to be held down to be shod. 

To enable you to lift her feet safely and without issue will take time, patience and perseverance.  You will need to create safe feelings and experiences for your horse to having her feet worked on. Until you establish the trust of working with her feet I suggest using Mare Magic to help sooth her when your farrier comes. Mare Magic is an herbal calming supplement that works wonders! 

Training your sweet mare to pick up her feet will take a lot of love and understanding on your part.  Begin by breaking up your training into short 5 minute sessions. Do the exercises I'm about to teach you in an open space where she doesn't feel confined in anyway. Have plenty of her favorite treats as you begin her feet lifting training.

Begin  by rubbing your hand down her front legs slowly and as you do speak softly to her reassuring her what a "good girl" she is. When you get near her feet if she stands still retreat, then praise her and give her a treat.  If she will not let you near her feet don't push her, you want to build her confidence not validate how she feels; just pet her as far down as you can with her standing still and then retread and reward her. Do it several times and then stop messing with her feet.

Then after she is comfortable with you touching her feet use a lead rope and place it around her front foot pastern to use it like a lever to lift her foot up. Have her smell the lead rope first before placing it around her pastern.  The lead rope acts like a lever and will enable you to lift her  foot safely from standing position.  Stand at her shoulder and pull the lead rope up towards her back, this will put pressure on her pastern for her to lift it up.  Do it as a game and reward her with a treat for her slightest effort. Again, keep the training sessions short and sweet, you can do it for 5 minutes for each front leg.

If she struggles at first and gets spooked reassure her that she's a good girl and stroke her neck to calm her down. Then try again. Soon she should let you lift her foot an inch or two and then she will naturally hold it up for you. With each strive she makes reward and praise her.  Always end on a good note with each training you do with her.

After a while, (it could be a long while) she should come to trust you and will lift her feet willingly for you and for your farrier, but in the meantime play with her feet every day, and be sure to always end on a happy note.

Keep me posted on her progress and good luck!


Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hi there
I am from the uk. Quite experienced and had many horses, some with great bonds. I am a mum now to two beautiful girls and v really want my horse I have now to be my forever horse. He is a 5 yr old pure arabian. Any tips or advice would be so  appreciated. I want to event him eventually.  So far we are hacking alone and in company and schooling. He can be nappy and spooky at times. Shane x

A: Hello Shane,

Congratulations on finding your forever horse!

To help your horse not spook you need to build his “thinking side” of his brain rather than his “fight or fight” side. To begin, feed him a grain free diet, high quality hay and supplements of choice and incorporating desensitizing ground exercises at least 4 days a week for 20 to 30 minutes.  

For starters illuminate all grains, pellets or sweet feed from his diet, only feed him hay and any supplements you feed. Horses weren’t designed for sweet feeds and can cause some horses to be high strung and anxious. Stick with good clean hay until he becomes confident and calm and then you can introduce grains if you choose.

Next, do desensitizing exercises in an arena or round pen. For example, you can use a grocery sack on an the end of a lung whip and move it all over his body. At first he may try to run from it and when he does simply follow him and continue to rub the sack on him until he calms down, lowers his head and/or licks his lips. When your horse licks his lips he is using the thinking side of his brain. And when he licks his lips stop rubbing him with the grocery sack and reward him with his favorite treat. Then work on his other side, always work both sides as their brain thinks differently on each side. You can use all kinds of desensitizing techniques, for more ideas search Youtube to get more ideas. Do desensitizing exercises until you can do them and he just stands there looking at you calmly.

To bond always be in your power and be an alpha leader. Speak softly to him but make sure he always respects your space. A horse needs an alpha leader to be able to bond fully. To establish your alpha role free lunge him in an arena or round pen by moving him with your energy and body language. Never let your horse push on you or move your feet intentionally, he is only establishing his dominance. If he does quickly move his feet by making him back up away from you quickly. Then invite him into your space again to establish your leadership role in your relationship.

Always treat your horse with love and respect, never pull on his mouth to lead him instead ask him to walk with you. The more you treat him how you want to be treated the more your relationship will grow. Allow him to blow in your nose and groom him every day.

Enjoy your time training and bonding with him and soon he will become all you wish him to be.

