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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few weeks ago I started a rant thread because my brother in law was complaing that he couldn't catch my horse, when I have NEVER had an issue catching her. I have always been able to just walk right up to her. I knew it was just the result of bad horsemanship because he's had the same issue with all three of my horses. Well, in just this last week she has been running from me, and worse, turning her butt to me in her stall.

When she runs from me, I usually just follow her until she stops, which only takes about a minute before she gives up. I don't chase her because I don't want her to think that I WANT her to run. I keep her halter visible and let it be known I'm still trying to catch her, and the only way to get out of it is to keep working.

The stall issue is the real problem. How do I correct this? I feel like I should know this but all I can think about is I don't want to get kicked in such a small area.
 

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A few weeks ago I started a rant thread because my brother in law was complaing that he couldn't catch my horse, when I have NEVER had an issue catching her. I have always been able to just walk right up to her. I knew it was just the result of bad horsemanship because he's had the same issue with all three of my horses. Well, in just this last week she has been running from me, and worse, turning her butt to me in her stall.

When she runs from me, I usually just follow her until she stops, which only takes about a minute before she gives up. I don't chase her because I don't want her to think that I WANT her to run. I keep her halter visible and let it be known I'm still trying to catch her, and the only way to get out of it is to keep working.

The stall issue is the real problem. How do I correct this? I feel like I should know this but all I can think about is I don't want to get kicked in such a small area.
Swing the end of your lead rope in a circle at your side applying pressure to your horses butt. When your horse turns around take the pressure off. If just twirling your lead doesn't make him move tap him on the butt with your lead till he turns around.
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Honestly, I'd be looking long and hard at the bad horsemanship issue to see what is being done that is creating the issue. That being said, the above post is right on as to addressing the result - my concern is that every effort you make to correct it will be undermined if the other bad horsemanship (I am assuming on the part of the BIL?) continues to be used on the horse. If you don't/can't stop the other "training" (because that is what it is - training, for all the wrong things) you will just be going in a vicious circle and the horse will become further frustrated and confused.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Swing the end of your lead rope in a circle at your side applying pressure to your horses butt. When your horse turns around take the pressure off. If just twirling your lead doesn't make him move tap him on the butt with your lead till he turns around.
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For some reason I thought to move the hind end away, you should be standing closer to their shoulder. That's where I was running into problems, her pen is just too small for that. But if I'm standing directly behind her, it should have the same effect? I'll probably have to use a whip, she doesn't really respond to the lead, even when it hits her.

Is what I'm doing when she runs from me ok?

Honestly, I'd be looking long and hard at the bad horsemanship issue to see what is being done that is creating the issue. That being said, the above post is right on as to addressing the result - my concern is that every effort you make to correct it will be undermined if the other bad horsemanship (I am assuming on the part of the BIL?) continues to be used on the horse. If you don't/can't stop the other "training" (because that is what it is - training, for all the wrong things) you will just be going in a vicious circle and the horse will become further frustrated and confused.
I know exactly what you're saying. I made a point to tell him this problem started after HIS attempts to catch her. I was careful not to mention his crappy horsemanship, that would have just caused more problems. I WILL make sure he knows I am trying to correct this, and exactly what he needs to do to not make it worse.
 

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Make it nice for her to be around you , and make being caught a fun thing instead of a bad thing. Bring a handful of her food or a few peppermints, and get HER to put her nose through the halter by holding the treat through the nose loop of the halter. When she has it on, scratch and pat her behind the ears or give her a nice little face rub. Its all about making her want to be around you, regardless if she is running away from the BIL. If you make it nice for her to be around you, she won't run away anymore :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Make it nice for her to be around you , and make being caught a fun thing instead of a bad thing. Bring a handful of her food or a few peppermints, and get HER to put her nose through the halter by holding the treat through the nose loop of the halter. When she has it on, scratch and pat her behind the ears or give her a nice little face rub. Its all about making her want to be around you, regardless if she is running away from the BIL. If you make it nice for her to be around you, she won't run away anymore :)
Makes sense, thanks.
 

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When one of my horses started playing this little game and running all over the pasture, I started going out with a treat (I know that some of you disagree) and the halter. When he came up for the treat I would put the halter on, lead him around a little bit and then take the halter off and leave. I think he was associating the halter with long, hard rides. After just a few days of this, I no longer have trouble catching him. Once in a while he'll highjink around but when he stops I just walk right up to him and it's all good.
 

