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Need to send these horses home...but how?

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  • Need to send these horses home...but how?

    Some of you may have read my post a while back in Off Course about a horse that was terrified of being mounted.

    To recap: was sent two horses for training. Was warned they could be hard to catch. Turned out that the one at least had never been caught without the use of a chute, and they did pretty much all their handling with this chute...so the horses have very little trust in humans.

    Wise Cother's said send them home. I was stubborn and unwillling to accept defeat. So I got kicked in the head by mr impossible to mount. That was over two weeks ago, and after a very slow recovery, I decided to send all training horses home (although most are just going to board until I am better). Bad weather postponned the owners coming to get these two (they are 5-6 hours away), but they called late last night to say they would be here today.

    The one horse will be ok to catch I think, but the one that did not kick me in the head will likely be uncatchable. I am the ONLY person in this horse's life that has ever been able to halter him without the use of a chute, but in the last 2 weeks I have been unable to do anything with him, so he has completely regressed.

    Fortunately he is in a pen near the parking lot.

    - it is very cold out (-20 celcius),
    - There is a LOT of snow
    - His pen is 120 feet square or so, and a lot of it is sloped...hard for humans to walk in with the deep snow!
    - I am still injured, so some pain to move, and slow reaction times plus blasts of headaches.

    This horse is non-agressive, but very smart, athletic, and does not allow himself to be cornered. He is however very attached to my super mellow and friendly lesson horse that is in his pen with him...and he does enjoy eating.

    My thought is to:
    1) Shovel the snow from in front of his pen so the trailer can get within 30 feet of his pen. It is a big stock trailer.
    2) Drag round pen pannels from their various places and build a catch pen right outside his gate; thinking 30 feet by 20 feet? Put hay in it to lure both horses (my quiet horse and mr uncatchable) in the pen, and then close the gate behind them so they can't get back in big pen. They won't have shelter, but I am thinking they should be ok for a couple hours.
    3) Take another pannel or two to create a little run from the pen to the parking lot that the trailer can back into.
    4) Use food and my horse to convince mr uncatchable to get in the trailer...then take my horse out and just tie him to the side of the trailer so that mr catchable isn't worried until we can get mr. kicked me in the head caught and in the trailer.

    Does this sound intelligent? (I have found I am asking this a lot since I was kicked in the head...at least I know enough to know I may be crazy...)
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

  • #2
    Can you use panels to shrink his pen? Down to maybe 10 x 12? Then get halter on him in there? Does he lead once haltered? Would he lead and follow your mellow fellow to the trailer without a chute/alley?
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
    Northern NV


    • #3
      Kudo's to you for saying "enough". I have a hard time admitting defeat so I understand how hard it is.

      I like the idea of creating the "chute" to get him on the trailer expecially if he knows this and is familiar/ok with it. ...now if he "knows" the chute and HATES it, I'd go with what cch says and shrink the pen until you can halter him and lead him with a buddy.
      Proudly owned by 7 horses, 6 dogs, 3 cats and 1 Turkey


      • Original Poster

        I thought about that, but I am not sure I could get the halter on him even in a tiny pen, and really not sure I could convince him to go in the tiny pen. He does not like being trapped, and I cannot move/think quickly yet.

        In the past when I have been able to caught him it involved me doing things he found curious, so eventually he came over to see me and I could get him to eat pellets from a pail, then work a rope over his neck and so on. But this took a long time and no mittens...too cold for no mittens today!

        he is good to lead and tie once caught. He is actually a nice horse to work with once you get past his trust issues...but when he gets afraid he will literally shake and pour sweat. I want to avoid getting to that point.
        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


        • #5
          I am sorry about your injury. I am glad that you are recovering!

