bad behavior related to catching and leading a horse - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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bad behavior related to catching and leading a horse

Horse is a 6 year old gelding. This horse was spoiled and I think even drugged when I bought him. I've worked alot with him and he has learned to back up, side pass and he is generally pretty good in the saddle although he can be stubborn at times and is a little high strung. He works well in the round pen.

He has started to get under my skin lately. He is in about a 2 acre pasture and when I go to catch him he will run around if I have a lead rope in my hand. So we play that game for a few minutes then when I do get the lead rope on him he will at times take off and break free and run around some more. Ill finally catch him and get him in the round pen and work the crap out of him.... but Im not sure if that is helping correct these two issues that have come up, it may be counterproductive, but he is a very energetic horse and the work in the round pen seems to keep him in line.

When I got him he would lead fine, this seems to be a new behavior probably related to him not wanting to work in the round pen. Someone has suggested using a stud chain to break him of this habit but that seems extreme to me. Plus Im not sure if that will help me catch him. I know I can coax him with food or treats but don't really want to go that route. So I am asking for some help to see how some of you guys would handle this.
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post #2 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 08:51 PM
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maybe stand in his paddock, and being curious he may come up to you, do that everyday, then when he's getting the hang of you in his paddock and comes up to let him sniff the halter for so many days, then put it around his nose, take it off do it again and praise praise praise, and maybe he will gradually trust u
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post #3 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by diat150 View Post
so we play that game for a few minutes then when I do get the lead rope on him he will at times take off and break free and run around some more. Ill finally catch him and get him in the round pen and work the crap out of him.... but Im not sure if that is helping correct these two issues that have come up, it may be counterproductive, but he is a very energetic horse and the work in the round pen seems to keep him in line.
I would stop using just a lead rope to go get him, use a halter and lead rope all the time everytime.

Any chance you can chase him into the round pin?
If not the best you can do is not give up you go out to get him no matter how long it takes you get him everytime.
Do you have a smaller area you can put him in to cetch him in?
I am afraid that you will get to where you can cetch him in the round pin and it will take a lot to get to the piont that you can cetch him out in the pin.
One idea, how often do you go out to the pasture to not cetch him just go out and hang out with him? Bring a grooming brush, maybe every once in awhile a treat. (I know I know treats for of the evil treats are bad). When I go out to feed, I try to take time everyday to pet scrach and talk to a few horses. And yes sometimes I will bring some treats to give out. If you never go out to see your horse other then when its time to work, your horse will learn they are here to make me work. Teach them that its good to want to spend time with you. Just an idea that has worked for me. (sorry to everyone that disagrees with treats).
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post #4 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 09:09 PM
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So you catch him and then he gets worked, hard. Then he decides he doesn't want to be caught, tries to get away, ultimately is caught, and then once he is caught, is worked even harder. Tell me why he would want to let himself be caught again? ;)

I'd try to reward him when he DOES let himself be caught. You don't have to not work him that day, but once he's caught, do something he enjoys for a few minutes first to make being caught a positive experience. That might be leading him over to a pan with some feed, taking him somewhere with green grass to graze for a few minutes if he's in a dry lot, or grooming him for a bit depending on his personality. Then go get started with your training or workout for the day.

One 'trick' someone else mentioned in another thread was that when you do get up to him in pasture, don't halter or toss the lead rope over his neck right away. Scratch his neck or stand with him for a minute first, then halter him. Yes, at first he will probably take off on you again when you try, but you want to make catching him a low-key, calm routine, not a horse chase, and making the 'catching' him with the halter part anti-climactic and after the fact, you can help change the mentality of the routine. I use cookies (one when he lets me touch his neck, one when he lets me halter him, and a last one after we go through the gate and he turns and faces me and the gate politely while I latch it), but not everyone does and they're not really necessary, but my horse loves cookies, so it means that 99 times out of 100, standing to be caught is better in his opinion than losing out on cookies.
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post #5 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 09:23 PM
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A simple, but effective, reward in this case might be rest. Once you have him haltered, just stand there for a few minutes. If he likes attention, rub on him a little, but if not, don't. Just stand without asking anything from him.
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post #6 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 09:29 PM
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Yes, like sharpie said, don't snatch the halter on him when you do get up to him. And like Bob said, sometimes do nice things with him when you catch him.

But, he should be catchable, no matter what. So, that's something to work on. Dedicate some time, a few days perhaps , where you aren't going to ride him, just catch him and recatch him, and maybe lead him around, groom him, give him a treat, let him go, then the next day recatch him.

Look up on this forum some of the threads about catching a horse where they describe how to "Walk down a horse". a way of catching them in larger areas.
Usually, if you do this a few times, you don't have to do it every time. Horse learns it's easier to be caught than not to be.
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post #7 of 13 Old 04-29-2013, 09:38 PM Thread Starter
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I really think he is doing it just to be a "butt". Maybe it is entertaining to him because he has a playful demeanor when doing it. He will run up to the fence where the other horses are, that's kind of his landing spot while Im catching up to him. I can just imagine him talking to the other horses saying "Look how I make this fool chase me around."

Its definitely centered around the lead rope and working in the round pen... I can do whatever with him for the most part.
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post #8 of 13 Old 04-30-2013, 01:54 AM
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I've never had a problem catching any of my 4 horses and the one boarded here. I will halter them for their supper every day, no halter means no supper.......don't think I have ever had to make them miss their supper. Sometimes I will bring them out, give them a bit of alfalfa for a treat and just groom them.....the others stand at the gate with their heads hanging through waiting to see who is going to be next......and yes sometimes they are worked but when you mix it up for them, then they don't know what you are getting them for.....I know if every time someone caught me they worked me hard I would make dang sure they didn't catch me LOL

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-30-2013, 05:06 AM
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Chasing the crap out of your horse after you do catch him isn't going to make him easier to catch as others have noted and its much more likely to make him harder to catch as he learns a negative association between you and then being chased pointlessly around a round pen.

He isn't being hard to catch because he wants to annoy you or make you feel bad. He is just a horse. Horses don't have insights into their own behaviour, let alone their owners. They don't have the mental capacity to understand the needs and desires of humans. All they know is that sometimes they get good outcomes when the interact with humans and sometimes they get bad outcomes. If the bad outcomes follow something like being caught they may well choose not to be caught. So you need to make being caught a good outcome for the horse. The food that you've been using is a good option as its something the horse genuinely values.

Create an association between the sight of you walking into the paddock and food and the catching problem will disappear and pretty quickly.

I use food to catch all of my horses. They live in several 60 acre paddocks in large groups (10+ horses) and they all come thundering down to the gate as soon as they see me or hear my call. Sure beats walking up and down hills to find them or watching their butts disappear up into the trees. They don't get it every time they come, but I give it to them on a random schedule which keeps them very motivated to see if today is the day. I don't ever have to go to them- they come to me. A good outcome for them and me.
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post #10 of 13 Old 04-30-2013, 01:26 PM
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I've never had to use food to catch our horses........never had to chase them either.......I think if you change things up all the time the horses never know what is next.......I guess I can't really say I don't use food to catch them......they know at supper time they have to be haltered/tied before they get their supper but I don't use it if I go out to ride or work with a horse.....

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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