Teach a Horse to Come When Called
I have a 15 year old mare who is a little tricky to catch sometimes. This is mostly in the summer when its really nice out and they're back on pasture. She's still in the small paddock right now and I can catch her without fail every time. I really want to teach her to come when called so that when she does go out to pasture, it'll be less of a headache to catch her. I've started calling her when I go get her but she doesn't walk up to me until I get about 4 ft away, I think because she is the lowest on the pecking order and the more dominant mare will come over and try to nab some treats I carry. I think she knows I'm calling her because she raises her head up and looks directly at me and stares until I walk over. The only problem is, again, she won't walk over to me until I'm 4 ft away. Does anyone have any advice on how I can teach her to come on cue?:?
How is your relationship with the other horses in pasture? My guy is low in the pecking order too, but every other horse has learned that when I come into the pasture, I have NOTHING for them but the end of a lunge whip if they get in my space or my horse's space. My gelding has learned that when I am out there, he is 'protected' by me from the other horses, and I *always* have a cookie for him. He is very food motivated, so that helps, though I may have to up it to a bucket of grain with me when there's grass around and he's not so hungry for a little cookie. With something like 13 other horses turned out with my guy, there's always someone who wants to try to say hi, get a cookie, or run my guy off each week, but the attempts are pretty half-hearted nowadays as they know I won't allow it and am not afraid to enforce with my lungewhip (or rope, or hat, or keys, or rock from the ground) when they cross me. I have also taught my guy to 'come'mere' in a round pen, and then in the arena with cookies. Walk him off, ask him to 'stand' walk away, and they ask for 'come'mere' and reward when they do. I do it without cookies, using 'resting time' as the reward in the round pen, but find I have to give my guy a little more 'motivation' to want to hang out with me when there are other horses and food and wide open spaces elsewhere.
Tl;dr: two items 1) make sure the other horses know that they are to leave you and your horse alone 100% of the time when you go out and 2) make sure your horse gets something they want 100% of the time when you show up.
I do that to! She really gets picked on during feeding so I started chasing the other mare out of there. The mares out there with her are really pushy and will follow us when we're walking out of the pasture and they're always front and center when I'm giving my horse treats but I never give them any. I honestly havent been out there enough this semester (been really busy with college) but do you think if I just keep going out there enough and chasing the other horses away it'll make a difference and my horse will start coming to me? I'm also worried that the groups might get changed when they move out to the big pasture, do you think that would make a difference?
Don't allow them to walk with you. Don't allow them to even be near when you're giving treats. Imagine a 50 ft circle with you at its center and the only horse allowed in it is yours. From the sounds of it, the other horses are FAR too close for your girl to feel confident that she's being protected. Plus it's dangerous for you if there are too many horses jockeying for a position nearby, all it takes is one horse feeling like you're the weakest link and running you over to get away from a pushier mare.
The other horses at my barn see me come into the field and don't even bother trying to come over and say hi. 99% of the time they don't even walk towards me because they know it's futile and I will chase them back off. It sounds like the other horses your girl is out with still think they might be able to get treats or attention if they're pushy enough.
So yes, keep at it, but you need to be far more strict. Establish your boundaries and Do Not Allow them to be crossed unless you are inviting a horse into them deliberately. They have the whole pasture to be in, they don't need to be in your space.
ETA: It sounds like I am being mean to the other horses, but I promise, I am not. I can walk up to any of them, and they will stand quietly and let me approach and then happily get a scratch from me or cookies if I am feeling generous, but the key is that *I* go to them, they don't get to barge up to me. They all turn and watch me, hoping I'll want to say high and share some cookies, I think, but they know better than to get in my space uninvited. They don't run from me as if they're scared or anything, they just have learned that I don't like them in my space.
Both of mine come when called. I think they REALLY like human contact, and good things happen when they are caught. Brushing, loves, treats, and some days they only get brushed without having to work. Even work is generally kept pleasant or ended on a good note for them. I don't even have to be sneaky with the halter or "fake handful of goodies".
I guess you have to make them want to be caught and not think that caught= work.
I guess I just got lucky that my boy comes running even though I've never taken him treats lol. I agree with the above posts, I've worked at several barns and the things mentioned above help catch the lower on the totem pole horses
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I was just thinking of this yesterday.
I have a mare who is low on the pecking order, and has always been a pain in the rear to catch. Her old owners always just grabbed grain to catch her. Me, I will NEVER use grain/treats/hay to catch a horse. NEVER.
Did it take a long time doing it this way? Yes. Was it worth it? Totally.
I have a few tricks that I do.
1) Cow Method- This is what I first started doing. Get down low like in a athletic position and pretty much track your horse. If they go right you run right, but stay down in that position. If they run left you run left. Keep inching your way towards them each time. This method works easiest in a smaller pasture, but I've used it in big pastures.
2) Shoulders- This might not seem like a big deal at all but it is huge! Make sure you want yourself pointed at their shoulders in a way where you want to 'cut them off' like you do in lunging. I point my shoulders at the front of their shoulder. It depends on each horse where I point. The best way to figure out is by trying. Keep shifting your body around, stop and point your shoulders at them. Figure out what angle will they stop at.
3) This is one of the easiest things. When you get to your horse DO NOT I repeat DO NOT just put the halter on or throw a lead around their neck. The first thing you should do is rub them on their neck, praise, pet, etc.. THEN put your halter on or clip the lead on. And then praise again. This was the biggest mistake I was doing with my horses, after I started doing this they were a lot easier to catch.
4) Jealousy- This might not work for all. But the one mare I had mentioned in the beginning she would not care at all if you didn't work with her or not thats the type of horse she was. She isn't friendly, doesn't care if you pet her or not type of horse. Because I always worked with the TB first, then her filly, and then her she would get extremely jealous because I would not give her a bit of attention. In a few weeks time she would be walking up to me the moment I got into the pasture because she was getting jealous. So now I will go pet her and love her up before I go work with the others and then I will come back and grab her at the end. Might not work for all but it did for her. I literally would not even look at her or make any cue to her when I first went out to the pasture and this horse would rather care less about people. She did a 360 attitude change.
The only idea I can really think of, since she's so timid, is to not always catch her to bring her in, etc. Like aldebono said, make sure that going out to the pasture doesn't always mean work. I've seen horses who used to gallop over to the gate when called turned sour because coming in only meant they had to work.
I adopted a BLM mustang many years back. Talk about tough to catch! she could careless I existed.
I would focus on round pen to start & used techniques she already knew and did flawlessly.
My mare was very well trained to round pen work, she knew when I drop my shoulder away from her that meant I was asking her to come into me.
When I wanted to teach her to come when called I started this...
I would tossed a bird chirp in there, just when I dropped my shoulder for her to come into me like she already did.
repeat that 1000 times.... make it fun.
Change it up but I whistle cuz i can loud, you can say her name or anything you want as long as its consistent, the same tone and clear.
and you dont need treats.
I was slowly teaching her a new trick, come when called. She already came when I dropped my shoulder now im giving her a cue to come in.
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