Can't catch mare in the field - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 01-27-2009, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Can't catch mare in the field

Hi! I'm new on this forum. I don't own horses of my own but for five years a lady has boarded her horses in the field next to us. I kind of look after them for her like they are my own and train the foals ect. She lets me ride the trained ones too.

One of the mares that is here now is very hard to catch in the field. Before her present owner got her she must have been mistreated as she would rear, bolt or kick at anyone that tried to get near her. She had to be roped to catch her in a stall. When she was calmed enough for her owner to ride her she would shake.

She was brought to our place a year ago and I've spent a lot of time with her gaining her trust. She is a very smart horse and I am able to catch her in a corral (with oats), groom her and even ride her a bit. But she is still very hard to catch in the field. Sometimes she'll come for oats and I can get a hold of her halter but other times she realizes I'm going to catch her a keeps away. I wonder if she is nervous to be caught as she had bad experiences before.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I really have gotten to love this mare a lot and would love to be able to catch her in the field.
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-27-2009, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Florida
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I've never had to deal with that problem yet but this lady rescued a horse that was hard to catch. She shows the way she got him to come around and I think it might work for you if you tried it for a while in the coral.

Click on the link on the right that says "Flip That Horse" The first 3 videos are ones dealing with catching, haltering, leading.
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post #3 of 9 Old 01-27-2009, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for the website! I will try those methods with this mare. She really is so sweet, she just needs to get over her fear of being caught!
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-27-2009, 01:59 PM
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I had this problem with a pony once... he was mistreated.... we had to keep him in a stall for a couple weeks and worked with him. He got to were 1 person(my friends little sister) could catch him in the field but he still ran from everyone else..

the thing is horses dont forget much. so once they are wrongged like that its HARD to gain there trust back at all. I would say just keep working with her in the coral. and good luck!

The more your horse trust you. The more you can teach your horse
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post #5 of 9 Old 01-28-2009, 10:42 AM
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i would try keeping him in a smaller space for awhile where it is easier to catch him and work with him daily on gaining trust and have him learn that being with you isn't going to be a traumatic thing, if he is afraid while being ridden don't ride him when you catch him for awhile, only do the things he is comfortable with so he doesn't learn that being with you will not be any fun. I would try just grooming and massaging him when your with him, find out what treat he likes best and really just build the trust that he has lost in humans. Let us know how it goes!
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post #6 of 9 Old 01-28-2009, 11:07 AM
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This is what I did to catch T when I first started working with her (she didn't belong to me or me to her yet:) .)

Because she was kept in a large pasture with the other horses, she did not wear a halter. So I not only had to catch her I had to put her halter on too.

Step 1. Wear very comfortable shoes, bring water (for yourself), because this will take as long as it will take.

Step 2. Besure to have a treat with you (T loves carrots).

Step 3. Locate the horse in the pasture (this can take some time depending on how large the pasture is). Once you see the horse this is important...use a signal, mine was to clap 3 times, then call her name.
Her head should come up, just out of surprise if nothing else. Stay put.
Her head will go down again, move a few more steps, don't rush this and clap 3 times , call her name again. Wait.

Continue this step, the first few times it will take a while,but eventually you will get close enough, and don't be tempted to try and grab her or put the halter on yet. Once close enough to actually be within touching distance, call her name again and offer a treat when she looks at you.

She will either move forward to take the treat or away. If she moves forward, give the treat and move away a few steps and call her again.
You want her to come to you, and eventually when she hears the clap and the call she will come to you willingly. The first few times, do not halter and lead out. Tempting, but you don't want her to associate coming to you with anything scary or unpleasant (T always made the connection of being caught with having to work).

Some have called this moment when the horse starts to follow you as the join up or hooking on. Whatever, you want her to look to you as a good place to be, treats , gentle stroking and talking.

If instead of moving to you she moves away, this is where the comfortable shoes and water come in handy. You will simply continue to move closer and stopping while clapping and calling. Try not to move head on to her but more at an angle with her shoulder. Think of the field as a huge round pen and when she turns and moves away from you, you will move to head her off and possibly turn her again. Eventually she will tire of this constant moving and will decide to look at you (this annoying person who is not getting tired and frustrated ) and will become curious and move to you.

ONce I did this with T, it only took a few times and then upon hearing the 3 claps (you can whistle or ring a bell which is what I use now) and my voice calling her she would come galloping up from the field and to the gate where I was standing.

It was easier teaching Walka this because I started working with him shortly after he was born. If he spots me, he immediately comes to me now, T will but only after the bell rings 3 times.

Be patient and consistent and when you find you're getting frustrated, take a break. As you know your horse will sense these emotions and it will affect the outcome.

Sorry this is so long and I hope I didn't forget anything. Good luck!
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post #7 of 9 Old 01-28-2009, 12:22 PM
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I just want to offer encouragement. When my horse came to me, she was accustomed to being "caught" by being run into a holding pen by a dirt bike and herd dogs. It took several months of going our every day, sometimes twice or 3 times a day. getting close enough to get a rope on her, rubbing her with the halter and rope, get the halter on, then take it off and let her go.
Then start all over the next time.
It can be done if you put the time and effort into it. Vida now pretty much puts the halter on herself

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #8 of 9 Old 01-28-2009, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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I agree that she probably does think she will have to work every time she is caught. And whoever owned her before must have made it a very bad experience for her. I'm now just doing a lot of petting and feeding her treats when she comes or lets me approach her. She's already doing much better! I'm trying to keep her in her comfort zone before moving on with anything else. Thanks for all the advice!
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post #9 of 9 Old 01-29-2009, 11:00 AM
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No problem!
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