          When I was young and didn't know much, I got a green mare and she got into some bad habits. She was dominant, pushy and disrespectful and soon figured out that she could turn her rump to me, lay her ears back, and I would back off. She never kicked me, thank goodness, but she sure threatened. It got to the point where I couldn't catch her. I finally got her to go in a smaller pen for food, then my brother and I took a panel and cornered her very slowly. She hid behind another horse so I couldn't get to her, which was OK. I took a lasso, because it is a very stiff rope which holds a circle shape, and I just leaned over the other horse and put the lasso around the mare's neck. I did this very slowly, and I didn't have to throw it. I also had the panel and the well behaving horse between me and the nasty one. It worked great. I think having the other well behaved horse cornered as well kept my mare calm, and the whole thing went very easily.

          Alternatively, will this horse allow someone to get near it if they are riding another horse? Could someone ride up next to the horse and just gently lasso it? That would save you the work with all the panels. Good luck!


          • #6
            Using the panels to make a chute sounds like a good, safe plan. Can you park the trailer in the paddock the day before and put some hay/food inside?
            You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!


            • #7
              [QUOTE=CHT;5347201]I thought about that, but I am not sure I could get the halter on him even in a tiny pen, and really not sure I could convince him to go in the tiny pen. He does not like being trapped, and I cannot move/think quickly yet.

              By "shrink" the pen I meant to use panels to gradually cut off access to the entire pen for him....keeping him in the area that is growing smaller and smaller. I have a mare that came to me with serious catching issues...her previous folks had roped her and choked her unconcious...she's not sure people are good for anything (except she does like her food fairy!). I get her in a larger pen and then begin moving more panels in...tied to the fence of the one she's in and gradually moving them about so that she ends up in a long narrow area along one of the original sides (hopefully a short side..hate moving panels). I can then just take a single panel and just angle it across the narrow area and have her in a narrow "chute"...a second panel moved across behind her makes it into a short narrow chute...at which point she is managable (fortunately she doesn't mind this and she does let herself be caught once in a small area.

              Sure hope the owners are planning on helping with this as it is their horse that hurt you and made it painful to do all this.
              Colored Cowhorse Ranch
              Northern NV


              • Original Poster

                Trailer is about 40 minutes away!

                Can't get trailer into the paddock. The paddock is normally just a grazing/summer paddock and has a considerable slope not far in from the gate....not to mention there is a LOT of snow in front of, and in the pen!

                My assistant is stuck in a snow drift, so although the idea of riding up beside him to catch him intruigued me, I am not fit/able to ride yet.

                I shoveled out the area in front of the paddock, and in 15 minutes will see if a bucket of pellets will allow me to catch him...if not, I will be moving round pen pannels...fortunately horse owner understands my predicament and will help get it figured out when they get here.

                Wish me luck!
                Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                • #9
                  First, you need to be very, very careful. Another blow to your head could be disastrous. That being said, I like the idea of a catch pen, with a chute. If the owners are picking them up, I'd say it's their responsibility to load them on the truck, not yours. They created the monsters, let them deal with it.


                  • Original Poster

                    Colored cow horse, shrinking the pen with this much snow would be a LOT of work, particularly is the paddock is sloped for the most part. Plus I worry he would start to panic and sweat...he gets really sweaty even if we just stand in his paddock looking at him.

                    Maybe he will see I am injured and no threat....

                    I plan to wear a helmet, particularly when I go catch the horse that kicked me. I do not care if I look stupid.
                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                    • #11
                      I would let the owners worry about it.

                      Tamara in TN
                      Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                      I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                      • #12
                        Yes, wear the helmet! Wish you had more time. Hope you have SEVERAL helpers. I have worked with people making a chute out of the orange plastic snow fence (not the wood/wire kind). We did this to move some unbroke/unhandled and scared horses. The snow fence is like fabric and we stationed people holding it every 10 feet or so.


                        • #13
                          If you're not in good shape mentally from the concussion, I would think you should be doing no manual work. Even with a helmet, if you should fall or get knocked in the head, you are risking permanent damage.

