Barn Help Can't Catch Him?

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Barn Help Can't Catch Him?

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    05-22-2012, 12:51 AM
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?
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    05-22-2012, 01:14 AM
I think he doesn't trust the barn help. Maybe they give off strange vibes.

I'm sure they don't use the same technique as you. Perhaps they simply walk straight towards him with halter in hand, maybe they don't lead him with as much care and courtesy.

Have they talked with you about it, specifically?
Eolith likes this.
    05-22-2012, 01:32 AM
Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel    
Perhaps they simply walk straight towards him with halter in hand, maybe they don't lead him with as much care and courtesy.
This is precisely what I suspect. I don't know how best to explain this though... and I'm not sure how long it would take to repair the misunderstanding they seem to have developed.

My manner when I catch him is, "Hello. Shall we go inside together?"... while the barn help is likely more akin to, "You're coming with me. Let's go."
    05-22-2012, 01:34 AM
Originally Posted by Eolith    
My manner when I catch him is, "Hello. Shall we go inside together?"... while the barn help is likely more akin to, "You're coming with me. Let's go."
Yes exactly!

My horse used to run from the barn help too. So I began to change the approach in how I caught him. Sometimes it was rushed, sometimes it was really laid back. Other times I marched into that pasture and he was alarmed but when I caught him I loved on him and let him know it's all good. It helped my boy, just have to make sure you do it without freaking him out.

Just so he was prepared for different people. He even comes when strangers call his name now, so it may be worth a shot.
    05-22-2012, 04:52 AM
Green Broke
I would say it could be any of the three: A, B or D. I really don't think the fly mask has anything to do with it.

A and B could be for similar reasons. Barn hands are there to get a job done. They don't want to dilly dally unless they are killing time. Guys are the same way. Direct and to the point. Just like shopping for clothes. We go in and get what we want and we're done. Now don't get mad. Girls on the other hand like to look around, see what's new, cute and so on. Women are similar with horses. They like to coo over them. I'm not saying it's always like that but in general. I think Sky's comment about changing how you approach them would be worth a try.

As for D, it may be possible but I think it would also show up after being caught and when you also go to catch him.
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    05-22-2012, 05:15 AM
My grandmother and mother both own mustangs that I cannot catch, and those are the only horses that I have been around that shut out everyone but their own "someone". I think it has something to do with that mustang personality, but that is just an opinion based on the couple I have known. I hope you find a solution to your problem!
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    05-22-2012, 11:18 AM
He is old enough to start testing. It is common that one issue gets resolved and they pick another. When we were working with a 3 yr old it seemed every few weeks she'd thought up something new to test us with. She finally gave it up.
rob likes this.
    05-22-2012, 12:55 PM
Is the help catching him to put him in for the night?
    05-22-2012, 01:17 PM
What are they catching him for? Bringing in to feed at night? Or is he pasture board and its just to bring him in for vet, farrier, riding, etc?
    05-22-2012, 01:18 PM
Originally Posted by Eolith    
B. Dislikes Men -- It is possible that he just doesn't really like men all that much.
Wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard this, preceded by the words "s/he usually.." XD

If I had to venture a guess having been a hired hand once or twice, I would guess that the barn help is in a hurry because they've got work to do and little time to waste. That's not fitting to some horses, hence the catching avoidance. The best thing they could do if they don't have time to finish the job of getting him caught is to not even start (otherwise they'll have made him worse).

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