The Hard-To-Catch Horse

3 Different Training Approaches to finally solve the problem for good

Having to deal with a hard-to-catch horse can be very frustrating.

It literally can ruin your whole plans that you originally had for the day.

Your horse runs around and it takes forever until you are even able to get close to him?!

You’ve already gotten desperately creative in order to catch your horse?

You’ve tried to catch him with food? sneak up to him with the halter hidden behind your back? You’ve even built and extra fenced ‘catching area’ inside of the pasture -to limit the area if your horse runs off again?!

NOTHING seems to really help ?!

Causes that lead to having a hard-to-catch Horse

-Separation anxiety

-Unpleasant experiences after being caught

-Lack of training

-Anxiety of halter/ lead ropes

A single negative experience can lead to a long term catching problem!

I have 3 different ways for you – how you can finally solve this problem

Approach 1| Clicker Training

Clicker training gives you the huge advantage to re-program your horses brain rather than finding a band-aid solution

Break the single steps of ‘catching’ and ‘haltering’ down into small chunks – teach your horse to walk towards you in the open pasture – rather than you have to follow him around until he finally stands still.

Always start to teach a new behavior in a calm environment (like an arena, round pen, stall etc.) where nothing can disturb you.

You can do this for example -by starting out to teach your horse to touch a ‘neutral’ target with his nose.

This could be a pool noodle, a crop with a float attached to it’s end, a fly swatter or simply your hand etc

Once the cue of touching the target is established-you will ask your horse to actually step towards the target. First a tiny step, then a full step, then two steps and so on.

Transfer this task into the open pasture. At this point you only want your horse to look towards the target and maybe make the attempt of walking towards it- click+ treat for the slightest try.

When the cue of coming towards in the open field is established – you can start fading out the main target and transfer it onto the halter.

Ask your horse to touch the halter with his nose- click+treat.

Once the ‘halter target’ is established – you can go on and actually halter your horse. – Put the halter on – click+treat for putting his nose into the halter- click + treat when you close the halter …and so on.

Approach 2| Spend Quality Time with your Horse

Most horses associate the human that’s entering the pasture – with – being caught and hard work.

Your horse doesn’t see any valuable and positive connection in being caught and being with you.

Through spending some quality time with your horse – apart from your training sessions – you are able to create a better bond with your horse.

The more time you spend in his ‘normal’ environment – the more he will see you as a member of his herd- rather than trying to avoid you because you are ALWAYS asking so many things from him.

You most likely – only get to see 1-2 hrs of your horses daily routine – the other 22hrs of the day- that he spends with his herd – you are NOT a part of his life.

Take a chair and just sit and relax for a while in your horses pasture. Push any type of goals aside – get away from the idea that your horse HAS to come up to you. Just be present – enjoy the weather and the sound of the horses.

Approach 3| Desensitize your Horse to the Halter

Explain your horse that just because you come out to the pasture with a halter – doesn’t always mean that he has to work.

You can explain this to your horse by rubbing and scratching your horse with the halter- whenever you enter his stall/pasture.

Every time you go into the pasture to clean or feed- you rub his body down with the halter.

💡Note: Don’t try to be sneaky! Don’t try to hide the halter. Be obvious.

Look for itchy spots on your horses body- where he really enjoys being scratched- that way your horse can learn to connect the presence of the halter with a pleasant experience.

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