Best wishes,

Carol Whitaker
Royal Grove Stables

Q: Hello Carol, I want to ask you a question. We just bought to horses from a woman here in Ohio. Who rescues horses. The first day we got them. They seemed to be fine. We rode them a little in the pasture. There is a dominate one. They are both mares. The second day, they come up to feed. We brushed them and just spending time with them. Well the third day the dominate one started pinning ears back and would nip at you. You can ride her she doesnt nip. Its like when you are leading or brushing,touching her over. Or if your just standing there. She will do this. My grand daughter and I was in the pasture field doing something. And my grand daughter went close to pet her. And she did it to her. Now they both will come right up to you or when called. And she never seems to do it then. She dominates the other horse when feeding. They do have to be tied different spots when eating. I have contacted the lady we bought them off of. And she was surprised and also disappointed in the way the horse is acting. She said volunteers work for her and everyone rides them. She is trying to help me figure out whats going on. She thinks maybe its in a switch from the riding and things up there. Because the volunteers werent aloud to get real close to any certain horse. And down here it is just us brushing and spending time with them. So she told me wait and let the dominate one come to us. Im not sure what this means. These are actually our first horses of owning. We have ridden horses many of times growing up. The dominate one is a paint her name is acyrlic she is 6. But im here trying to figure out why she is being this way. If you could possible shed some light or send me in the right direction as how to help this horse and us to get this stopped before it becomes a habit. She is actually my grand daughters horse and we dont want her to become afraid of her. Before they get a chance to even know each other. -Joetta

A: Hello Joetta,

Congratulations on your new horses. Horses are a lot of fun but also require a lot of work in creating a leadership, alpha roll with them. The alpha mare that is nippy is letting everyone know that she rules the roost, in her mind she is the alpha mare over you and your granddaughter.  You will need to establish clearly that you are the “alpha mare” if you don’t and your granddaughter do not step up to the plate she will continue to be pushy, nippy and disrespectful.

To establish that you are alpha you need to spend time doing Natural Horsemanship such as free lunging in a round pen or a small arena. I’m a big fan of free lunging because it allows us as humans to be an alpha mare in a herd, we move the horse’s feet with our body language and lunging whip is like an extension of our arm. If you don’t know how to free lunge then you can look up Clinton Anderson’s how to round pen DVD or check on Youtube.

Also your body language and energy speaks loud and clear to a horse, they read our body language and read our energy like a book. Walk tall and proud each time you’re with the alpha mare and do not ever let her push on you or be in your space. When you have her under halter make her back out of your space as if you had a hula-hoop around you. You can invite her into your space or you can walk up to her. And when you feed make her back up and wait until you tell her she can eat, just like an alpha mare does in a herd.

You may also want to hire a professional Natural Horsemanship trainer in your area to help you. Safety is always first with horses, especially for your granddaughter. You need to ensure that the lead mare trusts and respects you and your granddaughter to have a safe and happy relationship with her.

Good luck and happy trails!

Carol Whitaker

Q: My name is Carole I'm 52 and have been fighting an illness for the last year I have IIH because of this I haven't spent the time with my horses that I use to even now I go out everyday and do something with them the mare has been great I give her energy hugs every day but my gelding seems stand offish he comes to me will follow me but it just feels different then before I was sick is he feeling my illness and how do I work past that my time that I spend with them and activities are limited due to my illness but I want to get back what we had before any advice would be great Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

A: Hello Carole,

Bless your heart, I hope you're doing okay. When your with your horses be in the present moment and do your best to be happy. Horses are a mirror of us and when we're upset our horses feel it and it makes them feel unsecure and unsafe as they look to us for leadership. The more you are in your power the better your relationship will be. When you are with him stand tall and proud, be the leader he needs and talk to him softly when you groom him. The more you leave your worries and troubles behind when you are with them the more secure they will feel.

You can also do free lunging with him in an a small arena or round pen to reestablish your alpha roll. Look up Clinton Anderson's round penning DVD to learn how if you need assistance. And be sure to reward your gelding with love and a treat when he shows affection to you to help reconnect with him in a fun, loving way. You can also sit with him in his stall and read a book, horses love to just hang out with us, that too will help create a spiritual bond with your horses.

Good luck and I hope you feel better soon.

