Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
Ha, ha, we've ALL been there.
This is how I solved the problem in the 1980's. I had a small herd of 6 horses and none were easily catchable. I fed them grain 1x/day, so I thought I might be able to catch one or two of the herd that were further down the pecking order. I did catch one horse, haltered him and led him outside of their turnout, tied just him up and fed him his grain. He was easily visible by the rest of the herd. I didn't grain any of the rest of them that day. When he'd finished I put him back in. NEXT day my herd leader was waiting at the gate to come out for "treats." I learned that they do EVERYTHING in their pecking order. Very soon, I would halter each horse over the gate, lead out, tie up and feed grain (in rubber buckets.) I would put them back in the same order. Each horse had to hold his head over the fence before I'd take him out, and after they ate I would cue them to go through the gate, turn and put their heads over the fence and wait to be released. It became a habit and I never had trouble catching those horses after that, even when I walked out in their turnout with them.
I still teach my horses this today. My 16'3hh gelding knows to wheel around my 13', 5' high gate to turnout, and he puts his head over the gate, lead loose, and waits for me to unbuckle his halter. Often he wants me to scratch his head, but I don't care if he runs off after this, but I want horses that I can catch, and I don't want a horse to trample me when I release them.
Julie Goodnight has a very good video using body language to help, too. She says that your horse is playing with you, and you have to break the cycle. It works, too.