Hard to catch horses - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Hard to catch horses

Hi everyone, this is my very first post to this forum so, if I do something wrong, please let me know.

First a little background on a horse I am training (which is likely a part of the problem).

He was "rescued" by a grand daughter from whom I "inherited" him. We know very little about him except that he was treated pretty badly--had a really "rough" early life. He was skin and bones when we got him.

The vet "mouthed him out" as being 5 last November (the day he was castrated) so we think he is 6 now.

Training wise, he is coming along very well (all things considered). He has only bucked once (and that was my fault). He neck reins, stops, backs up--all the standard stuff. Now I am working on speed control--trying to teach him to always lope slow and easy on a loose rein unless I ask for a faster pace.

But he has developed a really unusual habit which I am surely responsible for but can't figure out how I did it or how to fix it. Anyway...

He has always been easier for my wife and daughters to catch than for me (it was probably a male that abused him during those hard times). Several months back, I could go into his stall and put a halter on him with no problem--sometimes but not every time.

What I have now is not a real problem but it is that it is so unusual. When I go into the stall with a halter and lead rope, the ears go back (but not pinned to his neck--I take that to mean that he is not really mad but surely don't like the situation) and he gives me the old "I'm gonna turn my head away and my butt toward you so you can't put that halter on me" routine. He has never offered to kick--he just wants to keep his head out of my reach. But now...here is the really funny part.

It is really not a problem because I accidentally discovered how to catch him quickly and easily. I simply pitch the lead rope over his neck and he immediately stops moving away. Then I can simply walk up and put the halter on him and he calmly submits.

Could it be that I am the only one riding him and he associates me with work and has come to think that doing that might get him out of the work?

Of course, the main question would be, how can I fix the problem? What I started doing this morning was going into the stall, catching him and leading him directly to pasture (no work). Maybe he will quit associating me strictly with work?

Any ideas?

Last edited by jlabaume; 11-24-2014 at 12:23 PM. Reason: Fingers got ahead of brain.
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post #2 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 12:29 PM
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Even tho he's not pinning his ears, it is still unacceptable. I will place my hand high on the horse's neck and wait until the ears come forward. When it happens I immediately remove my hand. I will repeat this many times if necessary. When he turns away, stay out of kick range but surprise him with a good tap on the rump with a lunge whip so he turns it away. He hasn't kicked yet but it's coming, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. He's testing you because that is what horses do. And he's adding up every little thing he gets away with. Then one day you see behaviour that will seem out of the blue.



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post #3 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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The hand high on the neck technique sounds like a goo one but is not needed here. That's because the instant the lead rope lands on his neck or back, he mellows and the ears come forward. But, he does that in other situations too (not just when I'm trying to catch him) so I will sure put the trick to use when it is called for. Thanks.

I have all the respect in the world for that hind end. I've been kicked too many times (fortunately none of them were in vulnerable places like the head). I have swatted him a couple of times before with the lead rope. Probably haven't done it enough. I'll try to fix that but one of the reasons I haven't done more of it is because I am afraid it would trip the old kicking trigger. Any pointers on how to whack him one without endangering yourself?

Thanks a bunch for the reply.
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post #4 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 02:07 PM
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Well if your in a field mud clumps work wonders (horse apples work good when in a stall too In my experience if they're a kicker they're gonna kick eventually regardless of what you do. I would personally spend a few days doing nothing but putting the halter on, hand grazing/brushing then give him a treat and put him back. See if this improves his temperament.

Don't tolerate the butt turning and don't be cowed by him, just show him that the halter does not equal work. I don't care if horses have their ears back a bit and look ****y when I'm putting the halter on but I want them to know that they cannot act on their feelings. I think some horses do it as a defense mechanism because often people will shy away from the 'mean' looking horses. lol
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post #5 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 03:08 PM
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For donkeys when they would turn their butts towards me I made them run around till they would turn and face me. They didn't want to then they had to keep moving. Didn't take but a couple of times till they figured that when they went into the corral that they all needed to face me.
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 03:31 PM
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I agree with the statements above for the respect issue.

Are you only catching him to work him? With mine, I catch them, halter them, give a treat, let go. Or catch, halter, groom and let go. Then catch and ride/work them. Then catch, halter, play, let go.

Sometimes I wrestle with my demons. Sometimes we just snuggle.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-24-2014, 03:49 PM
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You are most likely correct in that he views being haltered by you = him having to work, and you are definitely on the right track to make sure that some of the time being haltered means no work. That's called making deposits in the relationship bank..lol...or 'undemanding time'. Here's some ideas for undemanding time:
put the halter on (in the stall), give his withers a nice scratch or two, maybe give him a small treat if you sometimes treat him, take the halter off and leave the stall. That will blow his mind,,,in a nice way.

taking him to the pasture to graze (your idea) is also a good one

If you have a roundpen or paddock, let him loose (take off halter & lead) , you stand---or sit if a barrel/mounting block/etc is available, and just hang out with him. If he approaches you , let him sniff you, and maybe give him some petting,but otherwise don't ask anything of him until you're ready to end that session.

You need to learn how to yield his hindquarters by just looking at them. This needs to be taught in a roundpen or paddock. Once it is solid, all you will have to do is look at his rump to get him to face you, with an occasional reminder by tapping it. Parelli, Anderson, Cox all teach this , or any good trainer in your area should be able to help you with it. ALWAYS make sure you are far enough away to be out of the kick zone.That's why those 'handy sticks' work so well, they allow you to be able to touch the horse from 10 feet away (4 ft stick with 6 ft string), and I think 6ft is the average kick zone.

As already said, his turning his rump to you is him being disrespectful--not in a human way of thinking-just that he doesnt view you as higher than him in the herd heirarchy. You most definitely want to be the alpha horse in your herd of two. And, yes he is ticking up a talley of every time he 'one-ups' you that might one day add up to the point of him deciding to kick.

Your problem actually isnt very unusual...lol....unless the horse wants OUT of the stall,,,any horse that doesnt see the human entering the stall as a leader, ie alpha to him, is very likely to turn his rump to the human.

Have fun.Stay safe.
Fay

Respect......rapport......impulsion......flexion.. .
Be as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary--Pat Parelli
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