Kind regards,

Carol Whitaker

Q: Hi Carol,

My horse Brick is a rescue and currently lives at a rescue ranch. He has intimidated a few people with his behavior, but I really love working with him and I hope we can overcome some of the difficulties together. One of the biggest problems is that Brick hates the hitching post. He becomes downright fearful when approaching - he will refuse to move, he holds his head high, breathes hard and his eyes look panicked.  This behavior has obviously turned a lot of people off of him, but I think patience and determination will prevail. 

Once we are at the hitching post, he either behaves or he'll intermittently (and for no reason I can see) start pulling back violently.  I try to calm and reassure him that the post is a friendly and safe place to be. We do lots of treats there during grooming and sometimes I even feed him there so he comes to associate the post with positive things.

Do you have any tips or corrections to help me out with this? I love Brick and it makes me so sad that he's so fearful all the time.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Lindsay Sharpe

A: Hello Lindsay,

Great question. Yes, you can help Brick overcome his fear of the hitching post.

There is a tie ring that was created to help horses that pull back, it's called the Blocker Tie Ring. Tie it to the hitching post and then tie Brick to that the tie ring. It was invented to help horses that panic and pull back when tied.  You can learn more about the must have tie rings on their site http://www.blockerranch.com/index.php?cPath=24. The Blocker Tie Ring allows the lead rope to pull through it a bit once a horse begins to pull back which stops the panic fight or flight response to kick in and helps them to relax and then soon their fear of being tied up subsides. Use the Blocker Tie Ring wherever you tie him including in a trailer and on the side of the trailer.

Keep me posted on your success.

Happy Trails!

Carol Whitaker

Q: Hi Carol,

         I enjoy reading the way you show love and bonding with your horses.I have finally got my first horse Lillybella , being in a horable situation previously, she is a very loving girl.I board her close to home and take lessons there.Being my first horse  ,I've been getting some hints and pointers from the staff and lessons Ive taken.I was told not to let Lillybella in my space and push her away, knowing the bad situation she was in prier  ,I believe she loves the bonding and affection she also likes to lean on me. I do not have an issue with her doing it ,and am curious to know your thoughts. Also my ground work lesson was to have Lillylla lunge,well apparently she was confused and had no idea what we wanted her to do , instead she to come over and lean on me. So the trainer smacked her on the hind quarter with her lead rope ,which got her moving . Lilly a couple circles and  stopped and showed the trainer her butt,  which caused her to smack her again.I do not agree with whipping a horse to make her move, its not FUN groundwork for Lillybella and I ,as the trainer said it should be.I will not do lunges with Lilly ever since that day.
                            Your thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated..

                                      Thank you


A: Hello Karine,

I appreciate your kind words. I’m happy to answer your questions and help you better understand how to bond with your horse to have a happier, more trusting relationship.

From how you've described Lilly she sounds like a sweet mare. Her leaning on you is her way of feeling protected by you. Horses are very much like us, they have the same insecurities, emotions and crave love and leadership, just as we do. Horses shouldn't lean on their owners, however, you don't want to push her away harshly as your trainer has, that will only imprint that humans can be mean and unpredictable and you don't want that. It's okay to have her love you and give you hugs when you invite her into your space by calling to her. When she leans on you just gently wiggle the lead rope and say "back", when she steps back reward her with praise and by petting her.

As for free lunging your trainer needs to learn the basis of ground work, it's to earn the love, trust and respect from a horse. Just as child that is learning if you were to spank it when she got confused it would only instill fear rather than trust and respect. Free lunging is essential to establish the love and bond with a horse that comes by establishing the alpha role. When done correctly it brings about love and bonding in such a way that no other training can do. It's a magical time to move a horses feet forwards, backwards, left and right with your body language and then to call her into your space with your body language, at which time you get to let her rest and love all over her and then lead her around without a halter or lead rope.

To help you better understand ground work invest in some DVDs such as Clinton Anderson's round penning video, he explains how to lunge a horse with your body language and energy. Once you establish a solid bond with your horse you will awaken your mares' spirit even more, and she will become even more precious and endearing to you as you create a loving bond that will stand the test of time.  

Have tons of fun with Lilly.

Happy trails!


Q:  Hi Carol,
I truly believe ever thing you wrote about bonding with your horse and would love to have that with my horse.(everyone says that I eat drink and sleep horses and they’re right!) Unfortunately I have not followed it so now I have a dis-respectful horse. I have owned my horse Jasper since he was two he’s now 8.After my ride last night I was told I have out grown this horse and should sell him and get another one. I’m not sure that’s the answer…I have ask a lot of Jasper and now he is not willing to go on to the next level and he gets really disrespectful about it. I know this is not a lot of info but please let me know your thoughts.


