Hard to catch gelding with new attitude!!
I will try to keep this short but would like to give a little background info.
I have a 5 year old quarter horse gelding that I fell inlove with when he was 2. Starting riding him at 2 1/2 and kept him at a friend's barn where he was the low man in the field. His only friends were the elderly gelding and the pony. He "had" a very passive attitude and never put up a fight with another horse, rather he would avoid them and come running to me when I would come out to the field.
A year ago in October I brought him home to my house where we have 2 separate 5 acre pastures. I had him pastured alone for 6 months before we got my husband a horse. He could interact with other horses though from across the fence. I would say about 3 months after bringing him home he started to get hard to catch. Not terrible but wouldn't let me walk up to me right away as I did before. This has progressively gotten much worse....
My husband’s horse and him have been together now for a year and my gelding has become the boss horse. They get along very well; in fact they have a morning routine of running around and chasing each other, playing and just being horses. My gelding (Moses) does have his bluff up on the other gelding (Zip). He can run him off from his grain and push him around if he chooses. Over a year's period of time my horse has completely changed! It is not only frustrating but starting to become heartbreaking to me, as I have had horses all my life but never one like this.
To get to the point he is very hard to catch. If he is in the field with the other gelding he will hide behind him, refusing to let me catch him. Sometimes he will also push Zip and make him run around the field and use him as a shield between me and him. Simple fix you would think would be to separate them.....doesn't make any difference. If I separate them, Mo is still just as hard to catch.
I have tried the "chasing" method, for lack of a better word but I stopped after a few weeks ago because I was getting the impression I was making him fearful. Moses was broke by a man that was pretty rough on him. He does not respond well to harsh training, rather gentle handling and taking my time gets me better responses with him. For the past week I have been trying a method I have heard about from someone else where I walk around with him until he decides on his own to turn to me and chooses to be "caught" The first night I did this it took 45 minutes for him to give up, the next night 30 minutes and the night after that 20. I have haltered him each time, walked him around the field, then let him go and leave the field.
I feel like I am making some progress up still not seeing what I would like to. My hang up on all of this is that I am very good to this horse. I do not overwork him, nor do I only get him out to ride or work him. My husband mainly do some trail riding with our neighbors and I occasionally take him down the road to a local arena to work on his leads and collecting with some occasional jumping as well.
I guess my biggest question is am I doing the right thing? What is the best method to reconnect with him, as I feel I have lost this in the past year for some reason? I don't feel like I have is respect anymore and have tried every trick and training method I know and am becoming very discouraged. Of all the horses I have owned, Moses has been my favorite (up until the past year). He will be 6 next month and I have ridden him since he was 2 1/2. The only big difference I can think of is that I do not get to ride him as often in the winter as I did when he was kept out at my friend’s barn because I do not have an indoor riding arena.
Not too long ago he jumped the fence and got in with the neighbors horses. They did not want him in there and were chasing him and picking on him. As soon as he saw me he ran right over, dropped his head as a way of saying "get me out of here!" and let me halter him without a fuss. This is the old Mo I have always know. But I do not get this attitude on a daily basis.
Sorry for this being so long, this issue has been really wearing on me. We are starting to do some riding again now that it is nice but I want to feel more confident again, in having his respect. Biggest thing, I want to do whatever I need to do to make him an easy to catch horse again.
Are these horses loose in the pasture when they eat?
I had a little gelding that thought about getting hard to catch. I started catching him to feed him. No bribery .. no treats until the halter was on and buckled .. period..... No catchy .. no eaty ... it was a PITA for about 3 days. Once it clicked with him, he would meet me at the gate shoving his face in the halter.
He got no food, no treats, no NOTHING until his face was in the halter..
My horses are on nice green pastures and both are easy keepers so they do not get fed grain daily. Really the only time they get grain is in the winter when it is really cold.
I have learned to give him no treats until I catch him because before he would get one from him then run away.
Problem still is that he could care less about the treats most of the time. I can get my other gelding treats and if he sees a halter and lead rope he won't even act interested.
He acts like he wants nothing to do with me.
I use to hide the halter from him and "trick" him but this last week I have decided I am sick of doing that plus he is a smart booger and he knows it is behind my back. This week I have let him see the halter and he has to choose on his own to finally be caught. More than the issue of not being able to catch him I get the impression he doesn't want to be around him nor be as submissive as he was before. Not in a dangerous way just an annoying teenager way. Ugh!!
