An array of activities, besides riding, exist for you and your horse. Most horses enjoy human companionship and attention. If you do not have a whole lot of time before and after your riding, but you would like more bonding time with your horse, try to come to the stable a little early, even a few minutes can help. Spend those few minutes with your horse, taking your time brushing him, talking to him, and rubbing some of his favorite “sweet spots”; he will thank you for it with a good ride because he is relaxed and happy.
If you live with your horse and just enjoy spending time with him and want to bond to him, you can groom him; horses love to be groomed, it is like an all over body massage, and, it tones his muscles. You can also give him a massage, you do not have to be an expert by any means to do this, just find an area that he loves to have rubbed and scratched and rub and scratch it; you will find yourself with a very relaxed, happy, horse that really enjoys having you come to the stable because he knows it means positive things. Aside from grooming and massages, braiding your horse’s mane and tail can be very relaxing, but do not just jump right to it, some horses do not appreciate having their manes and tails pulled at even for braiding; others find it relaxing, like a scalp massage. Another way to spend time with your horse is to play games with him. Take a couple treats out to the pasture with you and make him chase you for them, or make him jump over a small jump to get a reward. You can even turn it into a training session, if you have a horse that dislikes water, put on a pair of waterproof boots and stand in the water of a stream or creek and offer a treat for each step the horse takes into the water; or if he hates being tied, work with him on standing quietly tied to a post or in cross ties, giving him a treat each time he stands still.
Working with your horse can be a lot of fun, but do not let him pick up bad habits such as nipping, biting, or pushing to get treats. A pushy horse is a dangerous horse because he thinks that he is the boss. Horses are large animals and can do a lot of damage. Make him be respectful of your personal space, and you will be happy and so will your horse.