A: Hello Bonnie,

I’m glad you found my blog to be insightful. If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment and “Like” our page on Facebook.

Horses are much like us, they have feelings, gifts and talents. Some horse owners do in fact outgrow their horses if their horse doesn’t want to move forward in training levels. To have a happy horse that is a partner and companion comes from respecting their wishes, just as we expect them to respect that which we ask of them. It’s similar to when someone keeps pushing us to do what we don’t want to, soon we become resentful of that person—it’s the same for horses. You must first earn their trust and respect to be able to bond and train them as you desire.

If you work on bonding with your horse as his alpha leader and create a friendship with him he will be more likely to want to try to please you under saddle, which makes for happy training and riding.

Study natural horsemanship for training; do ground work in addition to training under saddle. Also, take the time to just hang out and spend time with Jasper without asking anything of him to create a partnership that will reflect in his willingness to move forward in training.

Horses have feelings and emotions just like we do. The more your nurture Jasper’s feelings and needs the more he will be willing to please you.

I wish you the best with your horse.

Happy trails,

Carol Whitaker

Q: Carol,
    I read your blog on bonding with horses, and thought I would look for further guidance.   
I am seeking advice regarding a yearling horse I have recently acquired. He has never been around humans, apart from when hay is dropped off in the pasture,  and has been running with a herd of about 20 horses since birth. I have been working with him now for three weeks, getting him to come to me for grass, as he didn't want anything to do with me without some sort of food. I have since been able to get him to follow me into a pen, and take feed from a bucket while I'm holding it, but he won't let me touch him at all. He gets separation anxiety if I keep him in the pen any more than a half hour, and he won't pay any attention to me unless I'm feeding him. I would like to have him halter broke by fall, but at this rate I don't see that happening.
Also, I was raised around horses and know a bit about breaking them, but have never broke one before. Do you have any advice on getting my yearling friendly and trusting? I really desire to bond with him. And do you have any advice for breaking him? Any advice on the previously mentioned subjects would be greatly appreciated! Thank you very much, I hope to hear from you soon!

A: Hello Kerry,

When a yearling runs "wild" with a large herd of horses without imprinting at birth by humans, it makes it much more difficult to train and bond with them without professional guidance. I suggest hiring a horse trainer that specializes in breaking horses and raising colts/fillies. Young horses can be dangerous if not trained correctly.

Ask your close horse friends for natural horsemanship trainer recommendations; hire one who is patient, loving and confident around horses. Your young colt needs an alpha leader to feel safe and secure, once you learn how to do so, you will be able to earn his trust and love at a spiritual level.  When you select a trainer ask the trainer if you can be a part of the training so your horse will come to respect you as his alpha leader. Until you establish the leadership role he needs, he will most likely always have a "wild" streak in him, which makes training and bonding difficult.

You can also buy Clinton Anderson videos regarding training colts, I respect his methods and he teaches so it's easy to understand and incorporate. You can buy it on Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Clinton-Anderson-Starting-Championship-Clinicians/dp/B000CQCXXO

I wish you all the best!


Carol Whitaker


  1. Hey your blog is amazing, i recently got offered a horse to work on and he is beautiful, very quiet natured and loves to be around people. I have fallen head over heals for him, so i really really want to get an amazing bond with him, he is an ex trotter so is a bit weary when it comes to people, he doesnt play up or anything, just shy and held back, i tried doing a join up with him, but he just didnt seem to respond, would love some advise!
    thankyou -courts ( courtney.reader8@gmail.com)

    1. Hello Courtney,

      I apologize, I just saw your post. Thank you for your kind words. I will email you some tips on how to bond with your beautiful boy. I hope you're enjoying thoroughly enjoying him.


