Pony behavior issues -- catching
 
 

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Pony behavior issues -- catching

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  • Problems catching pony
  • Pony behaviors

 
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    04-01-2011, 07:49 PM
  #1
Teen Forum Moderator
Pony behavior issues -- catching

Alrighty everyone! Meet Patches, a 11 year old welsh/miniature horse mix gelding.



As you can see, Patches is boarderline obese, and could stand to lose a good thirty pounds or so to be at a good weight. To do this, ofcourse- he really needs to EXERCISE! Ofcourse, that sounds easy enough- he just needs someone to work him every week. However, Patches has a problem, and that is the fact that he is almost impossible to catch.

Patches is a fairly strange horse. Way back when, he used to be a very nice saddle pony (he's around 10.3 hands height, and so can carry a child very easily) and was even used for therapy at one point. However, they quit using him because he was slightly high strung with the therapy kids, and set him out in a large (probably around 8 acre) pasture with six other geldings and has since then been a pasture ornament. This was about three years ago, and he has gained an unhealthy amount of weight in this time. Last fall I spent a few weeks working with him, and he was such a sweety, but I then had to stop.

I want to work with him again this summer and hopefully get him back into shape for lessons by the fall, but there is the problem of not being able to catch him! I've tried everything from bribing him with carrots (bad idea, I know) to approaching him with my body relaxed, to shadowing him. The problem is, he's in a wooded pasture that is FAR too large for me to follow him around in. He can easily just force his way into the bushes where I can't get him and rest while I'm trying to get in- and be ready to run again once I get him out! I've tried leading his buddies out so that he'll follow, chasing him, running him into a chute....everything! Even if I do suceed in getting close to him, he'll bolt the second I try to touch him- halter or no halter! I've tried just going out there to pet and love on him as well as going in with the halter, it just doesnt work! He is roped and dragged in to be shod every month or two, but that's the only way to get him in, it seems. There have been one or two times that I've gotten near enough to pet his face, but the second I try to touch his neck, he spins, kicks at me, and runs. It's not out of fear either. I know that he's playing and having fun because he'll only run far enough for me to not touch him, the turn and sort of 'grin' at me.

Once he's caught though, you can't find a sweeter, more better tempered horse. He's a little girthy but otherwise he's fantastic. What do I do? Does anyone have an idea? I can always get him roped, but I hate to do that. Any suggestions?
     
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    04-01-2011, 08:28 PM
  #2
Yearling
Well, a rather easy solution would be just to rope him. But I guess you probably wouldn't want to have to do that EVERY time. And if you just rope him that doesn't teach him to come to you, it just shows that sooner or later they will be caught, so they'll try harder not to be.

With my horse Sadie I always had problems with catching her in the begining. (Now she is practically up my butt and sometimes "accidently" hit me with her face if she sees something interesting when standing next to me.) I would chase her into our paddock, or persuade her with some grain to get there. And trust me, chasing her was no picnic. It wasn't the herding in general, because I'm pretty much like a human Border Collie, but treking through swamp guck is never pleasent. Especially when the horses go as far out as they can into the swamp. -.-

But once you get him into a smaller area, if he does not let you walk up and get him, then make him circle around at a trot for a few minutes, then stop and try to walk up to him again. If he doesn't let you, make him circle for a few more minutes. That is what I did and sooner or later she figured out that I was a good thing. Once in a while I'd take her out just to graze (on her break days). Winter is also a great time to limit feeding to cut back on weight. I managed to cut Sadie's weight down by getting her a grazing muzzle for summer, but the limited food in the winter slimmed her down quite a bit. She gets fed plenty much, but now it's a healthy ammount. ^^

But once you can catch him, give him some rest days when you come, and some excersize days. Maybe even give him treats that he doesn't get anywhere else. Find something he likes to do. And if you have limited time with him, maybe just take him out to graze for a few minutes, let him back out, then take him out again to train. Or after rigorous training let him graze.

Sorry if I don't make sense, I'm tired.
     
