Hard to Catch in Large Pasture
Hi there! I'll get right to the issue.
I bought a new horse towards the end of last year, and I've had him for almost 6 months now. I board him at a self-service facility with huge pastures. There are 2 main pastures, one for geldings and one for mares, and several small individual paddocks/pastures you can pay extra for. The main pastures are huge. The entire property is about 700 acres total. Needless to say, there's plenty of space for the horses to run off to.
With that being said, this new horse... likes to run off. He hangs in a group of 3 or 4 other horses that just don't stick with the rest of the herd very much. They don't come up to the barn but every couple of days or so, or they come up at very odd hours. I'm glad he's found his little group within the herd but finding time to ride has become extremely difficult. Even just trying to find him/convince him to come up to the gate for feeding has become difficult. The farmhand tried to feed him yesterday for me and couldn't get the group to go to the gate.
I'm a college student and my schedule is pretty tight already. I'm getting frustrated and feel like I'm wasting my time and money. I bought him specifically to ride (as my other horse is retired) and for stress relief. But, I've probably spent more time being stressed than even riding. I don't want to just give up because I haven't had much bonding/riding time with him, so he has no reason to come up to the gate (besides to eat, which he doesn't seem to care with all the available grass).
There is one smaller paddock/pasture available that I'm considering putting him in for a couple weeks to some intensive bonding, but I feel like as soon as he's back with his friends it won't matter. Not to mention, he's an anxious horse that already struggles to focus on me (rather than his friends), so I feel like separating them would just put more strain on him/our relationship.
I've thought about moving to a place with smaller pastures, but this place is ridiculously cheap even with being a self-service barn. Also, my retired gelding is living the life with the huge pastures and pony who hasn't been separated from him in over 2 years. I'm more emotionally invested in the retired horse, so I can't move him and trying to drive to 2 separate barns everyday is obviously not ideal.
I feel like selling him would be giving up. He hasn't progressed much with me due to lack of working together, and he has such a fun personality for a gelding. I don't want to take the easy way out and sell him because we haven't put in enough work to even see progress, but I can't even find him to work. Does anybody think if I just do as much bonding/riding when I do find him, eventually he'll start coming up to the barn?
I know this was a lot to read, so thanks if you did!