Halter skittish mares - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-22-2017, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Halter skittish mares

I have acquired two mares that haven't been ridden or worked really in about a year. They follow like puppies when I have nothing in my hands, but run like the wind if I'm holding halters or lead ropes.
I have a tiny 30x30 pen attached to my barn, and my barn sits inside 6 fenced acres. Since the pen is too small obviously, today I pretty much followed them for 2 hours. I kept the ropes on my arm the whole time, except for when they started running, when I'd swing a lead rope and get them running. I can't keep them running though, not on 6 acres. So I'd wait for them to stop and look at me, I'd call to them, then start a slow approach. 2 hours later one finally came to me. I put on her halter, pet her for a few, then took the halter off and let her go. But the other horse didn't come over.
I went to try to approach the second, but she joined with the first (who I just released) and they ran off.
I don't know how to continue. If I only had one or the other, I would just stay the course, but with both I'm unsure. Do I just work on the first and hope the second comes round?
Sorry for my newness, I'm trying to learn!
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-22-2017, 06:30 PM
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Tie the one up, then catch the second one, or even put number one into that pen with a little treat
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-22-2017, 08:15 PM Thread Starter
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I worry that separating them will only make them more anxious - So I think I'll try to tie her. Luckily it's the alpha (do horses have alphas?) of the two, so I'm hoping the other falls in. I had the farrier out a few days ago and had to lure them into the pen and halter them there, but I know that won't work for long. I'd rather get this out of the way now so we can work on other things!
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-22-2017, 09:12 PM
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Don't tie them unless you have a pole or a tree that won't break under their pressure and that you can safely tie to without the horse getting tangled in the rope. Tangled in the rope includes managing to get the rope wrapped around its neck.

Yes, even a herd of two has an alpha leader and the alphas can be cagey:)

If the horses don't pull back and fight once you catch them, roll up a binder twine and keep it in the palm of your hand. Once you get to the horse, quickly and quietly put the binder twine around the horse's neck (throat latch area), praise the horse and walk to where the halter is. Keep the twine on the horse until you get the halter on.

This means you have to be quick yet quiet and pretend you have suddenly grown a third hand, lollol It can be done, I've done it a thousand times over my life but it is hard to explain with nothing but a keyboard.

Also, you did the right thing to halter, then turn loose. If you can "play" with them every day, they won't know which day means a treat then work and which day means a treat then back to grazing.

Good luck --- the two things I hate most in this life are a horse that refuses to be caught and car that won't start --- both when I need them for something important, lol

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-22-2017, 11:36 PM
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When two horses run together, both hard to catch, then, unless you wish to play the same game with both, one has to be penned or separated.
That alone will have the second horse com up/hang around, even offer to be haltered\
If you are going to use treats, only offer them once the hrose is haltered, and not to bribe them to be haltered. Horses get very good at eating the ;lure', but evading being haltered
Also, unless you know ahorse respects that twine around his neck, don't use it, as it will teach that horse he can pull away
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-22-2017, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much!
I believe I have to perfect (safe) place in mind to tie her, should I need to.
The gentleman I got the horses from told me he always uses the back end of the lead rope around the neck to steady , then uses his other hand to halter them. That's how I've been catching them, and it does feel like I need at least one more hand to do it with any grace! I'd prefer to not have to use the lead ropes to steady them, but right now I'm trying to teach them to not flee! Baby steps.
I had to walk out to the barn this evening, and carried both halters and lead ropes with me just to stay consistent. I wasn't going to approach at all, just run to the barn and back to the house. But they ran right up to me. I shook the halters and was preparing to send them off, but they hung right at my shoulders while I was walking. So I stopped, pet, and told them they were good girls. I didn't want to chase them in the dark, so I didn't halter (just in case they did run), but I did make sure I was the first to walk away.
I'm feeling optimistic about tomorrow. Fingers Crossed!
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-23-2017, 12:49 AM
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If you feed them, besides doing the catch and release method, I also made them stand to be haltered before they could eat and then took the halter off afterwards.
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-23-2017, 12:59 AM Thread Starter
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They graze most of the day, but perhaps I could do this with a couple small treats. Tomorrow I'm hoping to catch and brush them for a short time, then release. I might just catch and release, just because I want to take it slow with them. I know they're full broke, but they sure aren't acting like it yet.
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-23-2017, 03:26 AM
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If you can catch the one I would lead her into the 30 x 30 area and give her some carrots or a small feed of pellets in a pan and stand with her whilst she eats. Have another bucket with something for the other horse and just let it follow into the pen. If it doesn't don't worry. Repeat. In the end she will follow the other in, let her eat and you close the gate/door. Tie the first horse up and then in the small are set about trying to catch the second.
When you catch her leave the halter on (it must have a break away strap in case she gets it caught on something, and correctly fitted)

They will get use to coming into the pen are for a few treats and soon become catchable.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-23-2017, 07:11 AM
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The catch and release method unfortunately only works when you can actually catch them, sadly!

I spent a lot of frustrating time as a kid "chasing ponies" hence my forum name and soon learned what worked and what didn't. Here's what I would suggest.

Don't carry 2 halters and leads with you, it's just too much obvious equipment to deal with. Take one halter and lead and hang them from your shoulder but hold them very close to your body so that they aren't obvious. Decide that you are going to catch one horse, not a certain one but whoever eventually allows you too.

Wander aimlessly toward them and don't stare directly at them. Walk at a slight angle in their general direction but not straight at them. Turn your shoulders slightly away from them. Look down at the ground most of the time as if there's something down there you are actually interested in. Remember that a horse is always watching your body language and become suspicious pretty easily. Pretend that you have all the time in the world. Never, ever, ever chase them even if they bolt. This creates the "run away" habit and makes it a game to them Trust me, you cannot keep up with them long enough to "wear them out". In being chased away, the 2 mares together will feed off of each other's energy and run away faster!

Carry some treats in your pocket and whichever one comes close enough gets one and then does not immediately get caught. If you can get close to one of them, don't immediately try to halter them. Rub the shoulder, scratch under the neck and talk to them. When you see the horse relax, slip the lead rope around the neck and pinch it lightly under the throat. Between the lead around the neck and a hand on the nose, you are faking having the halter on and then can usually slip the halter on smoothly. Giving a treat or two in between will motivate the horse to want to stay with you and not run off. (It often makes the other horse jealous too so they both may end up right next to you). Lead the caught horse around for a few minutes and then release. Sometimes when you do this and let them go, they will decide that they want to be with you and start following you.

If you do bring one back to the pen, make sure to have a handful of feed ready as a reward and to turn it into positive experience. All of this takes time and patience but eventually they will willingly get themselves caught! You end up with both when you only wanted to catch one!
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