new pony refuses to be caught - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 06-27-2009, 02:02 PM Thread Starter
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new pony refuses to be caught

I got the new shetland mare home yesterday with the warning she doesn't like to be caught but is easier caught with food.
Ha! Lies!
I spent an hour trying to catch the little heifer while Carolina chuckled into her alfalfa.

I'm of the school where a horse doesn't want to get caught you get out the lunge crop and make them work til they decide being caught is a better idea.

That worked with my other horses including Carolina who decided coming when she was called was happier times lol.

Not this bloody pony argh!


~CoCo 17hh 4 yo OTTB~
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post #2 of 23 Old 06-27-2009, 02:44 PM
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Are you walking into the field with a halter?
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post #3 of 23 Old 06-27-2009, 03:29 PM
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Ok, first, make sure you have a day without much to do.

Don't worry about chasing her, just annoy her. Carry a halter and bottle of water so you don't pass out and just walk after her. If she pins her ears or shows signs of aggression, give her a little extra push, but nothing crazy. Just keep following her until she stops, faces you, and gives you her attention. When she faces you, you stop. Just stand there. If she walks away or even breaks eye contact, walk up to her again. If she walks away, follow along. If she can keep her attention on you, then just stand there. Don't rush anything and don't try to sneak it on her. When she starts relaxing (dropping head below the withers, licking and chewing, yawning), approach her politely and invite her to acknowledge you (touch her nose to your hand). If you can pet her square between the eyes, move in and give her a scratch. When she seems comfortable with you there, then walk away, don't look back, and leave her alone.

You may not get to the point of touching her, if you can just get to the point where she is facing you and relaxed, then I would be satisfied and walk away and repeat the next day. I must warn you, I have known this to last up to 5 hours with horses that have learned all the tricks in the book. However, I have known horses that are tricked into catching for years and it just gets harder every time. This solution solves catching problems. I've used it on aggressive horses, feral horses, and horses that have just learned to stay away from people. It can take a while to make it solid, but once "catching" is solid everything else comes a lot easier. When I say catching, I don't mean putting on a halter, I mean having a horse approach you to be haltered. This isn't out of fear of being chased, but out of respect for your leadership and actually wanting to work with you.

Some will say that leaving without catching the horse will cause more problems, to which I disagree. Leaving the horse with the horse running like mad away from you will cause problems, but leaving a calm, relaxed, attentive horse will only lead you in a good direction, whether the halter is on them or not.
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post #4 of 23 Old 06-27-2009, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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No I'm not walking into the field with a halter.

Flitter - I've also heard of the method where you go in the field and ignore them. I've done that a few times and she's got closer to me when I completely ginore her and just mess with Carolina.

Geez. I can't ever have an animal without issues lol.

~CoCo 17hh 4 yo OTTB~
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post #5 of 23 Old 06-27-2009, 06:50 PM
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I have a pony that is the EXACT same way. She never seems to tire of the I'm going to work you to death or you can stop and let me catch you. I found the best way to deal with her is to get her to come into the stall to catch her with food and then halter her.She will still try to evade but it is a smaller space and she gives up quicker. Sometimes I will let her eat all of the treat sometimes I get her in there and immediatly put on the halter and then when I am done let her eat. I don't want her to equate going into the stall with only being caught. Thsi way she never knows what she is going to get. I don't know about you but I don't want to chase a stubborn pony around in 102 degree weather. Maybe when it is cooler I will work with her on being caught in the pasture but she also has a foal at her side now so I can't run her to catch her anyway. i don't want baby learning her bad habits.
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post #6 of 23 Old 06-27-2009, 08:35 PM
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I had this once when I got my horse, he went through a period of trying me out.
Lucky I had just watched a natural horse trainer sorting out the same problem with another horse who had been sent to her.
My horse turned away from me so I chased him, off he went in a canter. i then stood with the other horses in the field. Horses hate being isolated from the group. Every time he came near me and the group I chased him again, flicking the halter and rope at him. It ended up in a game of round up. He started chewing ect and dropping his head and facing me. I then invited him to join me and the group. He walked straight up to me and I put his head collar on. He has not done it since.
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post #7 of 23 Old 06-28-2009, 12:28 AM
Green Broke
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1 word, FOOD! Try to figure out what she likes best and USE it! Give her treats/feed even if you have to chase her around for 30 minutes. You want to reward her for being caught, period. Once you do catch her, praise her, groom her, walk her around, then turn her back loose. Halter her to feed her grain, treats, alfalfa, anything she "likes". Have other people halter her, walk a couple circles, give her treats, then let her go. Only work or ride 1 out of 3 times you catch her. You do NOT want her to equate the halter with only hard work and no fun.

