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Please let me catch you!

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  • Please let me catch you!

    So my mare has decided she no longer wants to be caught when shes turned out! Its become a frustrating game! She sees me coming stands perfectly still then turns her head walks away and as soon as i come near she takes off! Then she comes about 15ft from me and just stares then as soon as i take a step off she goes again! Ive tried feed, treats, everything! I can tell she thinks its a game but its not a fun one to me! So frustrating! Any ideas?
    He knows when you're happy, He knows when you're comfortable, He knows when you're confident, And he ALWAYS knows when you have carrots

  • #2
    make her work, right there in turn out. Move her feet and keep her moving for a few minutes. After she's worked for a few minutes, try your approach again. Move towards her by stepping backwards, looking over your shoulder moving towards her shoulder. Your head is down.

    If she lets you touch her, do that scratch or rub her then walk away, repeat. Try this a few times and the last time catch her. On our farm essentially if I can't walk up to a horse to halter them, their halter stays on.

    If she's being a bug about it as you try to approach her again, Make her work again. repeat the process.

    The novelty will soon/quickly wear off for her.


    • #3
      I used to lease a horse that was hard to catch from the field. One trick that worked for me was to crouch down and start pulling up some grass with your fingers (well now it might be snow, depending on where you live)...she'll likely come over to see what you are doing (since it'll look like you're 'grazing') and when she drops her head to your level hopefully you'll be able to grab her halter.


      • #4
        I would put her where she can't get away from you for now, until she is trained to come to you.

        Find some time when you will have a few days to stay at the barn and keep catching her, taking her to a handful of feed, or when you have some good grazing, to excellent grass, whatever floats her boat and make her want to be caught.
        Do that several times a day for a few days.
        Train her that when you call and show her the halter, she is to come and stick her head in it.

        Don't give her a chance to keep repeating what frustrates you, change how you manage her, she doesn't get to go out there until she is reliable about coming to you again.


        • #5
          Treats always work for me. Especially if there is another horse in the turnout with them. Give the other horse treats, and drop some on the gound with him. Then drop some on the ground where your horse can see you do it. When they get up there, give more treats. Don't catch them for the first few days. Just give treats. Eventually, make them take it from your hand. Then, halter, brush, give treats, release.

          You can have this problem permanently fixed in a week.


          • #6
            Originally posted by classicsporthorses View Post
            make her work, right there in turn out. Move her feet and keep her moving for a few minutes. After she's worked for a few minutes, try your approach again. Move towards her by stepping backwards, looking over your shoulder moving towards her shoulder. Your head is down.

            If she lets you touch her, do that scratch or rub her then walk away, repeat. Try this a few times and the last time catch her. On our farm essentially if I can't walk up to a horse to halter them, their halter stays on.

            If she's being a bug about it as you try to approach her again, Make her work again. repeat the process.

            The novelty will soon/quickly wear off for her.
            This. It Will work if you stay consistant. My mare did the same thing to me for a few weeks one summer. It is super frustrating, I know! Have you ever ready monty robert's book about "join up"? Try to read up on that, it makes it so you are in control and you can tell when your horse is about to give up, and eventually he will follow you around.



            • #7
              Horse should not be allowed to turn away/walk away from you. This is a leadership/respect issue and going back to groundwork will help to (re-)establish who the leader is - you! If you have access to a round pen, use it. There are various techniques you can read up on and watch online, but the basic concept is not to run your horse to exhaustion but simply to establish communication - walk, trot, canter and turns when you ask. Licking, chewing and lowering their head means they submit to you (at least at this moment.) Eventually they should be turning in towards you as well. You can stop there or do "join up" exercises if you want.

              Then turn your horse out again, give her a moment to graze and then approach. As soon as she turns away from you, chase her off and make her run. When she stops, slowly approach again, slightly to one side, and if she doesn't stand, chase her off again. Repeat and repeat and repeat until she understands that not standing still results in work. Most likely, if you do this right after establishing leadership, this won't take very long. You might want to do frequent refresher courses after that...

              Good luck!


