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I've got the "HARD CATCHER" problem, and it's bad....

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  • #21
    I'm not sure what everyone else does, but my horses have a solid foundation in WHOA. If I go out and they walk off, it just takes a whoa and they stop. They don't necessarily have to come to me (tho one does at a dead run, the other saunters over) but they do have to stop when I say stop. For me it started on the lunge line and then over time as they moved into bigger turnouts. If they don't stop on whoa, they keep moving. Not at a run all the time, but I keep their feet moving and then stop when and only when I ask them to stop. Took my now 5 1/2 year old over 2 hours to catch the first time in a small paddock. A week later he moved to an acre pasture and it took an hour. Haven't had a problem with him since. Might need a little reinforcement from time to time, but that's about it.


    • #22
      There is probably a thelwell cartoon of a snotty horse refusing to be caught...with the ponies in hysterics about training their humans!

      All are great methods- I think it depends on your horse, but my go-to is leave a halter (leather or with a breakaway strap) on and a short piece of baling twine tied to it, maybe 8", hanging down under their chin to snatch up quickly.
      Then when I approach, after I've tried the avert your eyes business, walking past them to a different horse, etc and those didn't work, then I send them away from me. I would put up the other horse if he's gonna make it painful to catch yours. If he's herd-bound, he may freak but whatever, he's not gonna die- he'll get to see his friend once he's caught.
      Once you send him away enough, he will stop and as others mentioned, it may take a long time. Generally, the bigger the field, the longer it takes to catch and the more mad you get (at least me). I've actually missed a lesson or two because i couldn't catch my damn horse (to be fair- a consignment horse, not mine).
      And the wise, Jack Daniels drinking, slow-truck-driving, veteran TB handler who took "no shit from no hoss Miss L, y'hear," said: "She aint wrapped too tight."


      • #23
        my son's mare drives him nuts that he can't catch here - especially since my horse comes when called right up to the gate. We have to bring almost all of them in to get his horse - sometimes I can catch her out in the field if I put a halter on her earlier. Otherwise, we bring my horse into the barn through the barnyard, then she follows him into the barn.


        • #24
          I clicker trained my hard-to-catch girl to touch a target. Yes, it does take time and commitment, but if training was easy, no one would have problem animals.

          For my target, I cut about 6 inches off of a pool noodle and stuck it on the end of an old whip.

          I started in the stall with really tasty treats. Showed her the target and clicked/treated her for checking it out. Several more tries and she was getting treated for touching it. Once she had that game down pat, we moved it to a small paddock. It was only a matter of time before she was coming across the paddock to get a treat. Mind you, I never actually caught her during this game... She wore a halter and I put one hand on the halter while the other hand dispensed treats, then I let her go again.

          We eventually moved the game into a small riding arena with her coming across the ring to touch the target and get a treat. There were nights where she earned her dinner playing this game. By the end of a month, all I had to do was walk the target out to the pasture and she'd come flying across the field to touch the target. Sometimes I'd just give her a treat and let her go again, other times she came in to work. The thing that never changed was that she got a tasty treat 100% of the time she touched that target.
          The rebel in the grey shirt


          • #25
            A lot of the solutions I see given are examples of what I would call the horse training the owner rather than the owner training the horse.

            I have a very, very difficult mare who my trainers says he rarely sees this degree of difficulty.....she would turn her bum towards you, kick out at you if you approached .......bear her teeth, pin her ears you name she did it.....in her stall, in her paddock and yes even in the round pen......with the help of a trainer......I learned to be the alpha mare starting in the round pen, I determined if she moved, how fast she moved, when she stopped, when she turned, how she turned, how she stood....from here we taught her the cue of turning and facing and standing well approached .........once she accepted the terms of our relationship her attitude changed and I can walk up to her any where in the pasture at any time and put a halter on her and bring her in.



            • #26
              Put the stallion inside - never worth you getting hurt over.
              Annother suggestion. I had a hard to catch one yrs. ago - used to leave her out with halter with cotton lead rope attached so I would have something to grab when she took the treat. You can use one of those cheapo leather halters that will break if horse happened to get it snagged on something in the pasture. Since that horse I have made a habit of always having a little bit of grain in the bucket in their stall before I bring them in, so they are in the habit of getting a treat every time they come in. Never used clicker training, but have heard it can be useful for this very thing - sure worth a try. Also - could you build some kind of little stall sized pen in the pasture, that you could hang a bucket in, open the gate, put some ymuuies in the bucket, let the horse go in the pen, close the gate and viola, your horse is captured?


