PDA

View Full Version : The hard to catch horse



eventingVOL
Feb. 28, 2010, 08:50 PM
Hello all!
So today I went to the barn. Walked out to the pasture to get my horse and spent the next 40min trying to catch the snarky little turkey while he cantered circles around me. Now this is a relatively recent development. He used to at least stand still when I went to catch him, if not walk up to me. I usually bring a peppermint or two with me when I go out to get him. Today I had to resort to a bucket of feed. This is really getting annoying and time consuming, and as a college student with limited time anyways, I don't have 20min to spend attempting to catch my brat. Any tips/suggestions for an attitude adjustment?

retreadeventer
Feb. 28, 2010, 10:12 PM
He wouldn't come to the bucket of feed, or it took 40 minutes before you went and got the bucket of feed? Not sure which it is...did he come as soon as you brought the treat?

CBudFrggy
Feb. 28, 2010, 10:27 PM
Next time, when chase him away. Keep chasing him away until he comes to you.

lizajane09
Feb. 28, 2010, 10:32 PM
Is there any chance he has any pain when ridden and is unwilling to come to you because he doesn't want to work?

Assuming that's not the case and he just wants to be obnoxious, I agree with CBF about chasing him away. Also, go pay attention to the other horses in the field (if he's turned out with others) until he gets curious about what you're doing with them.

eventingVOL
Feb. 28, 2010, 10:44 PM
He wouldn't come to the bucket of feed, or it took 40 minutes before you went and got the bucket of feed? Not sure which it is...did he come as soon as you brought the treat?

I brought peppermints out with me which usually does the trick. He hears the crinkle of the the plastic wrapper and comes or at least stands still. Today, however, I tried catching him for about 25min, then gave up and got some feed. After that it still took about 10min to catch him.

I have heard about chasing them off and will try that. It's a pretty big field though so I'm not sure how well that will work?

eventingVOL
Feb. 28, 2010, 10:48 PM
Is there any chance he has any pain when ridden and is unwilling to come to you because he doesn't want to work?

I don't have any reason to think he's in any sort of pain while being worked. He's been going really, really well and gives no resistance to anything under saddle or while doing anything once caught.

eponacowgirl
Mar. 1, 2010, 02:44 AM
Didn't you just move him? Or fairly recently, anyway? Give him some time to settle, but in the mean time, bring a bucket. He'll get back into the swing of things. :)

webmistress32
Mar. 1, 2010, 02:50 AM
my boy really just likes to play hard to get. so fine, go run then! when he starts to move off when I come into the pasture I make him run away and I don't let him come back by his friends.

after about 5 minutes of running and being kept away, he's like "hey I like you! can I come by you now?"

works like a charm. if I keep chasing him we can go for hours. this method is a quick fix.

Thomas_1
Mar. 1, 2010, 04:16 AM
You might find this helpful:

http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?p=4311627&highlight=difficult+to+catch#post4311627

QHquest
Mar. 1, 2010, 06:57 AM
Agree with chasing the horse away when they will not come to you. We had a very hard to catch and witty little paint who was starting influence my easy to catch, come right up horse and had tried chasing on foot which is hard to keep the horse moving at all times. That is key in making them know that either way they are still going to work. My then boyfriend decided to hop on a dirtbike and chased the horses for a good hour, never letting them get down to less than a trot. Caught both and rode as we normally would. NEVER again did either one play hard to catch.

Creaghgal
Mar. 1, 2010, 07:23 AM
My little poopiekins thinks its playtime when he sees the halter coming. I haven’t ridden in two months and still when I go to drag him in to groom he takes off! I lock his companion up and only approach poopiekins when he is standing. Whenever he takes a step, I stop. I won’t chase him, because in this case it’s purely a game for him. He gets the message after a short while and off we go.

ETA He only plays hard to get when it's cold out. In the summer he can't be bothered to run like a loon :D

deltawave
Mar. 1, 2010, 08:01 AM
I'm not a believer in chasing, bribing, or hiding the halter, although (other than the latter, horses are dumb but not THAT dumb) they certainly can work.

My philosophy is to simply be more determined than the horse, who in all reality is just playing a game with us. I just walk after them, for as long as it takes, trying to be philosophical and Zen-like about it (while muttering expletives under my breath).

The longest I've ever had to do this to wear a horse's will down was about 30 minutes, and this was in a fairly large paddock (about 5 acres)--he just got so almighty tired of the game that he stood there and let me halter him.