              • #8
                My hard to catch horses (mostly old broodmares) wear halters, and they can't be bribed with treats or grain-too smart for that. The only thing that works for me is walking them down. If I make them trot, it'll just be longer before I catch them, since they're in a big pasture with other horses. I also never approach with a visible lead- I use a piece of baler twine stuffed in my back pocket. If they see a lead or even think that they're going to be wormed or see the farrier there ain't no way they'll be caught. I've had a little luck slightly reforming a couple of them by just going out with handfuls of peppermints and feeding them treats for no reason, but since I don't do this regularly (nor do I need to catch the jerks regularly), the effect wears off.


                • #9
                  You really can't sneak up on them by carrying baling twine instead of a halter/lead....this is just deceptive and they know it. I'm not into bribery either although it does work at least in the short term for some horses. I agree with the "make her work" concept.....if she stands still you take the pressure off of her, if she moves you make her MOVE!! Just walking her down probably won't teach her anything except for how long she has to walk before you give up (and they have a very good sense of time!)...I walked one once for over 4 hours and she finally walked out into a pond thinking (apparently) that I wouldn't follow her there....wrong!...wearing sneakers so didn't care and tromped right out there (pond in the middle of 65 acres so we had plenty of walking room!)...poor mare looked just speechless (if horses can look that way?) and gave it up. Walk with a purpose...you are going out there to catch her. Carry the lead over your shoulder or anywhere she can see it...hiding it just makes you look silly to her (and your body language is probably sneaky too). Walk toward a shoulder until you see her thinking about moving off.....tell her "whoa" and stop, drop your shoulders and drop eye contact. WAIT. The next move is hers. If she makes even the slightest move TOWARD you back up a bit..one step will do...and tell her "good girl" (you can even turn away from her to release pressure even more). If she makes a move away (turns her head away or steps away or even leans away) get after her and make her seriously move...she made a wrong decision and now working a bit is the result. It is hard work in a field so you CAN do this in a smaller area (round pen, large corral, whatever). Once you have her moving keep her at it for a second or two or 10...enough to convince her that you are in control of when she moves and when she stops. Repeat as much as necessary to get her thinking that you are in charge and she begins looking to you with "what do you want?". NOW start walking away from her ....10-15 feet or so....dropped shoulders, no eye contact..and wait again. If she comes toward you or at least stands still with her attention on you walk toward her maybe 3-4 feet...just to the point where it looks like she MIGHT think about leaving...stop, wait a second or two and then turn and walk back to your starting point. If you push hard enough that she does leave then make her work again. Keep doing this with slightly closer stopping points until you can get to her. DO NOT HALTER HER at this point. Walk away. Repeat until she's fine with you walking up toward her face. The next move again is hers....hold your hand out (I like back of hand...keeps fingers out of the way of getting nipped and reduces the urge on my part to grab her) and WAIT for her to stick her nose out and touch it....she has to come to you, not you to her. Walk away (this is where everyone gets in a hurry and blows most of the work done so far). Repeat, asking her to reach to you each time...when she does give her a rub or scratch and walk away. If she doesn't, she works again. Repeat over and over until she's perfectly relaxed with reaching toward you and you scratching. Now comes the fun part....step away to the side just one step and invite her to reach for your hand again. (some folks "kiss" as a cue...I do as I like more cues at first and then wean them off gradually as they get better and better at responding). Scratch and leave. Repeat...stepping away invites her to come to you which is sort of the whole point, right? Reward that, a lot. Usually within a couple minutes of this point the horse is leading next to me through figure 8's and around the pen. NOW is the time to introduce the halter (even if she already knows what it is... pretend she doesn't) by letting her sniff it, rubbing her head and neck with it hanging over your arm etc. Walk away again and again so that she learns to thing "no big deal" to whatever you are doing. Finally you can halter her...put it on, take it off a half dozen times...if she gets silly and moves away she gets to work again....by staying with you she gets pets, scratches, "atta girls" and maybe, at this point, a treat. Finally, put it on and lead her to where you want her....give her positive attention for being so good.

