Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Washington State
Barn Help Can't Catch Him?
My boy is a two year old gelding. He's a Kiger Mustang that we adopted last October, so he's only been living the domestic life since then. Even so, I've now trained him to lead, longe, stand tied, allow his feet to be handled/trimmed, be saddled, groomed, etc.
When he was first moved to the boarding facility he is at now, it was a bit of a rough transition. I was practically the only person that he would allow to handle him. He wouldn't let the guy who works at the barn catch him. Fortunately as he settled and was turned out with two older horses, he began allowing the barn help to catch him. As of two or three days ago however, he's decided that he won't allow the barn guy to catch him.
He still allows me to catch him without fail however -- in fact he'll often come to meet me.
There's a few things that could be causing problems... what I have to figure out is which ones (or what combination) is contributing to the problem... and how I can remedy it. >_<
A. Poor Technique -- It is possible that the barn help is approaching him in a manner that he somehow perceives as threatening... or they just do it differently than I do and he doesn't like that. When I go to catch my critter, I walk up to him in no particular rush. I call his name and talk to him a little, at which point he usually raises his head, orients to me, and will sometimes move towards me. I approach his shoulder, reach out to rub his neck, then clip the lead to his halter. After I have attached the lead, I give him one treat. This method has worked flawlessly for me for the past four months at least.
B. Dislikes Men -- It is possible that he just doesn't really like men all that much. There haven't been any men who have worked with him on an "I'm your friend" basis. The only men he's known since being domesticated are the ones who gelded him and pulled out his wolf teeth, and this guy at the barn whose primary objective is to get him from point A to point B, and not much beyond that. Additionally, as far as I know he has allowed almost any woman to approach and catch him. My mom, my sister, and a couple of my friends (all of us women) have caught him without difficulty.
C. Fly mask -- The barn owner tells me that she thinks his fly mask may be causing headshyness of some sort... because he wasn't properly introduced to it or something. Since I initially showed it to him and worked with him on putting it on and taking it off however, he's never had a problem with me putting it on or taking it off. The only situation under which he has shown headshyness was prior to my getting the fly mask: when I reached out to his face the flies would take off in a flurry around his face and it startled him. I got the fly mask to prevent this from happening, and it seems to have done the trick... but the barn owner thinks that it is causing a problem.
D. Attitude -- There could just be a healthy dose of "the terrible twos" going on. The weather is warmer, the grass is greener... could it be that he's just being a snot and expressing his preference for staying outside?
Given all that I've said... does anyone think it's more likely to be one factor or the other? Any advice for how best to address the issue?