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  3. Hello-

    I was so happy to come across your blog! I recently purchased a 10 year old Arabian mare who I have been working with on showmanship. This is my first horse and I have never done showmanship before. Previously, I had spent the last 6 months working with this horse on grooming, getting the halter on, working with her hooves, etc. Before then she was not very friendly when it would come to people and it took a while to get her haltered when she was in the pasture. She reached a point where she would come up to me and wait for me to halter her, pick her feet up for me, etc. Now that I am working with her on showmanship, I have learned that being assertive with her has been difficult. She tends to blow me off some days when I am working with her and I become frustrated. I do a lot of bonding time with her, grooming, bathing, letting her graze, loving on her so I am not sure why when we are in the arena she is not consistent with listening to me. I don't always want to feel that I need to be overly assertive each time I work with her but I need her to follow through with what I am asking of her. Any suggestions?

    1. Hello Rachy2013,

      I apologize for my delayed reply, I just saw your message. If you still need assistance email me directly at carol@carolwhitaker(dot)com. :)

  4. A great article indeed and a very detailed, realistic and superb analysis, of this issue, very nice write up, Thanks
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  5. Hi! I am about to meet a couple of horses and i have not seen a horse in a while, and i have not ridden a horse sense i was very little. I am a little scared and worried that i might make the horses scared of me, or disrespectful. i also dont really want to make the horse totally dislike the real owner. Please advise me on what to do.
    your information had been a good confidence booster but i am going to need a little more.

    Also i want to let you know, I met a horse a little while ago (about a year) and she was very shy. After maybe 10 min. with her (not riding or getting in the pasture) she was letting me feed her from my hand. Is that a good sign i am ok around horses? I did notice i spoke to her, does that have any good effect, even if the horse is shy?
    Is it also good to be happy and energetic? I read your post about emitting a loving emotion towards the horse. How can i do that? I am usually very happy, i dont really care what people think about me, but i do care what the horse thinks about me.
    All thanks, Sarah.

  6. Hi Sarah,

    Horses are an excellent judge of character and read our energy like a book. When a horse starts to follow you around or lick your hand for example that is their way of saying "I like you and I trust you" which comes by them reading your energy, so yes it is good to be happy and energetic. When you are you'll find your horse will be more energetic and outgoing too. Horses are a mirror of us.

    To earn the love, trust and respect from your horses comes by being in your power and doing a lot of ground work. People who are harsh on horses to try to gain their respect are only getting horses to be obedient out of fear, just like children do when their elders are disrespectful to them.

    Do a lot of free lunging and natural horsmanship to earn your horses trust and respect as the alpha leader. And don't ride unless you know how to sit a horse correctly with a secure seat and soft hands. Hire someone to teach you if you don't know how.

    Have fun with your horses!

    Happy trails,


  7. Hi Carol! Heeellp!! My 8 yr old QH is suddenly terrified of my husband! As a general rule I'm the only one who handles him, simply because we're a household of 2 people, Dooley is my horse and I love him. My husband never had horses but likes them ok. A few weeks ago I suggested that hubby go for a ride, (I was at work, he had the day off and was bored.) So he did. And everything went just fine. Dooley came to him, they saddled, had a good trail ride, etc. (My point in this detail is that Dooley was "normal".) However, the last few days, if my husband was around the house, the shop, or anywhere within sight, Dooley would freeze and stare. He gets big-eyed and blows his "I'm freakin out, what are you?" snort. And if hubby approaches us, he does whatever he can to stay out of reach. However, if I hand hubby the lead and he talks softly to Dooley and lays his hand on him, Dooley calms down, his eyes soften slightly and he stops snorting. He stays "watchful" tho, all the while he lunges, changes directions, backs up, etc. He follows my husband's directions but out of fear. This is so out of character for my sweet boy, I've had him since he was 2 and he's never acted this way towards anyone. The farrier was here a few weeks ago and while Dooley doesn't exactly yell out a greeting, He still stands nicely. But really 98% of the time I am the only one who ever handles him. I've had him, like I said, for 6 years. He's not a competition horse, I simply love him, ride him whenever I want, play with him, and visit him often in the pasture. He lives in a huge pasture, doesn't get fed because he's such an easy keeper and he's fat just on grass. What I'm trying to say is I feel like he's a happy horse and he's very affectionate. Towards me. What's up with freaking out at my man??

  8. Hello Connie Jo~

    Not to worry, Dooley can become relaxed around your husband once again. There could be a several reasons why Dooley is acting spooked, he could have had a scary experience when he was young which your husband reminds him of. Horses have incredible memories and they're highly emotional and intuitive.