              • #27
                Had one like this but he was abused and terrified of a halter in the pasture for some reason. No flames please but I would go out with treats when i got close I'd pull out the lead rope and just wrap it over his neck. Not hook it just wrap once so if he took off and I needed to I could hold the buckle end and the rope would slip off. This worked well for him. Now after years I can go out with a halter and of course treats in hand and put it right on him. Also try bringing him in more often to just treat him in the barn. Love on him and don't ride. Sometimes they anticipate the ride if that's the majority of the time bringing him in. My guy also loved to ride. You could just tell but the more I caught him and brought him in for just treats the better he got.
                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                • #28
                  Dalemma is spot on. I teach mine to catch in the round pen or small area also first. Once you get them to turn and face no matter where you go, you can catch even the hardest horse. Clinton A. shows a good way to teach this.


                  • #29
                    I would leave a breakaway halter with a grab strap on him, and make sure he's by himself in the pasture! No treats.


                    • #30
                      My gelding is just now getting over this. Most of what I've done has already been mentioned, but here's what I did, in chronological order:

                      - I never let him win, even if it took hours (chose my days very carefully).
                      - I changed up my routine and didn't just catch him for riding. Sometimes caught him and then immediately re-released him, or took him in the barn, gave him a treat, then put him back out.
                      - The thing that really cured him: I put him in a small, boring drylot by himself all summer in which his only contact was people. Depending on people for his only food and entertainment was exactly what he needed.
                      - I turned him out again in the big pasture with a grazing muzzle, which took all the joie de vivre out of his life, and he didn't mind being caught.

                      I still have to approach him slowly or he will spin and wheel and play the game like your guy does, but I can reliably catch him 99% of the time now whether he's wearing the muzzle or naked - it was 0% this time last year.
                      www.cobjockey.com - Eventing the Welsh Cob


                      • #31
                        I do alot of horse rescue and foster. There are ALOT of horses that I have dealt with that have been hard to catch. The ONLY thing that has worked consistently for each and every horse whether its an abuse case or a completely unhandled horse or just a horse without a home that I have had the pleasure of working with this problem on is that you have to change the game. I have tried the treat method and while is may work alright for some in time they will resort back to their old issues and you will be back to square one again or looking for a better treat constantly. Here is what I have done.....

                        1) The first thing is to make sure you are approaching in a manner that isnt driving the horse off. Make sure you arent making eye contact and that your body language isnt aggressive or ummm...whats the right word....bold? Sometimes that in and of itself works and you may not even know you are doing it. I always approach my horses by looking at the ground next to them or a tree thats just passed them or something but dont be sneaky either.

                        2) Next thing that I do is if the horse leaves I drive the horse off and make it my idea for him/her to leave. (This may sound counter productive to what you think might be causing your horses issue but I had a dog causing my problems with a particular horse as well plus that horse was abused and beaten and this method still worked.) Send the horse off a few strides and then cut to the side of the horse and turn your shoulder to the horse and invite him/her back to be with you. Repeat until the horse takes your invitation and then just walk away!

                        3) After you have completed and gotten successful results with the step above the next step is to run the halter and line on the horse. Scratch and rub on the horse and then walk away. You need to do this more and more and get the horse willingly accepting it without leaving. IF the horse leaves at this point you just go back to the step above and start over. And if the horse follows you acknowledge them! Take a few steps backwards and reward them with more scratches. Once you get the horse accepting the halter and line being rubbed without issue (now this normally isnt an issue for most but for some it can be a problem) then proceed to haltering the horse, take a few steps and stop and take it off. Feel free to repeat this a few times cause it wont hurt anything.

                        4) Once you have completed the step above start catching the horse to eat....if he/she doesnt want to get caught then dont feed. Try again in 10-15 minutes and I only give the horse 3 shots and if they dont get their feed then its not my fault. This part is critical because they start associating more than just work with being caught and they start getting eager to be caught because they are getting fed sometimes. I have been known to break a difficult horses meal up into several small meals to get this thought in there head as well. Now I will also begin pulling the horse out and following the routine like I was gonna ride but only groom and then turn the horse back out again. At this point working the horse is also a good thing to mix in.

                        I have used this method on abused/beaten horses, young horses, older horses, malnourished horses....you name it and I get the exact same results every single time....they start meeting you at the gate!! Best of luck!!!
                        LILY-13yr APHA/PtHA mare**LUKE-11yr Rescue Haflinger gelding (being leased out)**ANNIE-7yr AQHA mare


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                          Change the game.

                          I had an OTTB who was "unwilling to give up his freedom", shall we say. And the only thing that worked was to not play HIS game (the "I Refuse to be Caught" game) but to make him play MY game (the "You Get To Guess What My Plans Are Today" game). My method is somewhat similar to The Crone's, but here's what worked.

                          I took a week off from work in the middle of the summer. Every day around 11 a.m., I trundled out to that pasture with a lawn chair and a cooler w/ lots of drinks (for me) and lots of carrots (for horse). AND a good book - you'll need it.