                  The basic idea of this is to make the thing you want her to do be the easiest...stopping is easier than moving (esp if you are pushing the movement and it is work), turning toward you is easier than working, allowing you close is easier (and has the added reward of scratches) than working, etc....and making the things you don't want her doing harder for her (working is harder than standing and getting scratches). The smaller the steps you take and the more distinct you can make the results of her actions the quicker you will see her decide to go with the easier things.

                  I have one here that the previous people (very aggressive types) couldn't catch and finally roped and choked unconcious to get her halter on her. She didn't trust anything at first. It took me several days for her to allow touching and scratching BUT I made sure that every time I worked with her we ended on her allowing some contact...and then I left her alone...her reward for tolerating my closeness. She's now getting pretty good...it's harder to keep up working as I don't have a round pen and she's in about 17 acres with a dozen other horses and uses them for places to hide...so rather than give her chances to not allow this contact I'm not working her at all at this point...we aren't going backwards. I'm getting a new round pen in another month or two and will have it set so I can bring horses directly from the field into it...and from there to the rest of the place. She's going to be a really nice riding horse when we get to that point...smart and strong and a real thinker...she's a bit of a challenge at times.
                  Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                  Northern NV


                  • #10
                    What classicsporthorses said.

                    And be prepared to spend as long as it takes to catch her (ie, you need to outlast her with respect to keep her moving.)

                    If she stops moving and lets you approach, all is good. If she takes off again, keep her moving beyond when she wants to stop until the stop is your idea, not hers.

                    Persistence will pay off. You do need to keep her in something small enough that you can keep her moving. Letting her run away and watch you chase her will be counter-productive.
                    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. - Eleanor Roosevelt
                    For you to insult me, I must first value your opinion - Unknown
                    Pleasure Portrait 1989-2016...sleep well my girl


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Where'sMyWhite View Post
                      What classicsporthorses said.

                      Persistence will pay off. You do need to keep her in something small enough that you can keep her moving. Letting her run away and watch you chase her will be counter-productive.
                      What WheresMyWhite said....

                      this is a key point that we often have to explain to volunteers and visitors, when we are explaining round pen work and join up. We are not "just chasing him around" -- that's a game to a horse and has nothing to do with communication, it is simply the equivalent of 'tag', and they always win.

                      What we ARE doing is putting pressure on the horse -- ideally at the rib cage just exactly where your body would be if you were riding or slightly forward -- and that pressure says "go out" or "go away", etc. The pressure is similar to that from an alpha mare chastising a disobedient herd member. When said herd member figures it out, relaxes and shows signs of submission, then we have them halt, then turn our back and ask them to come to us, join to us as they would the alpha mare. Show the ultimate submission -- standing in the kicking zone -- and following her stride for stride.

                      If they don't immediately join up, we will draw angles across their line, as an alpha mare would do, and encouraging them to come in. If they choose to move, then the pressure is high and they are told to move FIRMLY -- as someone said, a pretty quick "standing is less work" settles on their minds. They are then expected to follow -- toward the gate, away from it, over things, whatever we may ask depending on their level of training.

                      It is the focal point of our teaching horses new ground skills of all sorts, and for horses who have seen all sorts of bad situations or who are truly truly green/feral and have had no human contact whatsoever.
                      AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                      Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)


                      • #12
                        I have seen people trying to run down their horses or "tire them out" but once caught and released again, the next time they go to catch their horse, they are at it again.

                        This method I have used several times and I have never had a problem. My horses are in an acre paddock and I never have to chase, bribe, or hide halters. I simply walk up and put them on.

                        Here is the method I have used whenever I have a horse that is a butt head and likes to run.

                        First of all, if the horse is in a huge pasture, get them in a small turn out or round pen. When you approach the horse and the horse walks off, follow the horse. Do not make the horse work per say, no making the horse trot. No chasing after the horse. Just follow the horse. Nine times out of ten, the horse will stop and wonder what the heck you are doing within a few minutes- thus, allowing you to halter the horse. If not, keep following the horse until they stop and they stand for you to put the halter on. If they walk off again, keep following until you get it on. No matter how long it takes.