    Have your husband do ground training with Dooley in a small arena or round pen. He needs to establish that he is alpha in their relationship, he can do so by moving your horse's feet forward, backwards, left and right by doing free lunging and ground work by doing Natural Horsemanship exercises. Once Dooley realizes that your husband is alpha and respects him as such he will be relaxed again knowing he'll know that he is safe when you or your husband is with him.

    Horses need leadership just as children do, they need rules, boundaries and a lot of TLC. Have your husband feed him and groom him more as well, this will help create a loving bond between them.

    Also, talk to Dooley and let him know that your husband loves him and that he's safe when your sweetheart is around. As I mentioned before, horses are incredibly intuitive and understand us much more than they often get credit for.

    Keep me posted on their progress. I wish you all the best!

    Happy trails,

    Carol Whitaker

  9. Hello Carol!

    I have just moved my horse from Paris to London 6 months ago, and I now see him everyday (which I couldn't do before hand). I don't like to bore him so I change up his exercises everyday, from jumping (his strong suit), to flat work, lunging, free lunging, dressage and hacking out. He goes in the field twice a week. He is a big muscular horse, but he is very calm, especially when I ride him and I trust him. I feel that we have bonded since I see him everyday, and I take time to brush him, cuddle him, play with him, teach him tricks, although I have strict rules that I do not like to bend. I believe that he has to respect me, and that is how he will love me. To me, sharing a bond with a horse isn't like sharing a bond with a human being: they need calm yet firm owners, who have a few rules but that have to be respected. In my opinion, they need a stable owner.

    However, for a little while, Peter has become very energetic and sometimes, even direspectful. After the Winter Holidays (I left for 3 weeks), he had not gone in the field for a month (they were flooded) and he became excited, running over my feet when I took him to be free schooled, playing with me too hard, even rearing up once for no reason while I took him out to graze. I am at a loss here and I would like to know what I should do. When I ride him, he is so calm and sweet and tolerant and respectful, but when I lead him on the collar, he can sometimes (it is rare) be a bit crazy. By the way, he moves a lot in his box, and often likes to kick the door open to venture freely in the courtyard.

    Do you think he is sad or still at a loss after moving? What can I do to make him respect me more?

    Thank you for your future help,

    Kind regards,


  10. I love your website it is going to help me out so much im very thankful for. Ok so Im 12 years technically im 13 in 3months but im getting my first horse in a few days or weeks and I have no clue what breed I should get because my parents told me absolutely no fresians for my first horse and I want 1 soim now looking 4 a new breed im looking 4 a horse that is kind, gental, willing, lovable and playful I just dont know what kind is like that now for riding I want a horse that is medium speed and good 4 trailridong or even just being led around the field/pasture/yard and I want a horse that is about 15 hh do u know what breed os good/fit 4 me. I was thinking appaloosa, quarter,arabian,paint or something similar 2 those breeds plz answere me asap or when u get thw the chance plz.

  11. Hi Carol,
    First, I have to say I love your blog! Your words and the images exude the most beautiful energy that is actually palpable as I sit her at my computer. I am so looking forward to feeling this with my own horse. I just got my first horse last week. I've been waiting a lifetime to have a horse and now that dream is coming true. I named her Dream With Me. She is a 6yo ISH whom I had ridden a handful of times with my trainer. The first time I met her she put her head against my tummy. She has always been very level headed and I always felt quite comfortable around her, which was important to me for my first horse and a horse that would be my husband's first experience with horses. I am very confident in my ability to communicate with and train dogs; and people come up to me all the time commenting on how calm or well behaved my pack is. But I am not there yet with horses. We are looking for a second horse, but right now Dream is the only horse in our large paddock/pasture (but my husband and I, the dogs, cats and chickens are near the paddock all day). A few days after she arrived, we built her a slow feeder. A couple days later, while she was eating at the slow feeder, I was loving on her--rubbing her shoulder/withers. She wrapped her head around me a couple of times and I thought that was a good sign. But then this time she bit me on the hip. Can you please help me understand this? It's been suggested she was trying to dominate me, being protective of her feed (maybe the slow feeder makes her feel there isn't enough), a result of me feeding treats by hand (though I request manners first), or trying to groom me. The previous owner usually had a hay net of hay in front of her while we were grooming to ride and she never seemed protective of that. Since then, I've started doing join-up, Monty Robert's style, with her and she is following me a little bit. Thank you for any thoughts you may have.