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If any horse turns their butt to me, they get a smack on their behind. Don't have to be by their shoulder, behind them, the location doesn't matter SO LONG AS you aren't going to get run over or kicked. As soon as they turn and face you, soften your aura and back up to give them a release. :) That's how I would handle the stall. I wouldn't bribe with treats or whatnot, treats are meant to be earned, not handed out. Then you get other problems like treat mongers, pushy detectives, and nippy habits. So make sure you always give the horse release once they do what you ask.

As for catching, if they walk away, I make them work hard away. I will make them trot, canter, gallop away from me. Only when they stop and look at me do I stop, back off, don't give them direct eye contact and draw them into me. If they don't come, then I try approaching, if they turn and look away, I drive them off again. It works for me, especially lately since my boy has made it into the "cool crew" and cool apparently means no moms allowed.

Well he sang a different tune soon as I made him work around his friends.. :p
 

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Right on trail dancer! I just blogged about the catching problem a couple weeks ago and said almost the exact same thing (and more)!

As for the stall catching/butt turning, I think a whip is a good idea, so you can keep your distance in case she kicks. I've found that being 'annoying' by tap, tap, tapping with the hard part of a whip, is a good way to get them to swing their butt away. Also, be sure NOT to make eye contact when catching, both in the stall and in the pasture. Since you are (presumably) the lead horse, mere eye contact can be enough to push the horse away. Lastly, I love the Monty Roberts join up method, and, if you are good at it in a round pen/arena, then the same principles can be applied for catching..wherever! Hope that helps :)
 

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@ Skyseternalangel, I agree with most everything you said (which pretty much describes the Join Up process), but I would disagree about the treats. I don't think horses are smart enough to 'understand' treats as an earned reward, unless it is immediate. ie...get on the trailer, here is a treat. Get caught...here is a treat. Good ride...a treat after a ride isn't going to give you better rides. I just don't think they can make the association between a willingness in the ring and the carrot a half hour later. I agree that they shouldn't be fed by hand in most instances, but rather given a handful of grain in a bucket EVERY time they are brought in so that they associate being brought in with a reward. Am I allowed to link to my blog...? I describe the whole catching problem in greater detail there...although I think the Join Up skills are essential as well, and I failed to mention that. Perhaps that will be my next blog ;-)
 

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@ Skyseternalangel, I agree with most everything you said (which pretty much describes the Join Up process), but I would disagree about the treats. I don't think horses are smart enough to 'understand' treats as an earned reward, unless it is immediate. ie...get on the trailer, here is a treat. Get caught...here is a treat.
That is why I've taught my horse "extra cookies" which he knows when I say that, he's getting a treat for that decision later. It does lead to better rides, better responses, better focus. Least it does for us. It just depends how you do it
 

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You are right in not ramping up your energy in the pasture. The only change I will suggest is that you circle in behind her, into her blind spot. If she hasn't turned to watch you, ramp up a just enough energy to make her move by going after her but not so close as to get kicked. Wait until she settles, then you may have to repeat. This teaches them to watch you with both eyes. One eye means the other is looking for an escape. When you can circle her and she turns to watch you consistently then she will likely turn to face you in the stall.
 

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Sounds like your brother in law unintentionally taught your horse a new game.

One method for catching a horse would be when he is walking away keeping walking to his eye, don't worry about getting in front of his head to stop him just walk to his eye, at some point he will stop and look at you, when he stops, you stop drop eye contact, ignore him, turn around. Let him think about it a little. Then turn around walk to his shoulder without making the hard eye contact. If he leaves, then again walk to his eye. When he stops drop the eye contact. Pretty soon you should get up to him and put the halter on. I suppose you could do this several times without actually catching him to ride to reinforce it.
Its basic pressure and release using body language.

