Equestrian Blogs > The horse who won't be caught

The horse who won't be caught

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1 year ago
I've already read the 'hard to catch mare' thread, so don't bother repeating anything you said there. I have a slightly different issue with one of our boarded horses. Remy is an ex-racehorse and of course no one has any idea what his early training and care was like, except that he was half starved when our boarder bought him. He's nine years old now and just begining to finally settle down and learn to be a horse. The problem is sometimes he just seems to get a burr up his butt and will gallop away from you out in the paddock. He's an incredibly sensetive horse and can tell from a mile away if you have bad vibes. Any time I'm already having a bad day I absolutely dread the possibility of having to catch him becuase I know he'll sense my mood and run. And boy does he run. Montana mentioned the round pen exercise. Perhaps if we had a roundpen with less space he might give up, but loose in the arena he'll just gallop like crazy. He won't come for treats. He won't let you get close enough to even know you have treats. and when he IS caught he does NOT instantly become an angel. He acts like a wild horse. He seems to have absolutely no trust in people. Even if you get lucky enough to catch him as soon as the lead shank clips on he panics and backs up rearing. Many times he's pulled the rope out of his owners hands and taken off trailing it. Once he literally would not stop running until he was completely exhausted and begining to stumble. I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself one of these days.
We've even tried playing 'good cop, bad cop' with him, one person urging him on while the other offers him the escape of stopping, all to no avail. He'd be a very nice horse if just this catching issue (and his cribbing problem!) could be resolved, but as it is I sometimes spend literally a couple hours a day helping his owner catch him! Any ideas?
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I'm not a horse trainer with years of experience, but I have tried teja's approach on my hard to catch filly and it really works. I also suggest you do it in a ring or at least a 60 foot round pen or the horse will just outrun you so bad you'll lose patience and give up. Once you start this you can't give up even if it takes all day. Also, don't just take the lead rope and halter, have it handy, like in the middle of the pen, but carry a carrot stick with a short rope on the end instead. The confinement will agitate the horse. It will make him run, but but that's ok, YOU just keep calm and keep following and don't back off even if he charges you. He's just trying to get you to leave him alone any way he can, so if he gets scary, you get scary: get big, brandish your carrot stick, wildly if need be, and don't let him move YOU, you move him! The only time you back off from following, even chasing that horse is when he turns toward you. Then as soon as he turns even an eye toward you, immediately react, stop your feet and turn away. If he turns and faces you and gives you two eyes and yields his butt, then you don't just turn away, you turn right around and WALK AWAY like you've got someplace to go. After you get this to happen two or three times, you will see he starts drawing in to you. You can also try this by getting him moving around you in the pen, then cross the pen and cut him off to change his direction. If he turns away from you, gives you his butt, you go after it with the carrot stick and make him run. Don't stop this until he gives two eyes to you, then you back right off, lower the stick, turn your body at least sideways to him if not completely away. If he fully turns toward you let up completely, walk away.
This is how I was taught to work on "draw" with my horse. She was willfull and dominant and fast, still is, but after chasing her around the barn like this a few times, she now knows to come to me when I've got the halter and lead rope. If the horse is out in the pasture and you're trying to get him in, and he runs off and you can't get your lead rope situated to flick him on the butt as teja said, just throw your works AT his butt as he's running away! It's funny but it'll scare him and I guarantee he'll think twice about your reach before he turns his tail to you again! IF you can't do that then you chase that butt right outa there! Think about what a mama horse does, or alpha mare, if a horse is being disrespectful and gives her it's butt, that butt gets bit or chased! You can also play on draw by just getting the horse to look at you. Every time you go out there, insist that horse look at you as you walk into the paddock. Clap your hands against your sides, then when it looks at you you stop advancing and turn away from him, that keeps the respect you established in the ring exercise going. Hey good luck with him!
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I read your comments on your ex race horse and thought I might be able to help. I recently was contracted to train some american wormbloods mostly throughbred, they had beed raised in a huge heard situation on several hundred acres, no human hands on them until me. I used the walk down method and it works everytime. just be sure you can take the time for this on the first day, take your halter and lead with you and walk toward the horse, whenever he runs off just walk and follow him, don't try to trap or corner him don't have anyone else with you just keep follwing him, this will take patience and time. when you get close enough to him flik the lead rope at him, yes, chase him away, keep following him when you catch up to him, chase him off again with your rope. don't run after him, just continue to walk after him. he doesn't need to be chased into exaustion by running him, just keep him moving away from you. The pressure of your constant following him will be enough, eventually he will want to turn and look at you from a distance, when this happens stop walking towards him and turn away from him. watch him out of the corner of your eye and when he looks away from you, instantly throw the rope and resume following him, don't let him rest or stop to eat, keep him moving until he looks at you,soon he will turn and face you, thats when you let him rest. soon you will be able to reach your hand out to him and take a step towards him without him fleeing again, don't look at him or chase him when he is faceing you he is looking for you to stop pushing him around the field and will eventually COME TO YOU. untill he does keep chasing him when he flees from you or turns away from you. soon every time you go out to catch him you will throw the rope once and he will turn face and approach you. the key is to cause the horse to catch you . It's really a fun task. Enjoy

