Any suggestions on catching my horse in his paddock?
I have been having my 8 yr. old paint at this barn for 1 1/2 years now and suddenly he has become hard to catch in the paddock. Not just myself but sometimes barn hands or others have trouble. He just won't come in. He stalls at night and goes out in the day. He has grain and hay waiting in his stall each night but that does not seem to matter. When I bought him 18 months ago the previous owner kept his halter on and used a bucket of oats to catch him for me to test ride. However, we had no trouble at my barn, his new home, until now. Otherwise, he is v ery sociable, well mannered and eager to learn and work. I use him for jumping. I don't really want to hve to bribe him with a bucket or leave a halter on him as it rubs a faw spot on his face. Thanks.
How big is the paddock? I would put him in a smaller space so if he avoids being caught you can run him around you until he decides it's much easier on him to be caught without fuss. If you like him being in a larger area, you can do what i did. I put a round pen in one corner of my larger paddock so I could herd my daughter's cagey little pony into it. I made a point of going up to her in the field. She would promptly run from me, so I would herd her in, then shut the gate and run her little butt in circles every time I went out there. When she stopped I went up to her, gave her a scratch and a goody, and left her alone, leaving the gate open behind me so she could get back out. After a few weeks of that she would get into the roundpen, realize she was as good as caught, and let me approach. A few weeks of that and the roundpen was no longer necessary.
Definately try to nip the running in the bud as it is a frustrating habit, as I am sure you already know :)
I know "bribes" are considered a no-no, but I always bring a carrot or horse cookie with me and my horses come to me instead of making me chase them. It works for me.
The other philosophy is to chase them away every time they turn away, and keep doing that until they finally stand and let you approach. I'm sure that works too, but will take some time and training on the part of you and everyone who has to catch him.
Keep your eyes on the ground and your body posture soft. If you come into the field thinking "I am going to get my horse and we are going to ride!" with confident, straight shoulders and eyes staring down a horse, your horse is going to run from you.
I give cookies and hugs...if it makes my life easier, and the horse isn't nippy, why not?
Don't always take your horse out to work. Sometimes, just show up, take him/her out, groom, give cookies, hand graze and return them to the pasture.
Thanks. I don't mind bringing a treat (bribe), but now even that does not work. I also kind of do what you suggest. I try approaching slowly, when he turns to run I chase him. He keeps running and I keep chasing to get him tired. I stop several times and attempt a calm slow approach, but to no avail. He has to run and work a lot harder than if I were to catch him and ride him. Maybe one day he will understand that and give in. Maybe lack of food will get to him as well.
He was in a bigger paddock with other horses and we put him in the smaller one when this started. I would say the current paddock is about 50 feet wide and 200 to 250 feet long. Your round pen sounds like a good idea. It is not my barn so not sure if that is practical in my case. I am hoping that chasing him and tiring him out will make him give in one day but sometime that is more exercise than I want.
Thanks. I will try the approach. I do try to not always ride him when I catch him but I really catch him less than 10% of the time. Otherwsie, the barn hands catch him b/c I get there after they bring the horses in for the day.
He runs from you out of disrespect. As cori said, when you go to catch him, don't always take him out to work. Is there grass in this paddock? I agree with making them run if they try to get away from you. Have you ever just gone in the paddock and just sit? The other thing you can try is when you do catch him give him lots of scratches and if you want a treat. Make getting caught a good thing. Once you are done loving on him, let him go, but still have some control. Don't let him walk away from you, you walk away from him. No eye contact. It may take some time for him to realize being caught or being near you is a good thing. You may not be able to ride or work him for a few days but I think it will be worth your time to correct this frustrating habit.
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What mbender said!
100% success rate here with the "hard to catch" ones, they think ok they are going to make me get out and work, i like it here i can just stand and eat safely... i go out with them i have to run and move and WORK.
here with those we catch them take them out groom and pamper, put them back.... we even catch'n'release in the pasture to get them over this.... teaches the horse that being caught does not always mean work.
When a horse moves away from me i make them run and when they decide to stop I move up to them again. If they move away I make them run. I repeat this untill they don't move away. I halter them, give them a pet, say good boy/girl and give them a treat. This way they learn to respect me and they like it, eventually even coming to me in the pasture. It doesn't matter if I'm riding or not they HAVE to respect me as a leader. I have never had a horse who hasn't responded to this method, horse's are herd animals and they are happy to know they have a boss who doesn't let them cross the line.
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