I am not a fan of bribery with treats...some hard to catch horses get harder to catch when they get smart and will get just close enough to take a treat then you go to put the lead rope over his neck he peels out.
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When you want your horse to yeild its hindquarters you put pressure on the hindquarters. You need to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard. Her turning her butt to you is her way of sayin she doesn't respect you. It doesn't matter if you use a whip or a lead rope. If she doesn't move when you start twirling it, start tapping her on the butt with hit with rythm. If she doesn't move her hindquarters away from you, then start tapping faster with more intensity. Soon she will give in and move. Just make sure you are standing in a postion where you can't be kicked. If she only takes a couple steps away but doesn't fully yeild her hindquarters keep after her. As for out in your pasture, I don't use treats, just a personal preference. I agree with another poster who stated it tends to make horses pushy. I've also found that horses sometimes get wise to being baited in and decide they are willing to give up a treat not to be caught. Another draw back with treats is, doing the right thing is easy, but so is doing the wrong thing which is walking away from you. Do you ever round pen her?
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That is why I've taught my horse "extra cookies" which he knows when I say that, he's getting a treat for that decision later. It does lead to better rides, better responses, better focus. Least it does for us. It just depends how you do it
You got me thinking...am I not giving my horse enough credit? Pardon my scientific approach, but, I have a Bios degree, and a psych minor, so I tend to be quite analytical. So, my personal training opinions and experiences aside...

I researched this quite a bit on The Horse.com (they make you sign up to read full abstracts of their studies, but it is a wealth of information!). They had tons of studies on horse memory, attention span, reinforcement, training methods, and discipline methods. Everything I read said that a reward must be applied immediately to elicit a learned response. I'm always looking to learn more, so please, if you have more on the subject, or learned this from a prof trainer, please share!

Back to opinions and experience...
I think you understand how to train a horse, as evidenced by your thoughtful posts. But in this instance, I believe it is the training itself that is giving you a good response...the instantaneous rewards/punishments such as releasing the reins, applying more leg, even the less obvious rewards such as the 'aura' you mentioned in the horse stall catching discussion. If each ride is better than the next, I bet you are doing a good job with those things!

And, might I add, this is why I love these forums, because there is always more to learn. Relevant to this discussion, I came across a study done that used rewards (food/treat) to reinforce a given behavior.

"Several months after specific training with positive reinforcement, the same study horses were much more likely to remember what they had learned in the initial study compared to a control group, according to the group led by Carol Sankey, MSc, a PhD candidate in ethology (the study of animal behavior) at the University of Rennes in western France, who presented her findings during the 2009 Equine Research Day in Paris. These horses were also generally friendlier with humans, including humans they had never seen. This article was "Training: Positive Reinforcement Improves Horse Memory".

Another study showed that horses trained with feed rewards were significantly faster in learning a set of behaviors compared to the control group. They learned so much faster, in fact, that the slowest horse in the 'feed' group learned faster than the fastest horse in the control group!

If anyone reads my blog, you'll see that I WAS typically anti-treat, with the exception of bringing a horse in from pasture..and trailering. But, given this information, you can bet that I will introducing some new 'tricks to my bag'! I'm not going to walk around with treats in my pocket, rewarding at every step, but, I can think of a situation right now where I am willing to give it a try. If you had asked me yesterday, you would have gotten a different answer!

Always learning :)
 

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Well thank you.

To put it plainly, the better you are at linking good work with release or treats, the quicker your horse catches on. Horses are very smart, they tend to rule out things so that they can find the right answer. So over time, he knows when I say "extra cookies" that he did a great thing.

An example would be cantering on the lunge line with the correct lead. We did a little experiment. I went 3 weeks without saying the magic words. He did okay.. he would get it right and then he'd do it wrong. I'd praise him when he got it right, but the next time he was a little better but still wrong.

So then I started saying those magic words. And what happened? Correct lead, every time. He knew exactly what that word meant and the next week? He was even departing better.

It was just more motivation and a clearer "you're right!" path. He's VERY food driven, which is why if he does really well with something he usually struggles with, then I give him something extra and he seems to try harder.

I'm always learning too, but that is what works with my horse. He doesn't get treats often, but when he does he remembers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have taken everything in, thank you all for your responses.

The treat thing seems like a preference that I can't really win or lose with, so I might do a little experimenting with that. I will be seeing Sky tomorrow morning and WILL be introducing her booty to the whip.