If she's this hard to catch, then others have tried punishment and work, and it's had the opposite effect... It's time to try rewards, bribery, and just plain kissin' up to her!
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post #8 of 23 Old 06-28-2009, 01:15 AM
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I dont agree with using food or treats to catch them,I have done what others say, go out follow the horse around and when he comes to you pet him then I will go see the other horses, then walk away.I have had success with that. I also go out to the pasture very often (my horses arent boarded) just to make sure they have water and sit and talk to them, pet them,feed treats, so everytime I go out there they arent expecting to work everytime, if you just go out to work them thats what their going to think everytime they see you, oh boy its time to work....Well anyone that goes out to try to catch my arabian he runs and they can chase him all day long, I just sit there watching them(funny), I wait til they say "does he do this all the time?" I say no and walk out to the pasture call his name and just slowly walk up to him pet him and take his halter or put one on him.

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post #9 of 23 Old 06-28-2009, 07:26 AM
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I wasn't saying to ignore her at all. I was saying to push her along, not in a crazy, out of control way, but in a way that you are proving your ability to be a leader in which you are in control of the situation and not losing your temper. In fact, it is completely opposite of ignoring. When I am teaching a horse to catch me, I never take my eyes off of them.

As far as food goes, I am usually one that is never a big treat thrower, but I have used it for some hard to catch horses that are having a problem unlocking their feet to approach me. I don't follow them with the treat saying "please come I have a cookie". I usually carry it in my pocket until the horse has reached the point where I want them to start approaching me. The horse should be calm, quiet, relaxed, and focused completely on you before any mention of treat ever comes in the picture. Some horses take to this immediately when you want them to come to you, some get stuck. I may do the exercise several times with one horse to teach it to be caught, and they may get a treat each time and then I walk away. Always carry a halter, don't try to trick the horse. However, you don't have to use the halter to make it a successful session.

I did a catching demo for a kids camp last week with a hard to catch pony. I wasn't sure if the kids would get bored out of their minds, but I called out the signs in the horse I was looking for as I did the exercise as the kids stood under an oak tree in the paddock with me. This particular pony does lessons and is tollerant, but usually runs at the sight of a kid. The pony was following me like a puppy dog in about 10 minutes, and what surprised me is the cranky pony followed me right back and mingled politely with the "herd of kids". I was carrying a halter, but I didn't put it on her that time, she followed like I was leading her anyway.

If you are the kind of leader that the horse would feel secure with, then they will follow you.
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post #10 of 23 Old 06-28-2009, 07:38 AM
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As an owner and breeder of shetland ponies I will warn you that they are so smart its just as easy to teach them something bad as good.

First we never let a new horse out in the pasture when they first arrive. The quickest most efficient way is to stall them (and this should be done because of quarantine) We have a stall that opens to a round pen. For the first week the horse only interacts with me. They get feed only when they turn and face me in the stall. Then we gradually start working in the round pen on being caught, manners etc. Only when the horse has bonded to me and is able to be caught are they let out with the herd. (and the quarantine period is over) They learn really quick that good things happen when I appear such as feed, water, etc.

Remember every time a horse is moved they are stressed. A lot of times you wont see their real personality for a month.
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