Can't get the halter on her...
So about a week ago I bought a pony for my boys that is "hard to catch". I assumed (and you know what happens when you assume things) that it was just the getting close to her part. That isn't the problem. I can come up to her scratch and love her but the second I try and put the halter on she is gone. She takes off if she even sees a halter or a lead rope for that matter. Treats dont help, feed doesnt help, tricking her doesn't work...the only way to catch her is in a small confined space like a stall. Right now my goal is just to get a halter on her so that when I do come up to her all I have to do is just rub on her and grab the halter until I have more time to work with her or send her to a trainer. I read all of the ideas in the below thread on the hard to catch horse...but nothing really addresses getting the halter on. I can't even geta rope around her neck to keep her still to get the halter on. She was fairly easy to catch in the stall when we went to see her before buying her and the lady said it would probably be best to catch her in a small space...i should have known.
The next time you can catch the pony in the stall I suggest you try rubbing it all over with the halter and lead. (rope halter only) Kind of like a brush. This way she will see that it can be a nice thing as well as just something to grab hold of her with.
This can take a lot of time and patience and you need to not "do anything" else with her except make her feel good, resist the temptation to just have a quick ride,bath,etc because you finally got hold of her. Just give her a rub, then leave her alone.
By leaving the halter on a lot of horses will get even more frightened with the snatch and grab thing in the paddock and you might end up with a dislocated shoulder.
Ponies that are hard to catch are not automatically fixed by the trainer. Very often they will respect the trainers wishes but be exactly the same when you get them home if you are not up to the same standard or speak the same language. All depends whether it is fear based or just a smarty pants pony.
It sounds like this pony has had a bad experience with a halter. Whether it be someone putting in on her rough to always being worked hard or made to do something she did not like when she was caught. Maybe the people were rough on her when leading her around. You say you can walk up and pet her without her running away so that is just what I would do. I am guessing you have not owned her very long and she is still adjusting to her new home. I have had a pony like this and she was an abuse case that the guy had beat around on her head and she thought eveything was going to kill her when it was by her face. I would get her into a small area, not necesarily a stall, but maybe a small pasture or paddock and go up and just pet her and brush her. Spend some quality time with her and let her get to know you are not so bad. When you know that she will not run away from just you without a halter, then try and take a halter and lead rope with you and if she runs away just stick with her as much as you can. When she stops, and eventually she will stop running away from the halter, try to just rub it on her. If you just get a quick touch and she takes off again, then that is progress. Don't just run up and try to stuff it on her head, let her see that the halter is not always just going to be stuck on and her drug around. Do it everyday and each time try to work your way up to getting it on her head, if she is uncomfortable with what you are doing, then stick with it until she relaxes and do not just move on. Once she realizes you are not going to give up and that the halter is not a pony eating monster she should start letting you put it on her. When you get to being able to halter her, just put it on, leave it on for a few minutes and let her go again. It will confuse her as she will never know what to expect after several sessions with halter on and off. Maybe on the first day, slip it on her nose and then take it right back off without buckling it. Day two try to buckle it and then take it off. Day 3 try to walk a little and then take it off. Day 4 maybe just put it on brush her and take it off. If you can, try to do it several times a day and each time do something different, brush her one time, walk a little the next, then just put it on and take it right back off again.
Getting her into a smaller paddock is the main goal because if you have a halter and leadrope and she sees you, runs away but cannot get so far away that you are not visible, she will figure out that the halter and lead rope is not leaving her. If she runs, walk after her with a determined thought of getting that halter on her, or at least touching her with it. Do not run and chase her, but walk and follow her wherever she goes. This is another one of those habits that is time consuming to break. You will most likely not see results for the first few days and it will be aggravating to go after her when she runs. It will take a lot of time and patience. I do happen to think that maybe someone who could work with her getting that halter on several times a day would help in this situation and that she would not only respond to the trainer.
Sorry if that was kind of confusing it is 1AM and I am half asleep. If you have any questions you can PM me and I will be more than happy to help you out as much as I can.
See, I'm just the opposite, I'd get her into a small space, love on her rub her, slip the lead rope over her neck and work my way up to getting the rope over her poll, rubbing and talking sweetly all the while, Once the lead rope is over the poll, I'd make a quick twist to it and slip it over her nose like a war bridle. I'd then grab the halter and slip it on as quickly and easily as I could.
*whew* Hard part over. Give her more love and maybe feed her and let her go with the halter on.