Keebler briefly decided this winter that "you can't catch me" was kind of fun, and the situation was not helped by the fact that his favorite frat boy, hooligan buddy was also in on the game. :rolleyes: Patience and perseverance still won the day, and now he comes to me. :)

Catalina
Mar. 1, 2010, 08:55 AM
I agree with the others that said if he won't let you catch him, chase him. They learn real quick that it isn't any fun to pay hard to get.


and the situation was not helped by the fact that his favorite frat boy, hooligan buddy was also in on the game.

:lol: I have had that happen before, except for I had three join in and decide to help Mr I Don't Want To Be Caught be herding him away from me. Yeah, it's great fun having 4 $%#^ horses thundering around the field; I was ready to massacre every one of them :winkgrin:.

deltawave
Mar. 1, 2010, 08:59 AM
The hooligan gelding I referred to USED to be the horse I'd go to and pet to make Keebler jealous. :D (that sometimes works, too, even though I don't bring treats with me) But one fine day when they both were feeling particularly rowdy the SOB *bit me* and then spun around and aimed a double-barreled kick at me from a couple of strides away. He didn't want to get me, was just being a doofus. :mad: Keebler was horrified. :lol:

retreadeventer
Mar. 1, 2010, 08:59 AM
I use a "sit down" method. I take the time to sit down and get lower than the horse's view. They have to put their heads down to see what I am doing and end up with curiosity getting the best of them, and they come over to see what I am doing. In this time of year I'd bring a bucket to sit on and a book...but I would also re-read that great thread posted about catching, too
I understand your concern about time.
My kids know I have a real thing about time. Life is urgent. You sure don't have 40 minutes to spend catching a horse every day. Your horse has 23 out of 24 hours to do exactly what he wants to do. The one hour you carve out of your day to pay attention to him, he needs to provide you with some consideration. I insist on a little cooperation for that precious amount of time I get to work with my horses each day. The new ones quickly learn that and the old ones are in a good habit of paying attention and appreciating the care. From the moment the lead rope gets snapped on the halter, they need to listen to ME. I am boss mare. So I rarely have catching difficulty, because field bosses are always respected in the herd mentality. I use staring directly in the eyes, and turn my back on them and walk away a lot to enforce that. Just little body language things. I try and act like a "boss mare", evil as that sounds, but it works. I never have to spank or attack to get behavior modified by only using a little body language, it's efficient, very safe, and completely within the mental hardwiring of any horse. Of course they aren't perfectly behaved but doggone it we try.
(I learned a lot of this from studying the Monty Roberts and Linda Tellington-Jones stuff, if that helps.)

deltawave
Mar. 1, 2010, 09:01 AM
Boss mares get what they want using ZERO violence, only evil facial expressions and the force of their will. We could all take a lesson from them. :D

Sillymoose
Mar. 1, 2010, 09:05 AM
I agree with Deltawave. I've always heard that you can't out run a horse but you can out walk them any day. The few times one of our horses has been hard to catch we just keep following them with the halter out waiting for them to stop. This keeps them going fast enough that they can't graze and eventually they get annoyed enough and stop. I prefer not to send them running because if the pasture is to large it's impossible to keep up with them. Plus then they think it's this great game and stop paying attention to me at all.

So I just walk and pretty soon they get tired of of it and will stop, and I just walk up to them like normal and put the halter on and give them their treat. Now they all come running when we whistle and I don't have to go trudging out in the mud to catch them :).

saje
Mar. 1, 2010, 09:10 AM
My old mare can be hard to catch sometimes, and I subscribe to Deltawaves method. I just keep walking after her, and after a couple of mad dash laps by her around the field she'll stop and just stand.

Her son started this, and for a couple of weeks I'd stick a carrot in my back pocket and go out to catch him. He'd run, I'd walk, eventually he'd stop and I'd put a halter on him, scrub his itchy spots a minute, feed him the carrot, take the halter off and leave. The first time or two I did that the look on his face was priceless! I spent two or three days just doing catch and release, then I alternated between catch n' ride and catch n' release. It didn't take very long for him to figure out it was worth seeing what I was up to.

Now he doesn't always walk towards me, but he will stand and offer his head to be haltered :)

retreadeventer
Mar. 1, 2010, 09:11 AM
Delta, I had a fantastic Mustang mare a couple of years ago to work for her owner, who happens to rescue Mustangs. She was an incredible horse. She was captured in the fall of 2000 in Wyoming, and came to me as a 4yo. She was broken in the prison training program there but that was all, they are taught to stand tied and wear a saddle and have their feet handled. She learned dressage at an exponential rate, and IMMEDIATELY set everyone in the pasture straight, the instant I released the lead rope at the gate. Every horse she was ever turned out with GOT IT within seconds. I learned a huge amount watching and riding her. (She was featured in USDF magazine, and her owner now rides her in competitive trail rides.) She was a great teacher of the "boss mare" technique.
(Here she is: http://retreadeventer.blogspot.com/2010/03/great-tessie.html)

Blugal
Mar. 1, 2010, 09:41 AM
I'll second the "is riding unpleasant" comment.

