Practicing Catching - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 11-06-2011, 10:21 AM Thread Starter
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Practicing Catching

First, to provide a bit of case history. I adopted a mustang yearling a little under a month ago, and have been working with him since on gentling and so on. He leads fairly well, longes and changes direction decently, and has started to allow me to touch him all over. The biggest challenge right now is catching him initially. I have to sort of corner him and use a stick to rub up his body until I can hook it under his chin and move in to catch hold of his halter. Once you've "caught" him and gotten into his space, he will stand and allow you to rub on him with or without holding on to the lead rope. I've even stood there and braided his mane without holding on to the lead.

So, I'm trying to practice leaving his space and coming back into it without having to use the stick, pick up the end of the rope he's dragging some of the time, or otherwise "cheating". I've been dropping the lead rope and walking away from him for varying periods of time, then walking back to him and talking to him as I approach and reach out to catch him again. When he allows me to come back, touch him, and take up the lead rope again, I give him a small treat. I stand calmly next to him until he's finished chewing his treat, then ask him to lead in a small pattern or allow me to rub him up and down his body, at which point I repeat the whole process. As he gets better, I want to snap and unsnap the lead rope on and off each time that I leave him and come back.

My biggest question is whether it is appropriate to give him a small treat each time he allows me to come back and catch him. Am I at risk for making him mouthy? I would reward him with a scratch on the neck or a kind word... but I'm afraid he still finds those things like being touched and talked to strange and not altogether pleasant. Is there any other advice for how I should work with him?
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post #2 of 24 Old 11-07-2011, 09:37 AM
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bump... ***

I think this is interesting.. anyone have any ideas
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post #3 of 24 Old 11-07-2011, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, I was wondering if this thread was just going to melt away without anything said.
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post #4 of 24 Old 11-07-2011, 09:59 AM
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haha I doubt it would melt away. :) I have no help for you as I never had to deal with such a thing. But I see your point with treats vs the touching. There definitely is someone here who will know what you should try.

Goodluck
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post #5 of 24 Old 11-07-2011, 10:18 AM
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whenever he either looks at you with both eyes and/or has his inside fore leg closer to you than his inside hind leg, take a step back and stop trying to catch him for a moment.

That's the simplified version. The long version takes hours to teach and even more hours to learn, so I won't go there.
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post #6 of 24 Old 11-07-2011, 10:39 AM Thread Starter
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Fortunately I'm willing to spend the hours it takes. Do you know of any resources that I can consult?
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post #7 of 24 Old 11-07-2011, 01:04 PM
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Many won't agree with this but I wouldn't leave a halter on him EVER. When a horse is growing it's pretty easy for them to develop a indentation where the halter is sitting all the time. I also think it's a sign of poor horsemanship. I would buy a bag of sweet feed and get him addicted to it. It probably won't take more than five handfulls. Once he is used to eating a little of the feed from a bucket then you can put your arm over his neck and halter him. Be careful not to get your face over his neck or head as he might spook a little and jerk his head up. It can sure ruin your day to get hit in the face with a horse head.

Sweet feed is not generally a great feed for a horse but you will give him so little that it won't make much difference and once he's comfortable with you getting close to him and catching him then the grain won't be necessary.
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There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #8 of 24 Old 11-08-2011, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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Honestly, without his halter being on him initially, I don't think we could have gotten close enough to gentle him down. He is getting to the point where we just might be able to do as you've suggested, however I fear that "sneaking up" and touching him while he's eating feed out of a bucket may result not only in his head snapping up, but him rearing back or bolting away.

I completely understand your concerns about the halter being left on however, and I agree entirely that it should not always be the case. The halter is loosely fitted enough that it should not cause any indentations or the like until we get to the point of putting it on and taking it off. He has actually been getting better and better at allowing me to approach him and catch him. Yesterday I walked up to him and got him without the need for any of the "tricks". We will work on the halter coming on and off next.
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post #9 of 24 Old 11-08-2011, 09:33 AM
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I never told you to sneak up on him. I would just use the grain as an incentive to get him to stay while you mess with him.

There's nothing like the Rockies in the springtime... Nothing like the freedom in the air... And there ain't nothing better than draggin calves to the fire and there's nothing like the smell of burning hair. -Brenn Hill
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post #10 of 24 Old 11-08-2011, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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I understand that I wouldn't be sneaking and you didn't advise that... but he might perceive that as being the case. I'll see if he'll let me get my hands on him while he's eating, but lately it seems that he prefers to be watching my every move to see for himself that I'm not about to do something freaky.
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