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It might sound corny (but it has never failed me in more than ten years grooming) Smoother that horse with Love. Always move slowly and speak softly. Walk gentle and sing a song you know. Once caught the next time take the long way to were you want to go. Then always, always, always brush your horse Brush every square millimeter of this horse head to toe and here is the big tip ONLY use 100% horse hear brushes - nothing else will do. After once or twice your horse will be longing for his/her brush. As soon as you find out that they like it. When you go to get your horse, get his attention - let him know you are there to fetch him, move toward him and then slowly back up. Sort of a cat a mouse...he'll come to you. Never chase a horse let him choose to come to you. Sounds stupid? Try it. It works with every horse. Only needed is your time and Patience.
Good luck - Equine psychology
"fisherman"
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this is a simple problem made into a big problem. he just nows as soon as hes loose he nows hes free. ok well this mite be abite or a rong move to do but if you wont to catch him and train him to this is one of the simplist ways to do. das he got a paddock? can you get some eletric fence gear plus a eletric fence unit? ok well to start off make it small this is the 1st thing to do. only reson why is that hes just getting his own way. hes the boss. so youll have to get him in a small part to train him. ok well youll need to buy it some food that it likes and stuff. start off with feeding him on a rop to show him that in that bucket is food and stuff and show him its there you mite have to put a little in his mouth th let him tast it. then start off with putting the food in the paddock dont enter it stay out side but put it in for him and stay out and talk to him. this will take a week for the horse to get to now to eat it. ok in two weeks he should now the buckets got food in it and he mite wont to go to get it. ok youll need to go into the paddock he nows its food in the bucket then and just stay still dont go after him shak the bucket ow when u start wit hte bucket make the nosey so he nows. ok it will take a little whyill to get him to come somtimes it dasnt. then one little thing do not tach the horse or anything it will stuff the hole idear up and ull have to start all over agean. well when it comes put the bucket out and let her eat it dont make a nosey stay carm and just feed it and tal kto it. ok then make this a dayly habite feeding and slowly move the fence tape back a little each day hill be ok to catch when you get to the end of the paddock say 2 weeks aguess. then all youll need latter is a little snack in the bucket and go and take the holter and lead hill come then over nad dun. the only time he wont come is that he cant be stuffed. this is a bribe to the horse but a easy way to catch it and stuff. hope it helps : )
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1 year ago
Dodge, I appreciate your imput but feel I need to remind you that A, this is a broken, trained horse. He seems to have severe trust issues and while I'm looking to help him, he's not my horse. I cannot sell and cannot train him, I just have to figure out how to deal with him. I'm not the one who lets him go when he balks, in fact I never have.
Drafted, we've tried that already! On a longe, he tries to not work and just come in and if you try to send him away even subtly he overreacts. The Catching and not working plan didn't work either.
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My full reply was edited out again!! :) If you want contact info on the Hunt clinic, contact me and I will supply you with this information.
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FYI Ray Hunt is giving a clinic March 31 - April 2 in Chesterfield, VA. If your owner is serious about this horse he/she won't find a better horseman to give an opinion... Regardless of whether the owner wnats to attend with this horse this is an excellent opportunity to learn from the master. You would want to call the sponsor to see if this clinic is appropriate for this horse. A colt starting clinic is what you would hope is being offered.
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The running away prob is part of a bigger issue. Is there any way to work with this horse on a lunge line-kind of like training a dog to come to you-send him out & use your body & line to ask him to come to you when you want him too. Use quiet, soothing voice tones & petting his favorite spots as a reward for coming & then send him back out. Try to avoid turning out until he trusts you or turn him out in the smallest pen. If/when you do catch him, pet him, talk to him, then let him go again so he doesn't keep associating getting caught w/bad things. Maybe you can allow him to live outside 24/7 for awhile-this is a great help in calming & settling a lot of horses.
I bought a gelding that wouldn't allow himself to be caught & after a few weeks of figuring out it meant getting rubdowns, treats & then released, he was fine. Now this horse doesn't try to run & instead follows me around looking for the treats & scratches.
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From what you've said it would seem to me that the issue you're facing is not his being hard to catch. That's a symptom of a much more serious problem. The trust issue caught my attention more than anything else. How did this horse come into the owners life? Was it a rescue scenerio? The very fact that you're the one bearing the burden (and not the owner) makes me suspect that there is a fundamental mismatch between the owner and the horse. How long has the horse been off the track? Was he bounced around from owner to owner before your boarder bought him? What are the owner's intentions with this fellow? Please fill us all in on more details. What does it mean to you that the horse is finally becoming a horse? Has your owner been riding the horse successfully once caught?

Every horse is different of course, and the comments I made on the other blog about the hard to catch mare wouldn't apply here in my opinion. You're dealing with more serious latent issues that need to be addressed before someone gets hurt.