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?