catching problem - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 11-16-2009, 10:41 PM Thread Starter
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Question catching problem

I ride a horse at my stables. She is a 3rd lvl dressage horse, so she is not a green or unexperienced horse. But she is exceedingly hard to catch!! If you go to catcher her, she walks away, but i don't want to run after her, the faster you move the faster she moves away. Also, she loves playing peek-a-boo from behind another horse. You go on one side of this horse, and she moves to the other, and you try and follow her, and she just does a big circle. Im not the best at catching this type of horse, so im not too sure what i should be doing. I've tried bringing her treats, and getting her that way, but she doesn't come to that. Although im always relativly close to her, i don't want to make any sudden movements, because she just jerks away before you can get her. Also, when she plays peek-a-boo, when she gets tired of it or you start getting close enough to catch her, she somehow spooks the horse that she is moving around, which makes you jump back to get out of the way.

Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-16-2009, 10:51 PM
Green Broke
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This is what I have done:

Walk toward the horse. Always stay sideways to the horse. Keep halter on shoulder. Horse moves you move, horse moves faster you move a little faster, horse gallops away you let it until it comes to a stop and then you walk up to it. If the horse stands you inch your way closer. Always move with the horse at it's shoulder. Don't face it. Try to keep your shoulder to it's shoulder. Always move slow and whisper. If she cuts around the other horses continue to move with her (without getting yourself into the line of fire). This might take awhile. I think I was out for over an hour one time. But the horse that I was catching had NEVER had a halter on and did not like people period. At the end I managed to halter her. But you have to keep at it.
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-16-2009, 11:45 PM
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I go with the philosophy of giving the horse too much of what it wants. If it's a relatively small space, what I do is attempt to walk towards the horse, and, if the horse moves away, flick the leadrope at its hindquarters and ask it to move away at a brisk trot and keep the horse moving at a brisk trot until it shows signs of interest in being haltered instead of trotting. You'll have to do this a few times, but I've never had it fail, because eventually, the horse learns what will happen if it tries to run away and will therefore not want to run away anymore.

If it's a relatively large space, walk parallel to the horse moving towards it's hindquarters. Most horses have a natural tendency to turn towards you if you do this and once you have the horse's full attention and they're curious about you, it's much easier to catch them. I don't know how extreme your horse is, but if she's mild to medium, this might work for you. Hope this helps and good luck!
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post #4 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 08:24 AM
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What the others have suggested is really good ideas. Remember, try not to look aggressive in any way, because then a horse will associate catching with hunting like in the wild. Never face the horse squarely and don't walk straight toward the horse either. Move at an angle, as it is less aggressive looking.

One thing that may work, but is not always possible, is to get a horse that is in the same field as your horse, and lead that horse towards the exit of the field. Make sure they are the only two horses in the field or it won't work. Maybe if she sees she is alone, she will feel inclined to follow because horses are very sociable animals and don't like being alone.

Another thing you could maybe try is to get her into a field alone where she can't see any other horses. Go into the fields with a book or something and sit where your horse will see you. Make it look like you are busy with something interesting. If she gets closer and is focussed on you, start to fiddle with the grass or twigs or something. When you see all her attention is on you, get up slowly and walk away from her and go sit in another location abit further from her. Repeat this until it is too irrestible to stay away and finally let her see what you are busy with (a treat or some food would come handy here). Slowly slip your arms or a lead rope around her neck and then you have her.

If you just go and catch her to do work with her, that may also be disencouraging her from letting you catch her. She thinks that if you catch her she has to work, so maybe if she runs away she will get out of it. Catch her and bring her from the field to feed her or groom her every now and then, something pleasant and then let her out again. She might even want to be caught.

But ultimately, in the end it boils down to trust. Stoeka, my first pony used to run away from me in the beginning because she thought I was just another lesson kid. But eventually she learnt to trust me and now she even walks up to me in the field.

Sorry for the long a little carried away. Good luck and let us know how it all goes.

