Is Your Horse Hard To Catch
Whether it is all the time or just on an occasional basis, having a horse that is hard to catch be discouraging. By the time you get the horse in, you may be too tired to ride it!
I know some people regularly catch their horse by going out in the field with their horse’s favorite treat. If you read my earlier post about catching your horse in the field than you already know that I personally am not a fan of taking food out into a herd of horses. In that, I see too much potential for getting hurt with a bunch of horses fighting over getting close to you for that treat.
This is not something new or something that I came up with. Lots of trainers use and teach their students some version of this method. How do we do it exactly..we are working on the premis that your horse is either going to let you catch him or you are going to make him work.
The Field Is Not Such A Great Place To Be When…
If your owner or rider won’t let you do what you want and relax! Either your horse lets you catch it or you are going to make him work out there. Then the field won’t seem so fun.
It doesn’t take most horses very long to put two and two together and realize it is easier to just be caught.
If your horse moves away from you when you approach it you are going to use your body language(and perhaps the halter and leadline), and voice to keep him moving.
When I say moving, I don’t mean galloping around at a zillion miles an hour. You can make him walk away from you, or do an easy trot. The object is moving the speed is not that important.
You need to closely watch your horses body language if he seems to be stopping and turning in to you that is a good sign, stop pushing him to move at that point.
If he stops and stands to face you, approaches slowly and talk to him as you are walking up. Try to rub his neck and put the leadline around it. If he doesn’t move away from you, go ahead and halter him and tell him how great he is.
If he moves away from you when you reach for him you are going to stay calm and just make him move again. Calmly if possible. Galloping and slipping and sliding doesn’t make the process work any better.
You may have to repeat this process a few times before he realizes that if he runs from you, you are going to make him work.
You are trying to assert yourself as the boss horse, so the goal is to confidently be able to move his body around, allowing you to catch him when you want, without a fuss.
What Not To Do?
The first time your horse stops to face you, resist the urge to rush up and grab him. Your high energy in that situation is just likely to scare him away from you again. If you have to repeat the steps a few times before you succeed, no biggie. The more you do it, the easier it gets!
In A Perfect World
Once he stops and stands facing you, in a perfect world you would be able to calmly approach him and halter him. That is what we are going for so as you approach you can talk softly to him and pet him if you get close enough.
We want him to stand and let us halter him, not just stop long enough that we can get it on him!
It Takes Practice
Reading your horse’s body language takes practice. To know when he is ready to decide to let you catch him, and know when to step back and stop pushing, you just learn these things through experience.
Obviously, we would prefer our horses not to run away from us. If they do run through, it will be much easier to teach them to be caught using their language instead of ours.
In the herd, the dominant horse will move the other horses around the field. If he wants them to move, he will use aggressive body language to pressure others away. Once they are where he wants them, he will take the pressure off and go back to whatever it was he was going before.
Basically, you are trying to be the dominant horse. You become the leader and then take as long as you’d like to walk up and halter the horse because since he will understand what you are doing he will respect you.
Horses Like Being Told What To Do!
Horses are used to being told what to do by the other horses in the herd. They find comfort in knowing where they stand. Who is the boss, who to turn to when they are unsure…. that being said, you need to make yourself the boss horse! If you and your horse are a “herd” together, you need to be the boss horse and leader.
Be A Leader Your Horse Can Count On
Everything with horses goes much better if we try to communicate with them in a way that they communicate with each other it is much easier for them to understand! Meaning you will get the results you want faster. This goes for all of our interactions with horses, not just catching them!
Make That You’re New Motto
Your new motto around your horse should be “be a leader your horse can count on”!