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Wildfire89 06-28-2013 08:32 PM

New horse is hard to catch..
I got my horse, Luka, 8 days ago. The first 2 times I went to get him out he let me walk right up to him. The past 2 times tho he has ran away. Today it took me about 20 minutes of us both running for me to catch him. He is boarded on 20 acres so he has a lot of places to run. I don't want to scare him but I don't want him to think that he is the boss. After I caught him I sat in the field with him for awhile so he could realize that I'm not going to catch him then promptly yank him out of the field. I did lunge him because he was being really stubborn when I was trying to lead him and I also he is used to a lot of exercise so I wanted to keep that up. Once I had him out of the field I let him wander around (while I had the lead rope) and eat for awhile then I groomed him then did some basic groundwork while rewarding him with alfalfa cubes. I spent about 30 minutes calling him over to me and whenever he even took a few steps towards me I rewarded him. Then I turned him out and after he wandered some distance away from me I walked up to him several times and rewarded him with pets and alfalfa cubes.
Is anything I am doing counter-productive? Next time I go to catch him I am thinking about bringing alfalfa cubes out to the field with me. I also want to try clicker training. I don't want him to come to me only because of food tho.
Any advice? Opinions??

palogal 06-28-2013 11:18 PM

He's testing you. Make sure you never give up, meaning if you go out to catch him you always succeed in catching him and he may give up the chase game.
Since he's on 20 acres that makes things difficult.

I don't generally use treats, but since he's new to you, that may work well for you.

Serenity616 06-29-2013 08:31 AM

I definitely agree that you should always make sure you catch him so that he knows running away doesn't mean he won't get caught. I think it's great that you didn't work him right away! Show them that catching doesn't always mean "work." Change up what you do when you catch them. Don't do the same thing every time. As long as you keep working at it, he should come around. :-) Best of luck!

SouthernTrails 06-29-2013 08:37 AM


A student brought a New Horse to be boarded with us and this Horse was very hard to catch, by the student or us, she had recently purchased him and moved him to our farm.

What helped us was to go into the pasture and kind of ignore him while slowly walking towards him and when he noticed we were moving close we made sure to only look at him out of the corner of our eye.

After a few times and maybe 15-20 min. his curiosity got the better of him and came to see why we were ignoring him. In a few days of doing this he became much easier to catch :-)


Saddlebag 06-29-2013 08:51 AM

Looking elsewhere as you approach does work. Start walking big circles around him, stopping to look at the ground, the sky, check your clothes, etc. even turn your back to him. Gradually make your circles smaller. His ear will tell you if he's going to run off or at least turn away. Whatever he does, you do immediately in the opposite direction, altho don't run, just walk. If he looks to his left, you look to your left. This will actually draw him back. Your goal is to have the horse look at you with both eyes. If you get only one, he's looking for the door.

Viranh 06-29-2013 08:52 AM

I have been lucky to usually be able to catch the lead horse in my little herd. I would usually catch him and feed him where the others could see if they were being stubborn, and they'd all come in. I also can't have cow horses I can't catch at a moments notice, so I would walk out and give them treats without catching them periodically, so then all they expect is treats. This might not be the best solution, but I can catch any horse that's been on my property more than a few weeks! I also suggest that you not get upset at your horse when you can't catch him. Just pretend it isn't a big deal and keep trying. As long as you catch him and nothing traumatizing happens, I would bet that this behavior diminishes in a few weeks.
Another thought, I had a gelding come to me that had been hard to catch all his life, but someone had taught him that if you held up a finger and said "face up" he had to turn and face you and stand for a few seconds. We had to go through this little ritual even once he didn't really try to run away, but when he first got there, it was the only way to catch him. I've got no idea how he was taught that (maybe on a longe line?), but if your horse stays hard to catch, some little trick like that might be helpful. It was at least cute. :)

Eolith 06-29-2013 10:25 AM

I have a couple of mustangs. They sometimes prefer to "revert" to being wild and uncatchable when I go out to get them. After trying a broad assortment of techniques, the one that has worked best for me is a bit of rudimentary clicker training. Here's how it works:

I start off with just me and the horse in a stall (or any pretty small area). I hold my hand out to the horse, such that the back of my hand is facing him. Generally, he'll be curious about why I'm holding my hand out to him and he'll reach out to smell it. The moment that his nose makes any contact with the back of my hand, I "click" with my tongue and take a treat out of my pocket to feed him. Then I repeat... and repeat... and repeat until he figures out that when I hold out my hand and he touches it with his nose, a treat is sure to follow.

After I have him touching my hand fairly reliably, I'll back up a few steps and hold out my hand, requiring him to take a few steps in my direction to be able to touch my hand. Then I repeat that several times, varying how far away I'm standing from him when I hold out my hand to him. Once he's reliably walking to me and touching my hand for his treat, we proceed even further. (I should also note that I intersperse the treat game with a fair bit of petting and stroking his head and neck, to be sure that he's not still going to play keep away when I try to actually touch him.)

Beginning with the horse already wearing a halter, I offer the horse my hand while I am holding the lead rope snap. I make sure that he's comfortable touching my hand and getting his treat while I'm holding the snap, then I add the next challenge: when I hold my hand out to him, he has to not only touch my hand but also allow me to snap the lead to his halter (at which point he gets his treat, a few pets and loves, then I unclip the lead rope and repeat).

With enough practice, you should reach the point that you can walk into his pasture, stop about 20 feet away from him and hold out your hand, wait for him to walk up to meet you, halter him, and give him his treat and a bit of love before continuing on your merry way.

As I said, this has worked wonderfully for my mustangs (they both went through some really difficult phases -- you could spend an hour or more at a time trying to catch them). Both of my mustangs now meet me at the gate and happily allow me to catch them. In their case I think that they feel more safe/comfortable being permitted to approach me on their own terms.

Wildfire89 06-30-2013 08:17 PM

Well yesterday went a lot better. One of the resident horses (a mare named Bam who belongs to the barn owner) is smitten with him and they are always together and yesterday Bam led him up to the gate and he let me put a halter on and lead him out. He was definitely nervous tho so I took it slow and rewarded him with pets and alfalfa cubes and since he did so well I didn't work him at all. I just let him graze and I groomed him and spent time with him and my other horse.
I'm going out to see him tomorrow, hopefully he is even better than yesterday!

Wildfire89 07-01-2013 08:38 PM

Things went even better today! He let me catch him again and seemed less nervous. Alfalfa cubes are helping but I am giving him less as he gets more comfortable with me. He really seems to watch how the other horses act with me and follows their lead. So when I went to catch him I first haltered Wildfire (my other horse) and gave him an alfalfa cube and then I loved on and gave an alfalfa cube to each of the horses that were by Wildfire and Luka. He watched the entire time and by the time I got to him he had a look on his face like "well it's about time you paid attention to me. Took you long enough!" Then after he and Wildfire both had halters on my mom and I stood there and snuggled them and another horse for about 15 minutes before leading them out. Wildfire fell asleep as I was snuggling him and Luka was really relaxed. I've had Wildfire for 2.5 years and he'll follow me around with or without a halter on, but since I got Luka I have kept his halter on when I have them out of the pasture.
Oh, and after I turned the horses out, my mom and I both ignored Luka for a few minutes then we called him over to us, and he came right up!

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