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post #5 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 08:36 AM
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personally the chasing thing has never worked for me, i think i have to big of a pasture with too many horses that like to get in on it.

my horse was abused & his old owner [she claimed the people who had him before her abused him, but she was exactly nice either] didnt let him outside because they couldnt catch him.

i usually take my halter/leadrope & some treats. not make eye contact & walk towards their shoulder not their face. if he lifts his head up & looks at me i stop & look down, until he puts his head back down. this usually happens a few times. he will also walk around a bit as i get closer, i usually just stand & wait until he puts his head down again. ive been working a lot on it lately & he usually walks up to me now =]

also ive noticed he comes better if hes not really close to the other horses, he likes to play peek-a-boo as well, maybe its the same with your mare ?

you should also go out into the field sometimes & just give her a treat & walk away, this way she learns that you dont ALWAYS come out & work her & she will be more willing to go see you in the field =D

Gypsy & Scout <3
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein
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post #6 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 09:17 AM
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I try to halter my guys even if I'm just feeding them, that way they don't know if I'm going to work them or just feed them and turn them back out. I don't always halter if I'm in a hurry, but I try to do it at least 2-4 times a week. I also take a lead rope with me in the field, even if I don't use it.
When I started training my gelding he figured out that if the lead rope was with me he was going to have to work, so I had to start changing it up. I'll take it out there with me clip it on him and just throw it on his back, give him a treat, feed him, brush him, just touch him, and then unclip the lead and go back to the barn. At first he looked very confused as to say thats all she wanted, then after a few times they just thinks its the norm.
You've got a pattern, and your horse has figured it out.
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 09:43 AM
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You could also try going out there until she is paying attention to you, and then ignore her and keep walking away past her. My mom did this and her gelding started folloeing her to figure out what was going on. She also would give him a treat every once in a while to reinforce that he should enjoy being caught.

Curiosity is a useful tool with most horses.
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post #8 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 10:22 AM
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It is a very frustrating experience not to be able to catch your own horse. Lots of folks are going to give you tips as to what to do and one or two of the tips might work - try them all.

But at the end of the day - if your horse doesn't want to be caught then the animal does not want to work with you. Think about that situation.

The horse is motivated by fear, food, routine,sex, and security.
It has a long memory of good things and bad things.
It doesn't necessarily recognise you buy sight - it recognises you by the way you walk, the way you sound and the way you smell.
If you start waving your arms about, if you raise your voice and worse, if you start waving sticks or ropes about, then you've got no chance to catch it.

You, repeat you, have got to find the reason why that horse should come to you. We can only make some suggestions. You have to experiment. But it is going to take a lot of patience on your part. So don't get angry.

If over the longer term it does want to be with you - then there is with a young horse only one thing to do - find another horse. Because my guess would be that it won't want to work with you in other matters. Remember once you are on its back, then you have to trust the horse - instead of the horse having to trust you by allowing a head collar to be slipped over its head and neck.

In the meantime try food, jealousy, persistence. Even try leaving it out in bad weather. But catching the horse is only the beginning.

Sometimes there is a good reason to leave the halter on when the horse is out loose in the field but much depends on your circumstances. You have to weigh up the risk of the horse getting caught up.

It sounds intelligent this adversary of yours. It is playing with you. You got a severe test of mental power now.

How have other folks caught her?

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post #9 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 10:56 AM
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It's a 3rd level dressage horse so I'm assuming it's getting worked pretty extensively. I hate it when people say this, but rule out any pain issues and then make sure the horse isn't getting soured. Is it only caught, ridden and then put away? If that's the case it needs to be caught and groomed then turned back out on occassion, or caught and hand grazed. It can't be work-work-work.

Then... My thoughts are similar to the above, horse walks away, you let her, but don't let her stop. Keep her moving. She stops you walk towards her, she moves away let her but don't stop going at it until she stops and turns towards you and waits to be caught. I don't mean chase her with flailing arms, I mean continue towards her, if she trots away, let her but don't allow her to stop and rest until she stops to be caught. It will probably take 30 minutes to an hour the first few times but each time you get it, it will take less and less time to catch her.

But as I said before, make sure she's not soured.

"Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you
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post #10 of 15 Old 11-17-2009, 11:17 AM
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I agree with the idea of going out to her pasture and completely ignoring her. Horses by nature are curious and will come check you out eventually.

Then halter her, but stay is the pasture - give her her favorite treat, or if she has a special scratchy spot, scratch it for her.

You want it to be a really positive experience for her to come to you.
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