THEN, I'd go and catch her by the halter and go through all the steps of Catch, Love, Release ( I'd work on getting her used to a lead rope over her neck at this time too). Once she's easy to catch, I'd take that halter off and work on catching her and haltering her. Then let her go. Sounds like every time she had a halter on she had to work, You're going to have to build a bond with her so she knows you're not going to work that little pony tail off of her.
ETA- I would just do it this way because that's what she's used to. Eventually horses like this decide they're caught and quit fighting. *This isn't the way I'd like it to go but it may be your only avenue at this moment*
Got any pics???? ( I'm a closet pony lover :wink: )
I agree with what dumas said about how to go about doing it as it is similiar to theway I would, I just do not like the stall idea depending on how big of a pony this is because small spaces and a scared horse=accident waiting to happen in my eyes. It all depends on what you are comfortable with and what kind of a reaction the pony has when you try to stick the halter on her when she wants to run away. I figure the small paddock, no bigger than maybe 20x20, gives the chance for the pony to run away without her freaking out and hurting someone like if in a 12x12 or smaller stall.
OK, I'll add another egg to the pot... I would start by putting her in a small paddock / big yard. This is not to corner her & force her, but to allow her free movement without being too time consuming & tiring for you! Repetition is a huge key to training, so unfortunately, it won't be anything like solid after only a session or 2. I presonally like to keep an 'uncatchable' in a small paddock for a week or so & do a few sessions a day, before letting them out into a bigger area.
I do not bother even trying to get a halter on a horse like this, until I've first gained their confidence, with me & my 'toys'. It's not really about the halter, it's what she expects you to do with it. Bodylanguage is a big part of it with horses. Most people are very goal oriented in their behaviour and this comes out in their bodylanguage. It's very good at turning horses off!
You see people all the time with nice soft expressions, until they want to catch their horse, when they become focussed & assertive. The horse is repelled and finds leaving relieves the pressure. Most of the time when wanting to encourage a horse, you need to use 'soft' bodylanguage, not direct, focussed. Use your bodylanguage consciously & appropriately to make the Right things easy & the Wrong things harder.
Now, the horse loose in the paddock, halter & lead in hand, I call the horse & signal it to come. If it comes, or even looks my way, I will visibly relax & maybe look down, away, even turn & walk away, depending on the horse & whether it's frightened or anything. I will repeat this over, until the horse comes to me. I will hold the lead out to it, but the instant it looks, or hopefully reaches out to sniff it, I lower it & offer a treat or such. Then I will turn & walk away, repeat the process.
Only once the horse is reliably & confidently approaching me & sniffing the halter will I attempt to touch them on the shoulder with it. Once they're confident about that, I will put the lead over their neck. When I first do this, I'll give a treat as I remove the rope & walk away. When they're confident & keen about this, only then will I ask them to put their nose in it... before treats or doing something nice for them & taking it off again.
So that's all there is to it.... pretty much....<TIC>. But often things aren't quite that easy. When you call the horse and it ignores you, or worse, turns her rump & walks away.... THAT is the time you use that focussed bodylanguage & get after the horse. Don't run, just walk steadily. I like to focus on the horse's rump, because that's the bit I want moved away from me. I also like to swing the rope at their rump for added emphasis and also to teach them to yield to & not fear it.
As long as she's moving away, keep the pressure up. The *instant* she stops, turns, looks at you... even if she only hesitates or puts one ear on you to start with, drop that bodylanguage & look/walk away. Repeat this process until she realises that all she has to do is face you / come to you, to get you to stop pushing her.
Thank you for all of your advice! I finally got her into a stall ( I had to leave feed in there and go inside the house until she went in and then go and close the doors) Anyway she is easy to catch in the stall. I have left her halter on for now. I will continue with the tips that yall have given me. Thank you so much. This isnt a great pic but it is the only one I have right now.
Oooo shes purdy!
good advise from everyone. Don't loose hope, patience and repetition will bring her around. My mare was the same way, ran when she saw me coming with a rope. By doing the things mentioned above, ie rubbing with the rope and halter, putting on the halter, loving her up and letting her go etc. she finally came around.
Chose a plan and do it as often as you can. Every day, even several times a day work best.
*Squeee! A Poooony* Ahem... I mean, that's a good looking pony you have there. I love the dapples!!! :lol:
Congrats on the catch, Good luck!!!
The catch-and-let-go type of approaches I agree are good ways to build trust. I've also tried the body language thing, and it does work. One other thing I'd suggest is not automatically going for her head when you approach her. Try standing at her shoulder, facing her rump, and just scratching her withers. This is how another horse would position themselves for mutual witherscratching, and a lot of horses find this relaxing.
Don't give up, and good luck!
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