My neighbour asked me to help her this summer when her horse became hard to catch. He had a big field, a buddy, and he was wily enough to snatch a treat out of your hand then take off running away.

I helped her with the walk/run-down method twice, and she had to do it on her own a couple times, then he realized the gig was up.

However, at the beginning of the summer I had told her that her saddle didn't fit quite right and she should investigate. She did, but he was a very difficult fit (broad shoulders & no withers). He was being conditioned for a competitive trail ride, so was being ridden for 2-4 hours per day. I think he became difficult to catch because he was uncomfortable when being ridden in that saddle. (Not to mention he was a lazy horse, and had figured out that going riding meant a LONG ride.)

Sure enough, when his winter coat started coming in, he had white patches growing in behind his shoulders. Neighbour was horrified and changed from "trying different saddles at every opportunity" to "not riding until we have one that fits him."

KBG Eventer
Mar. 1, 2010, 09:43 AM
My philosophy is to simply be more determined than the horse, who in all reality is just playing a game with us. I just walk after them, for as long as it takes, trying to be philosophical and Zen-like about it (while muttering expletives under my breath).

The longest I've ever had to do this to wear a horse's will down was about 30 minutes, and this was in a fairly large paddock (about 5 acres)--he just got so almighty tired of the game that he stood there and let me halter him.



This. It might take longer the first couple of times, but it usually works well.

I laughed thinking about a pony I leased that would decide some days that he was not going to be caught, and there was really nothing anyone could do about it. I don't know why we didn't just put him in a small paddock! I guess it's because it came and went in spurts. Some days he would trot up to the gate, others no one could get near him.

I remember one particular day they had let a group of horses out to roam the entire property, and he chose that day to act partly feral or something :lol:. He would not let ANYONE get closer than several yards away. He galloped and galloped and galloped. Not even dinner time and feed buckets could get us close to him. He ended up staying out completely alone all night and didn't get his dinner. I heard he was caught much easier the next morning.

oldpony66
Mar. 1, 2010, 04:34 PM
I agree with DeltaWave to a point. I always had used the "walk them down" method until I had a small pony in a 22 acre pasture. That darn pony could run several hundred yards and get plenty of rest (and grass) so that by the time I got anywhere near her, she was ready to go off again.
My longest "walk down" was two hours. Yes, two hours.
In a smaller area, it works, but only if you can keep them moving so they get tired.
If I find that any of our horses are starting to get ornery about being caught, I now subscribe to sheer trickery. By that I mean whenever I have a chance, I go out and catch them for no reason at all. Often, bringing a treat or at least take a moment to scratch a few withers. If they run away, the other horses get the treats and the rubs, and they get nothing but I just ignore them. After a couple times (this might mean a couple days!) the runner starts realizing that not only are they running away for nothing, but they're missing out on something good! Also, I often bring a halter and leadrope and go ahead and halter someone while I'm out there, just for the heck of it. So far this has worked well in the bigger pastures for me.

Nomini
Mar. 2, 2010, 09:34 PM
My pony is the QUEEN of this game. When I was in college I had her at a boarding farm, and she went out in a large, several acre field with about 6 other mares. I worked off board, and the other girls knew if I didn't make it out before turnout in the summer to leave her halter on! She was the master. You could walk up to her and touch her, but as soon as you made a move for the halter she would bolt. 20 minutes was a short time to catch her. An hour was regular. Grain, treats, chasing, out-walking, nothing mattered. I thought of a new trick, she learned it in two catches. The best trick I figured out was to bring a pocketful of treats and give one to every other horse in the field and ignore her until her greedy self came over. She hates sharing attention. I also used to put the halter nose in the grain bucket and pull it on when she stuck her face in. Also, don't give treats until they are contained, she learned to grab it and run!

NEVER give up. If you walk away one time and leave them so they get what they want, you will never break the cycle. It might almost drive you crazy but you have to keep after them until they relent. Of course, I have an extreme case alpha, completely independent mare, so I have had to go to extreme measures.

These didn't always work. I sometimes got texts that said she spent the night in the field alone because she wouldn't let anyone catch her (it wasn't always about rides). Now that I have her in my own yard, I can can schedule rides around easy to catch times, AKA hey it might be dinner time! I can also bring everyone else in and give them hay until she decides the barn isn't so bad. I also have the option to herd her into the paddock and corner her.

Good luck!