Possible new horse - hard to catch? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-01-2013, 11:38 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: New Zealand
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Possible new horse - hard to catch?

I have started looking for a second hack, one that is younger than my current gelding that I can ride more myself and then use my older boy for others to ride along with me.

I have found a little mare who sounds lovely but the ad says she is very shy and hard to catch without feed. My gelding was the same when I got him (not shy though but reluctant to be caught) and after spending weeks of following him around the paddock he finally got to the point where I could catch him most of the time and leave his halter off. My question is this - would doing the same for a shy horse be counter-productive at getting them better to catch when you first get them to your property?

I wondered if chasing them off every time they turn away from you when being caught would make them even harder to approach. My main concern would be ending up with two horses that think it is great fun to run away from me. I wondered if leaving her alone for a couple of weeks and letting her get used to me before starting the process would be better or would you start as you mean to proceed? I don't like leaving halters on horses and don't want to have to take treats with me every time I want to bring her in.
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-01-2013, 11:48 PM
Join Date: May 2013
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Have you gone and seen her? They might be saying she's shy cause the think it sounds better than she's a disrespectful aggravating mare that nobody can ride because se takes off to the backside of the pasture every time she sees a lead rope. I would go meet the mare and see if she's really "shy" or if she just needs working with.

There is no sport like barrel racing. It requires more speed than a sprinter, more balance than a gymnast, more grace than a dancer, and a stronger team than football.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-01-2013, 11:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Ontario
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Walk her down. If you ask her to move, don't chase her but do make her move. As soon as she moves you must stop moving. Horses don't like to run any farther than necessary so try to keep your energy low, yet high enough to move her. I'll start walking behind the horse and use my hands as tho shooing chickens. As long as she's moving and being allowed to stop, you are asserting your dominance over her. Do this until she will watch you with both eyes focused on you. Approach and bend your shoulders a little and extend your hand, knuckles down. Don't touch her nose but wait to see if she'll touch your hand. As soon as she does, turn your back and walk away 4 or 5 steps and wait about 15 seconds. She may follow you but if she doesn't face her until she decides to leave then walk her down again. Turning your back removes all pressure from her so it is important to do so. Her owners may have mistaken her being evasive with being shy.

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post #4 of 6 Old 09-02-2013, 12:39 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
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Very good advice given so far :)

I have seen horses that WERE hard to catch due to fear. My filly was one of them! Now, I took her on because I was told that hard to catch was her only vice. She had been raised like I see a lot of racehorses raised - that is to say, halter broke and branded as a weanling, then largely ignored until it's time for breaking. It's not uncommon for them to be kind of shy if you pick up an unraced, unbroke one. Her owner was a farrier and so he would have brought them in about every 6 weeks to look after their feet, and hers were [and are] BEAUTIFUL, so I can't fault the guy as a farrier.

When we went to pick her up, we got there and she'd already been caught [was just in the pasture when I went to look at her, couldn't get near her] and was DRENCHED in sweat and stressing badly. That was fine, she led nicely even though her friends were bolting around in the top pasture and she was about two pastures away from them. But now I look back and see a major red flag there.

But it took us an hour and a half to get this horse onto the trailer to get her home. Trailering was another vice and this one was MAJOR, she was dangerous about it, rearing up and striking out.

I'd dealt with bad floaters before too so I figured that was nothing I couldn't fix. Yes, that's right, I ignored the SECOND major red flag!

Eventually got her home after dark and she unloaded nicely but walked all over the top of me to the round pen, which I had already prepared for her to live in until I could catch her easily.

Over the next few days [that was all it took] I followed the approach and retreat method diligently. Several times a day I would go into the round pen and try to walk up to her. If she left, I would follow. She couldn't get away from me in there. If she stayed still, so would I, until she looked away. Then I would take another step towards her and repeat the dance until she stopped again. After about the second day I could easily walk up to her and rub her shoulder, neck and barrel. On the third day I introduced the halter and by the end of that day I could easily walk up to her and halter her. She wasn't consistent, not by far, but this horse that was formerly impossible to catch without backing her into a corner and manhandling her [I am neither strong enough nor willing to do that] had become possible to catch gently and without frightening her more. Took her about 3 months to become consistent.

I could have introduced the halter on day one but I think it would have taken a LOT longer to see results.

Then I discovered that my horse was dangerously terrified of doing the wrong thing, but that's a story for another thread.

Anyway, guess what I'm saying is that catching CAN be the only problem a horse has, or it CAN be a warning sign that greater issues are afoot.

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post #5 of 6 Old 09-02-2013, 01:36 AM
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Oh and by the way, my filly's problems did get fixed - that's her in my avatar - I'm NOT an experienced trainer but helped and broke my girl with only a little help [and she trailers nicely now], none of which being professional [unless you count discussions with my former employer]. I look back and wonder what I was thinking, and I truly and honestly believe the only reason I'm not dead is because I have an incredible horse. It is not a thing I would recommend anybody do without help!

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post #6 of 6 Old 09-02-2013, 03:33 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: New Zealand
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Thanks for all the information - very helpful

I haven't been to see her yet, so far I have just emailed the owner to get some more information. They have changed the ad details since I emailed and added in some of the information that I was asking about like breed etc. The ad now says the following - '10 yrs old about 14.3hh. great to drench, float loves going along the beach and swimming. Get your self a bargain as the price will start going up the more training i do on her. this lovely horse would make a great trek horse or pony club mount. would not recommend for beginners as can be a little strong on the bit also is hard to catch but great if you have feed. she has got lovely ground work manners and wont walk all over you. She is a lovely little horse so want her to go to a great home if your interested contact me on X i will consider accepting offers around $1500 so be in quick :)
great to do hooves she is barefoot unsure off breed could be a welsh x or kamanuwa will consider a swap for something younger and bigger in height.'

There is another horse being sold much closer to me who sounds great on paper, fantastic to do anything with, can put beginners on, no vices but he is 17hh which waaayyy bigger than I wanted! The part about the price going up wasn't in the original ad so I'm wondering if I am the first person to enquire about her. Will try and arrange a time to go and see her this weekend.
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