  12. hi im twelve years old and I help out at my local stables. an recently we have gotten a new pony.he was found at the side of the road.he was not happy at all and was very bold and didn't trust anyone. but one day one of the stables owners asked me to sit with him and groom and rub him and talk to him for a little while to try get him used to people .as soon as I saw him I saw the gentleness and kindness inside of him and i ended sitting with him for nearly three hours . and as I was with him he seemed to grow more and more gentle and loving and relaxed around me but not around anyone else.and I immediately fell in love with him felt as if we were meant to be together. so I wanted to buy him but my parents would not allow it. but I still felt the need to form a bond between us and make it stronger but as I said he is in a local riding school so anybody will be able to see him and pet him whenever they want so I thought that there would be know way that I would be able to form a bond with him but when I heard about you I thought that maybe there might be a way that I could form a bond with this lonely and abused pony. please please please help me. from Aisli.

  13. also im not quite sure how to form a bond with a horse thank you .from aisli

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  15. Hello my name is katie and I'm 15 years old I've been wanting a horse for ages and when my mum got me my beautiful little boy called bobby he's about 13h a little cob and is around 2 years old I'm not sure how old because many people do think he is quite young because he is so small last year but I have been struggling to bond with him ever since i got him and I feel like he doesn't like me:( he doesn't listen to a word I say ! I really want to start training him to do the simple things (i know he many be to young to do the complex stuff but I just want to see if he will listen to me ) I wanted to start teaching him how to stand still,walk on when I ask,move away from his stable door when I tell him to back up,allow me to tie him up to wash him and to put his rugs on and off without moving around also let me put his head collar and rugs without having to give him food. I really want to bond with him I love him to bits but I have no clue how to do any of this I have no help and I don't know anyone who can help me and I get so annoyed whit myself and him if he doesn't listen .I'm worried he doesn't like me because he put his ears back when I'm near him please help me it's horrible not feeling like he loves me I mean he dose know when I'm there and walks up to the gate on the field when he sees me but doesn't listen to me at all I hope you get this I really need your help!

  16. Hi, I own a 12 year old QA gelding, I Love him soon much. I have had him for 2 years but i don't think he trust me. When he is on halter and i am standing next to him he will step sideways and sometime back we with me. But never Forward. I lost feel like he doesn't want to be with me. Help?

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  17. Hi, my name is Lily and I own a 9 year old called Queenie. I love her loads but sometimes she doesn't love or like me back as much. I have done things like join. Do you have any other tips to help us become stronger together please. Thank you.

  18. Great article. I read this article properly. This is one of the best posts. Thanks sharing this article
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  20. Hey, Carol!

    my name is Ember. I just got a new horse 2 days ago. i've been trying to form a bond with him, seeing as I will be riding him a lot. i've been going to his stable everyday & talking to him. today, he kept softly nudging me. he nudged my shoulder, arm, & my mouth. is this a sign of affection or a sign that he likes me? i'm trying so hard to get him to like me & to bond with me, but I don't know how. so, how can I create a bond with him? how can I tell if he likes me or if he's showing affection?

  21. Hi, I would love your feedback please! I rescued a Missouri fox trotter filly from a kill pen almost a year ago. She was 10 months old when I got her. She developed strangles 2 days after she was delivered. I dont know how many days I spent in her stall holding a hot compress on her throat hoping and praying while wiping her gooey eyes and snot filled nose. One night while I was holding the compress on her throat she layed the side of her head on the length of my arm and closed her eyes. I bent down and kissed her behind her ear and said its gonna be ok baby, I got u. 2 days later the spot burst and then she healed. Shes been growing like a weed and I love her to death! I kiss her nose when I first see her and bends down and wiggles her top lip on my belly. (I've always wondered why) Now she does this thing where she puts her head on my shoulder, leans her cheek against my head and closes her eyes. So I just kiss her face and hug her neck. Shes also randomly licked the top of my shoulder once (no idea why). I havent started ground training with her yet, actually were way behind schedule because I've been very sick most of this year. But I brush her and then we go for a walk and I tell her stories. Some times she gets ahead of me and then shell stop and turn around and wait for me to catch up. I cant wait for her to grow and age so we can go on riding adventures!