Can't catch my horse!
I mostly need some encouragement here plus some advice, because this is really driving me crazy! Sorry for the long-ish post, but I feel like all this contributes to the fact that my horse is seriously not interested in me or especially being caught at the moment.... The short version is that my horse has lost all interested in being caught, especially when there are other horses around. He had a lesson from the trainer in obeying when we tell him to stop, but then next day was even worse as we had to rope him and now he's in a stall :( I've been working in the round pen and even moved to the arena, where he'll stop and let me approach him when I tell him to. However, as soon as we introduce other horses into the situation (which I've done by letting my colt loose in the arena with us), all meaning of the word "WOAH" disappears and he will do just about anything to avoid being caught, especially if the other horses are moving. I can now approach him *sometimes* if my colt his holding still near him, but the overall impression I get is that he's really just not that interested in me. You know it's bad when your horse doesn't even care that you've got a full bucket of grain! (though I think I have discovered that there are other things he likes better, at least until he gets tired of them). This is so discouraging! I don't want to give up on him, but sometimes I just feel like it's hopeless because he just doesn't care.
So for the full version, and many of the factors that I believe led to this point, here goes:
At the beginning of February, I bought my first Arabian, a 7 year old gelding. He'd had 30 days on him a few years ago, but then hadn't really had any regular work since then. Also, he was kept in a stall, so when he was out he was either ridden or the hot walker (which I think was most of his exercise since he really wasn't ridden a whole lot). I bought him from the lady who bred him, who is a reputable breeder, but I guess he just wasn't the priority and had only been started with regular rides just before I bought him since they were marketing him. He did/does have some bad habits that I've been working with, though avoiding being caught wasn't one of them, especially since it's fairly easy to catch any horse in a stall.
That being said, when I took him, he needed regular and consistent work AND I bought him for endurance riding (this year will be both his and mine first experience with endurance though). I originally had him at my parents' place, with just a small arena and round pen, where we worked on basic things and getting used to each other to get him to where he needed to be before I took him out on a trail at all. However, due to a number of issues, I moved him to a boarding facility within two weeks, where he went out on pasture with a herd of about 12 horses, and again he is king of the herd. Shortly thereafter we began working on trails (you can ride of the property into miles of BLM land) and started doing about 20 miles a week. He started to get less interested in being caught, but it was not really an issue until last Friday, when he flat out refused to let me approach him and I had to have the help of a trainer to corner him. During this event, she recognized he needed to have some serious respect and obedience training, so we went immediately to the round pen and worked with him for 2 hours until he stopped when we said "woah" - he stops immediately when I'm on him, but isn't as responsive when you're on the ground and especially when he's not "caught". Before this lesson, he was way too busy whinnying for the other horses to pay much attention. However, since this lesson, he stops VERY well in the round pen and even now if I work him free in the arena.
Unfortunately, the lesson didn't stick as the next day, he wouldn't even let us corner him and we ended up having to rope him. It was quite an ordeal (he's very spooky), and the guy who roped him for me did quite a bit of desensitization with the lasso. He was so sweaty and exhausted after all of that, I didn't have the heart to make him work anymore. Rather than returning him to the pasture, he went to his new stall and has been there since. I've worked with him on stopping with "woah" and coming to me afterward in the round pen and even the arena now, but he really doesn't seem all that interested in me and kind of does things on his own time and how/when he feels like it. Worst of all, as soon as I introduce another horse, all the progress we've made simply disappears. I've been riding him, but only 30 minute short ones that don't work him into a sweat, mostly working on collecting in the arena. My ideas are to keep doing what we're doing, as well as trying to turn him out in the arena with other horses and catch-treat-release over and over. If that goes well, I think I'll turn him loose in the pasture with a lunge line attached (yes, the 30 feet of line really is necessary in this case) and do the same thing. Hopefully, since I truly think I am part of the issue here, I can teach him to want to be with me. But right now, I just feel so discouraged!!