When I talk to people, the issue of bonding keeps coming up. I think though, that bonding is an incorrect concept, I believe trust is a better word for it but, ah well, people can call it what they will.
Sure, it's nice to feed and groom your horse. He likes it and we as people are gratified by doing it. It helps you to get to know your horse better and the two of you can enjoy each other much like horses in the pasture who show affection with one another by grooming. Grooming is an important social skill in the herd. In general though, proper and frequent handling of horses helps them to be better "broke" in the sense of ease and safety (safety being a major issue).
But, I truly believe that there is no replacement for having a working relationship with your horse. No amount of grooming or cooing over a horse will give you that special relationship that working together as a team will. Horses are not big dogs, they do not feel loyalty or gratitiude just because you throw them a flake of hay. Feeding your horse treats by hand only spoils him and can create a nasty biting habit. Many horses who are spoiled through their owner's attempt to bond become resistant, stubborn, belligerant and even angry when asked to do something they don't want to do. Remember, horses are herd animals, not human buddies.
If you're having problems learning to ride your horse and work as a team with him, the solution will not come through spoiling him and just handling him from the ground. No amount of treats and petting will change a thing but your horse will be happy to take advantage of you in the meantime. To really be a team with your horse, you must build trust through riding and working with your horse. And if you aren't experienced enough to get through issues alone, you must find a coach, trainer or other person who is experienced in building teams.
Hopefully you got your horse with the intention of doing something with him and not just looking at him in the pasture so, next time you think about bonding, think about riding and building a trusting team instead. I hope this thought helps! See you next week, JD.