As for round penning her, I have never met a more clueless horse. I am not new to round penning. My previous two horses were really good at it, but Sky just doesn't seem to get it. This is how I know she responds better to a whip. I can get her going for a little while but then she'll just stop and refuse to move. She doesn't flex well, at all, and doesn't engage or disengage anything. It's really quite frustrating, especially when she's such a good trail horse, but I do plan on bringing in a trainer I've used before that I've seen work wonders, so we'll see what happens.
 

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Immediate rewards

To put it plainly, the better you are at linking good work with release or treats, the quicker your horse catches on.
Agreed...but...the the reward must be immediate. In fact, studies showed that delayed rewards caused confusion, and delayed punishment causes aggression.

An example would be cantering on the lunge line with the correct lead. We did a little experiment. I went 3 weeks without saying the magic words. He did okay.. he would get it right and then he'd do it wrong. I'd praise him when he got it right, but the next time he was a little better but still wrong.

So then I started saying those magic words. And what happened? Correct lead, every time. He knew exactly what that word meant and the next week? He was even departing better.
The thing about the studies and experiments in the The Horse, is that there is always a control group. Just like in drug trials, there is a placebo effect. This means there is the belief that the drug (or extra cookies in this case) is working, whereas the improvement was unrelated to the drug/cookies. In fact, it is funny, for a drug to be considered effective and go to market, it must show % improvement OVER PLACEBO (the control group); Not improvement from baseline, because people improve WITHOUT the drug.

Can you tell I use to be a pharmaceutical rep? ;-)

I think that, if a horse is lunged repeatedly, he would get better with time. Would a horse, without 'extra cookies' improve similarly? Were your skills improving over time? Whether the horse's nose was pulled in by the lunge line, the horse's comfort level/stress level with the activity, and in particularly, the horse/s hip position, all influence which lead a horse will take.

So, there's my final thoughts...I don't want to beat a dead...ummm ;-) Just want to make people understand the importance of an immediate reward/consequence, as this is critical for learning.
 

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Agreed...but...the the reward must be immediate. In fact, studies showed that delayed rewards caused confusion, and delayed punishment causes aggression.
Definitely agree with delayed punishment. That would cause aggression regardless if it was a horse or a person :p it would be very confusing.

As for the delayed reward, at first I did establish what that word meant, similar how some start introducing the clicker sound as a good thing. Except I didn't just give him a bunch of treats and say the word, I made him work for them (on the ground) and the I'd treat him. That was back when he was very very very unsure of everything and he didn't trust people's hands on him. It worked for him well, and it seems to work with other horses I've handled too. Now if I had started with an unstarted, unharmed 2 year old, then I may have handled it differently.

The thing about the studies and experiments in the The Horse, is that there is always a control group. Just like in drug trials, there is a placebo effect. This means there is the belief that the drug (or extra cookies in this case) is working, whereas the improvement was unrelated to the drug/cookies. In fact, it is funny, for a drug to be considered effective and go to market, it must show % improvement OVER PLACEBO (the control group); Not improvement from baseline, because people improve WITHOUT the drug.

Can you tell I use to be a pharmaceutical rep? ;-)

I think that, if a horse is lunged repeatedly, he would get better with time. Would a horse, without 'extra cookies' improve similarly? Were your skills improving over time? Whether the horse's nose was pulled in by the lunge line, the horse's comfort level/stress level with the activity, and in particularly, the horse/s hip position, all influence which lead a horse will take.
Well we had been trying to get the right leads since October. Yes there was improvement but he still didn't understand it, he didn't make an effort to get it right because of that fact. He's the type of horse that blooms in a second with positive reinforcement. So I thought of something that would work for him, and he understands it. And he tries really really really really hard to get that word out of me.


And no I totally get it, haha. But it's worth looking into further. Every horse is different and they have different things that work for them. Mine evolves into a different better horse with positive reinforcement so I found what works for him :) Kind of like those horses that hear their person's car and come running. They are anticipating something, and so does my boy when he hears those words.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well, Sky did ok. As soon as she saw me coming, she walked to the opposite corner with her butt facing me. I brought the whip in and got her to move her butt, but she would only go so far. Once she was parallel to the fence she refused to turn all the way around and just let my whip hit her. She did however allow me to catch her right away. It didn't stick though. Every time I would walk away, she would try to turn her butt to me again. She's a work in progress, but she's smart and I think this is something I can definitely turn her around from.

Feel free to continue discussing the treat thing, it's still something I'm going to play around with.
 
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