                        Once you get the horse haltered, take the horse to another area of the barn and just let them graze. What you are trying to do is get the horse to associate being haltered with good things. If you just throw a halter on when you want them to work, give meds, or anything they don't like, eventually they are going to think of the halter as bad. You want to change their mindset when it comes to being haltered- you want them to associate it with good as well!

                        Anyway, let them graze for a good 10-15 minutes. Do this for a full week- see if the horse is becoming easier to catch. You can also throw in some good grooming time if you know the horse likes to be groomed.

                        Please do not chase the horse or "make them work." While it is quite comical to watch someone chasing their horse around a field, all it does is tire the horse out and tire the owner out even more. Causes frustration and the horse can feel this.

                        If you calmly do what I suggest, you will have a calm animal. Which leads to an easier to catch horse.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Blondyb View Post
                          Please do not chase the horse or "make them work." While it is quite comical to watch someone chasing their horse around a field, all it does is tire the horse out and tire the owner out even more.
                          You are NOT supposed to run after them, just chase them off (for being disrespectful.) If you break a sweat, you're doing it wrong And yes, of course, this whole exercise works a lot better on one acre vs. ten, that's understood.

                          To the OP: As you can see, there are many opinions on how to approach this, just like with any other training issue. What works with one horse may not work with the next. But hopefully you got some ideas and can figure out what technique your mare would respond to best. However, avoid the short cuts (like treats) because in an emergency, a stranger needs to be able to catch your horse as well...


                          • #14
                            I agree with making them work. Show them that the easy thing is to come to you. The hard thing is to walk away. If they turn away, make em sweat. When they stop and turn towards you, walk away. Rinse and repeat.


                            • #15
                              Agreed to make them work. I've always found that to work, but this has only been in smaller pastures.

                              Also, what motivates your horse the most? Mine is totally food motivated so she will pretty much run to the gate because she associates food/treat with coming in from turnout.


                              • #16
                                Yup...make her work.
                                She'll soon figure out that getting caught is much better than being chased all over the pasture.


                                • #17
                                  I admit that my appy mare is a very unusual horse.
                                  Several months ago she started running from me when she'd see me load the trailer for a trip. This from a horse that comes running from where ever whenever I call her. I never chased her and she'd run around like crazy instead of coming but eventually she'd come to me.

                                  A friend said she was just pulling my strings and try cheering her on and see what happened. I went out to get her, she started running and I started cheering. WAY TO GO!! LOOK AT THAT GIRL GO!! GO, NADIE, GO, NADIE, GO!
                                  She stopped dead, looked at me and came to me. The next time I went to get her for our trailer trip you could tell she was thinking about running but when I said GO, GIRL she changed her mind and came right to me. Hasn't even thought about doing it since. Guess I ruined the game.
                                  They should all be so easy.
                                  You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Mallard View Post
                                    Yup...make her work.
                                    She'll soon figure out that getting caught is much better than being chased all over the pasture.

                                    I dunno about you but all the horses I have seen being "chased around the pasture" eventually make it into a game.

                                    Like I said before though, always fun watching someone "chasing" their horse out in the pasture!


                                    • #19
                                      It's not chasing them, it's moving them and making them work and if in a herd situation, keeping them away from their herd. A totaly different thing from "chasing them around the pasture".

                                      We had a pony here once who at his last barn the people, BO too, spent most of the kids lesson time trying to catch the pony i,e, chasing him.

                                      He came to me and learned real quick I only run after horses in an emergency. Brownie, the pony thought he'd be real cool and when not wanting to get caught on the first day, would go walk into a shalllow pond we had in that pasture. I'd do my usual thing as explained above and as I got close he'd take off. I ignored him but made sure he could not join his herd.

                                      off to the pond he'd go, like his "safe" place. Well imagine his suprise when I backed myself right INTO the pond where he was standing. I scratched his neck and walked off. Pony followed me right out and was never a problem to catch again. I beat him at his own game b/c he "thought' He could outsmart me. NOT.


                                      • #20
                                        Haven't finished reading all the replies yet, but OMG I was just about to post the exact same thing! So glad I'm not the only one facing this - my mare seems to be loving being "wild and free" on 24/7 turnout at our new barn *rolls eyes*