                          Let the owners do it. Not your problem. Tell them it's against doctor's orders for you to be handling untrained horses (and it probably should have been)


                          • #14
                            We had a xPMU mare at our farm for rehoming and the
                            new owner could not get her to load. The local vet was called and stood quietly at the mare walked around the paddock. When mare passed her closely, she quickly injected the mare with a tranq. Mare was then loaded and the owner waited with mare in trailer for tranq to wear off before driving away.
                            Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                            Elmwood, Wisconsin


                            • #15
                              Do you have a good cow vet around? They sometimes have tranq guns and know how to deal with wilder animals. I'd se if you can get some vet help, owner pays the bill, of course.


                              • #16
                                Didn't have a chance to read the responses but I had to get some horses on a trailer one that had never been handled. They were in a large pasture and we closed in on them using snow fencing to funnel them into the trailer. It worked like a charm.

                                Good luck and I hope you recover quickly.


                                • #17
                                  2 options that come to mind for me are:

                                  1. vet with tranq gun (sounds like no way they could get close enough to do it by hand), wait until sleepy, load and go

                                  2. once in that small area (even if its a 20 meter circle round pen) back the trailer up to it, open a gate, tie the end of a lunge line or rope to the end of the trailer, somebody from outside walk around the pen holding the other end of the rope, so essentially that person ends up on the opposite side of the trailer from where the rope is tied, but the rope if behind the horse, then just apply pressure (this is our go to trick for bad loaders as they don't typically like butt ropes). Make sure to wear good gloves, and whoever does it has a bit of "feel" so they know when to push (or rather pull) a bit, and when to soften. Also would probably help if your little buddy got caught from that small pen once in there and then tied to the outside of the trailer where freako can see him and hopefully want to go to him.


                                  • #18
                                    Oh no! You've had a terrible go...I hope the owners put them on the trailer and you don't have to worry about it!

                                    I think corral panels are the way to go. When Warrior didn't want to be caught, we just made the choice veeery easy.

                                    1. Only gave about 1/4 size evening feed the night before.
                                    2. Put yummy hay in the trailer and backed it up to the paddock gate
                                    3. Caught hungry Zora and walked her painlessly onto the trailer while ignoring W.
                                    4. Started to gently "herd" Warrior to the trailer/food/friend (two people, no halters or ropes)
                                    5. When he made the bolty face, we relaxed but didn't leave him an opening. He kept smelling the food and listening to Zo chew. No one had tried to catch him yet though, so he wasn't all that stressed.
                                    6. Let him step into trailer and then step back out. He wasn't being trapped into the TRAILER, he just wasn't being given a big space to run around the field.
                                    7. Finally he stepped on quietly.

                                    I think it worked because this was a new thing, a problem for him to figure out. At no point did I attempt to catch him, so he was automatically less suspicious. Also motivated by hungriness. If we'd had panels, I think he would have figured the game out faster, we had to use body language to direct him.

                                    Not a long term solution, obviously, but it got him quietly trailered so we could get him to the vet!
                                    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                                    • #19
                                      ^^ excellent technique!


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Well they are gone!

                                        My neighbour came over to help me move the round pen pannels, and he thought a 10 by 20 foot catch pen would be enough, so that is all we built. He openned the gate, and the horses walked right in to the pen before I even had the hay out. So I left them there with the hay. They took longer to get here than I thought as they realized they forgot their halters.

                                        So the man decided to try to go in the pen to catch him...but ended up loosing his balance and falling on the pannel, which of course scared the horse who hid behind my horse who was busy eating...then the wife decided to go in the little pen too...and I was frightened for both of them....thankfully they realized they were not in a safe spot and decided to stick to my plan and backed their trailer up to the pen. They openned the gate, stood out of the way...and in he went! Easy as that. Didn't even have to put food or my guy in the trailer.

                                        I will actually kind of miss him and wish he had come in the summer as I am sure he is going to be a very nice jumper.

                                        Mr. Kicked me in the head also loaded well...so they are gone and a major stress lifted.

                                        Hopefully I learn from this and listen to future COTH advice about giving up/staying safe!
                                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!