                          I then proceeded to COMPLETELY IGNORE Horsie while he cavorted around going "Neener neener you can't catch me" and proceeded to park in my chair and read my book. (This is where they start to wonder why you're not Playing Their Game.)

                          Eventually, since TBs are innately curious, he started keeping an eye on me from a "Neener Neener you STILL can't catch me!" distance. At which point I took a carrot out of the cooler and simply held it where he could see it, all the while not making eye contact and still reading my book. (This is where they start to think "Hm. She doesn't SEEM like she wants to Play My Game - so what game IS she playing?"

                          Gradually over a period of *hours* Horsie crept closer. I continued to read, though I might occasionally speak quietly: "Here, you can have the carrot if you want it, but this book is really GOOD and I'm not fixin' to Play Your Game. You do have to come get it though."

                          Eventually Horsie crept up, grabbed the carrot and left Dodge immediately at warp speed. I carried on reading my book...

                          So then Horsie thought "Hm, well, THAT time she definitely wasn't Playing My Game - but is she LYING about it? Let's TEST that." So he slowly crept back. Got another carrot. Left Dodge at warp speed again. When he started creeping around again, I CHANGED THE GAME: I packed up my stuff and LEFT.

                          Day Two: largely the same, only hopefully Horsie is coming around to get the carrot a little more quickly. After the first round, which reinforces yesterday's, the NEW game is "Horsie Lets Me Touch Him THEN He Gets Carrot." Not on the head/neck, just whatever body part happens to get in range. (This is where being seated comes in useful.) Horsie will probably leave Dodge at warp speed again. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Once Horsie has grasped concept and agreed to play the New Game - LEAVE.

                          Day Three: Horsie met me at the gate. I smirked. And did NOT try to catch him. I trundled back out there with my cooler and my chair and my book. Today's New Game is "Horsie Lets Me Stand Up and Touch Him, Horsie Gets Carrot." Repeat repeat repeat. Then LEAVE.

                          Day Four's New Game: "Horsie Lets Me Put Lead Rope Around Neck, Horsie Gets Carrot." Repeat Repeat Repeat. Then LEAVE.

                          Day Five's New Game: "Horsie Follows Me With Lead Rope Around Neck, Horsie Gets LOTS Carrots." Repeat Repeat Repeat. Then LEAVE.

                          By this time, Horsie should be meeting you at the gate and following you when you leave. And you STILL have not tried to catch him in any way shape or form. Because Not Being Caught is HIS game, and you're not playing, remember.

                          Day Six's New Game: "Horsie Lets Me Put Halter On/Off, Horsie Gets Carrot AND Gets Turned Loose Again." Repeat, etc... Then LEAVE.

                          Day Seven's New Game: "Horsie Gets Halter Put On, Gets Carrot, Gets Led in A Circle And Turned Loose Again."

                          If you have another day to play "Horsie Gets Haltered, Led Out Of Pasture Then Gets Carrot And Gets Turned Back Out Again And Gets 'Nother Carrot", so much the better. But pretty much, my TB's problem was solved by Day Seven.

                          It's a long boring PITA but it DOES work!

                          Day Seven:

                          I approve this post.

                          This is the same concept I generally use in my training.

                          I refuse to play by their rules. I pay the bills, I feed them, they get to chill and do their own thing for 22 hours a day. They play by MY rules.
                          Originally posted by dizzywriter
                          My saddle fits perfectly well. It might be a little tight around the waist, but I take care of that with those spandex things.


                          • #33
                            I won't lie, I haven't read everyone's posts. But this is what I did with snotty little pony when he decided that he'd rather run circles around the paddock than be caught.
                            (note; only works in reasonably small paddocks)

                            Approach pony with treat visible. Pony is not allowed treat until lead rope is around neck.
                            Pony inevitably decides that he doesn't like that deal and takes off.
                            Stay to the inside of pony's circuit, where ever he's going. Let him run for as long as he wants - but he doesn't get to change direction. (this is the beginning of you controlling movement - no, you KEEP going this way.) Use the lead as a line to keep him moving the way he started.
                            When pony decided he wants to stop, nuh-uh, you get your leetle butt in gear. You wanted to run, now keep running!
                            When pony drops head and start the ear flicking and licking and chewing, stop driving him forward and let him stop.
                            Immediately call out pony's name, show treat, and turn away. Pony must catch you.
                            If pony doesn't approach you, repeat driving forward until more licking and chewing w/head dropped.
                            If pony does approach you, give part of treat then put lead rope around neck. more of the treat. Halter, treat. Pony love (however your pony likes love expressed, whether snuggles or scritches, etc)
                            If pony ducks out before haltering, repeat process.

                            Will probably take a few days or weeks (depending on how clever/stubborn pony is). But before long pony will come when called (remember to reward coming with treats & love).

                            Note that unless you have a very fit horse, any riding after these sessions may result in a less forward pony - running is tiring!