    04-01-2011, 10:37 PM
  #3
Foal
If you've heard of Pat parrelli, He has a good "game" it's called the catching game... it works good. Now I cannot follow some of his other "games" but this one works great... also round pen work teach him that it's easier to stop and look at you, and or come to you.. granted it might not be wise to turn him out in a huge pasture untill you've mastered the smaller places.. I've used both methods ( which are fairly the same) and had great luck. The last horse I had to do this with finally got to were I could put him in an acre pen get his attention and he'd stand for m e to come catch him.. he wouldn't come to me,but he wouldn't run either and he was known for running. Unfortunally he got sold before I could perfect him. But try it and see what you think. I've had tons of success with it.
     
    04-02-2011, 12:01 AM
  #4
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by jwells84    
If you've heard of Pat parrelli, He has a good "game" it's called the catching game... it works good. Now I cannot follow some of his other "games" but this one works great... also round pen work teach him that it's easier to stop and look at you, and or come to you.. granted it might not be wise to turn him out in a huge pasture untill you've mastered the smaller places.. I've used both methods ( which are fairly the same) and had great luck. The last horse I had to do this with finally got to were I could put him in an acre pen get his attention and he'd stand for m e to come catch him.. he wouldn't come to me,but he wouldn't run either and he was known for running. Unfortunally he got sold before I could perfect him. But try it and see what you think. I've had tons of success with it.

This is also pretty much what I do, aswell. It does work, but I've never really been able to figure out how to get a horse to do that before it is trained to lunge. (Hadn't really had the patient with Sadie, either. At the time I didn't really like her all that much.) I remember my trainer teaching my first horse one of the first few days training how to do that. We had him in an indoor arena, and he was supposed to turn towards us each time we asked him to change directions.. If he turned his butt towards us we'd make him run. Being the dork he is he'd go all out gallop, and it seemed like he covered the whole arena in a few strides. But each time he made his turns towards us we let him be. We did not flick the whip at him so he had the choice to keep going or stop. It took him a wihle to figure it out, and he'd be dripping in sweat. But by the third session it took only five minutes to realize the pattern in the excersize.

Now I can lunge him and point at his butt and he'll turn and face me. (From Parelli training, but the same basic lesson as when he was first being trained.) Both of my horses will come right up to me, but I'm sure come summer Sadie will boycott me again considering I have to put on the horrid grazing muzzle.
     
    04-02-2011, 12:04 AM
  #5
Weanling
This might sound weird but try walking away from him(don't carry any ropes with you at this point). With different horses, that sometimes works. Bring out a bucket of oats and shake it, then walk away and see if he follows. Also, just go sit in the field with a bucket of oats and shake it a bit(because it makes noise when you shake it and they know it's grain). Wait for him to come up and eat some. If he does come up to you(don't carry any ropes with you), let him eat some and then get up, walk about 10 ft away, sit down again and offer the grain again until he follows you around and lets you pet his forhead and then later his neck.Also get him to allow you to pull(gently) on his mane and put your hands around your neck. After doing that a bit, bring a lead rope and tie it around your waste so he doesn't notice it. After he has followed you to a few different locations, put the rope beside the bucket. Then rub the rope against him. Move to a different location and then just hang the rope over his neck. Then, later(it could be after a few days of doing this. All of this could take multiple sessions), loop the rope around his neck,take it off and move to a different location. Once you are able to loop the rope around his neck you should be able to halter him. Once you have the halter on, do the same thing while leading him(yes, it will look funny). You don't want to make him think that being haltered means instantly leaving and going to work. So on some days you should just go and give him and handful of oats, if he won't let you catch him then maybe that means sitting down with a bucket. When you sit down, he is less likely to think you are going to catch him. When you are able to catch him, on some days you should just catch him, take him out of his pen, give him a treat, and put him back.

Try to give him minimal grain because he is so overweight. I'm not saying this is how you catch a horse, this is just an idea.
     