It sounds like he wants to hang out with you when he is the less dominant horse and he does not want to hang out with you when he is the dominant horse... hmmmm, I think he does not see you as a leader! You are good enough when he is in trouble but not when he is in charge... he is playing you when with your other horse. No matter what his past is, you do not help the horse or yourself if you are not firm, strong and in charge! I am not talking about beeing agressive but show him that he has to respect you and that you are the herd leader. I think once he understands that the catching will be just one of the things that will improve...
Thank you for the advice. This is exactly how I feel!!! I am not passive with him, as I never left him show me attitude without getting on to him. When he is playing these games with me and chooses to turn his butt to me and walk away, I make him run way. (Slap him on the butt with my lead rope) Sometimes he will pin his ears and show some attitude and all I have to do is clap my hands and raise my voice at him and he perks right up. He definitely know what is right and what is wrong. The new kick with testing me every day is new and is getting old! Anything you know of that I am doing wrong? He has changed from a loving horse to acting like a mare with an attitude problem. Err if I wanted a mare I would get one.
He doesn't see why he should let you catch him. It means work. Before, work was worth it because it meant getting away from other bullies. Could you catch him and just groom him several times, paying attention to the spots he likes getting scratched with the brushes? Make it so he looks forward to you coming out? (You could start out by catching and just grooming the other horse, and talking to the other horse like he was the most wonderful horse in the world. My horse would get jealous and beg me to pay attention to him!)
Chasing him around the pasture? That's prolly not the best thing to do if you want to catch him lol, the horse I ride can be hard to catch sometimes, he always tries to pin his ears and trot away, but what I do is stand at his eye while he's trying to walk away and when he stops I stop and take the pressure away. It took awhile but eventually he stopped running away from me.
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He's got your number and that you give up. What I'd like you to do when you enter the field is to circle way around until you are behind him. Try not to look at him just yet. When you are lined up directly behind, begin to approach, before you get within kicking distance, if he hasn't move, move him as tho shooing chickens with as little energy as possible. You want him to move, not hightail for the far reaches. Walk to the spot where he was at and stand there about 15 seconds, then circle him again. You are mimicing a dominant horse and telling him I'm eating there. As you continue to circle him he will begin to make it harder as he will want to keep both eyes on you. Good. If he will stand and face you, good. If he turns his head to his right, turn your to your right. This simple movement will draw him back. If he turns and starts to walk away, you must immediately do it also so he thinks it was your idea. As soon as he stops, begin your circle again. Now he should be getting uncomfortable with this. This time when he stands and you must have both eyes, slump your shoulders a little and approach with your arm extended a bit and offer the back of your knuckles. If he offers his nose, don't go the last inch, he comes to you. When he does, back up three or four steps, turn your back to him and check out the scenery. This releases the pressure on him. This is a good time to leave him alone if you must. Repeat the entire exercise the next time. He may want to greet you much sooner than before or even follow you as you step back and turn away. You are establishing your authority over him and most horses are happy to give up leadership as it's a big job. When you enter the pasture, always have your lead rope and halter hanging in your left elbow in plain sight. When you do get him haltered, bring him out, offer a little feed, do some grooming and put him away. I did this 5 times one day and the next morning the horse was at the gate hollering for me.
Piglet - that is the thing...I get him out more and groom him or let him eat grass than I do to work him. That is what is so confusing to me. I love spending time with my horses just as much or more than do riding. I go out alot and just hang out with them in the fields or get them out to bath them and groom him. This is why I don't think he is associating me catching him with work...yet he wants nothing to do with him. I can't help but think it is somethign I did because he wasn't like this the first 2 years I owed him.
Louie - I have had alot of people tell me about the method of making them run until they decided coming to you is better than running around. "It is more work to run away from me than it is to just let you catch me"
I have had hard to catch horses and been able to work around it...catching them in 5 minutes or so....every trick I have ever been taught does not work with him. Walking out to the field and ignoring him, letting him walk up to me, walking close to him but not making eye contact and having him follow me, standing in front of him and not letting him switch directions or go around me....none of this works.
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