    04-02-2011, 12:15 AM
  #6
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by ButtInTheDirt    
This is also pretty much what I do, aswell. It does work, but I've never really been able to figure out how to get a horse to do that before it is trained to lunge. (Hadn't really had the patient with Sadie, either. At the time I didn't really like her all that much.) I remember my trainer teaching my first horse one of the first few days training how to do that. We had him in an indoor arena, and he was supposed to turn towards us each time we asked him to change directions.. If he turned his butt towards us we'd make him run. Being the dork he is he'd go all out gallop, and it seemed like he covered the whole arena in a few strides. But each time he made his turns towards us we let him be. We did not flick the whip at him so he had the choice to keep going or stop. It took him a wihle to figure it out, and he'd be dripping in sweat. But by the third session it took only five minutes to realize the pattern in the excersize.

Now I can lunge him and point at his butt and he'll turn and face me. (From Parelli training, but the same basic lesson as when he was first being trained.) Both of my horses will come right up to me, but I'm sure come summer Sadie will boycott me again considering I have to put on the horrid grazing muzzle.
You do need to teach him to lunge first(if he doesn't know how) you can start on a rope them move to free lunging in a round pen. Shouldn't take too long for the horse to figure out to move around you... then start the turning in.
     
    04-02-2011, 12:21 AM
  #7
Weanling
I'm actually not a big fan of the turning in. My horse was broke by a western trainer before I owned him and that turning turned into something he would do and then bolt and take off. I've lunged many horses that do that and when they don't want to go, they turn and face you and then they sidestep and backup if you ask them to go on the circle(I know how to ask this too). If he turns his butt towards you, move to one side of him so the rope is against him and then pull him around and voila, he's already on a circle. Getting a horse to stop and look at you doesn't teach them to follow you. Teaching him to follow you happens with body language and a loose rope.
     
    04-02-2011, 12:37 AM
  #8
Foal
SP. I understand the turn in, then bolt and take off problem...If you are in a round pen or any pen really then just let him take off, and push him hard. Then ask again. He WILL get to where he doesn't want to bolt and take off. I do agree body launguage has a lot to do with any of it... the bolting is a lack of repect from the horse to the rider, or maybe that the horse just wants to play either way Good communnication counts 100%.
     
    04-02-2011, 12:51 AM
  #9
Weanling
Jwells84 I understand what you are saying. The bolting problem was fixed. It was also the effect of a second bad trainer who made my horse scared crapless of whips. In this case, the bolting wasn't a lack of respect, it was out of fear. My horse had been forced to submit and oppressed way too much with ropes, whips and 2 by 4s. He got to the point where he couldn't take anything and his only escape was to go through the pain and run. This horse will literally run until he can't, I mean literally. Tiring him out and fighting him would not help any. It would just get him farther and farther away from success. I feel sick talking about it since I hired this trainer. I feel sooooo bad for my horse, I feel so bad for any horse that is abused. I honestly cannot stand miscommunication especially when people say it is the horse's fault. In truth, nothing is the horse's fault. Absolutely nothing.

This pony won't be able to take off if you where gloves but the turning might cause miscommunications in the future. Use body language and please be patient. Remember, to have trust there must be mutual respect in a relationship even if you are the leader. Everything starts with body language, then you build off of that because that is when you have communication and understanding. Without that you will go nowhere. To me, this pony sounds like he feels misunderstood. It sounds like there is a communication barrier. Using other people's methods (as people have suggested parelli) won't work unless you can properly communicate to the pony. These aren't machines, poking a whip one way and pulling the rope another doesn't mean you will always get the same result.
     
    04-02-2011, 01:00 AM
  #10
Green Broke
I think this is kind of similar to what other people are talking about. I've heard a way where you start walking towards the horse and the moment they look at you and stand still you back off a bit. When they look away or walk off you follow and get in front of their drive line so they should end up facing you and repeat the above. The more you do it the closer you can get. Then when you are close enough and they are still standing there quietly you touch them on the neck or whatever then back off and take slow steps until you have caught them. Or even practise without actually trying to catch the horse. This might take a awhile until you can just walk up to them or even they just walk to you. I hope that made sense but I found it to be quite effective even with my hard to catch mare. I'm not sure if you would want to start off in a smaller pen first.
     

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