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Retraining The Hard To Catch Horse

Apr 4, 2008
One of the most frustrating things with some horses is trying to catch them. We school them for riding but so often the basic on the ground things are just assumed they know. Or, worse, we're in a hurry so carelessly rush through haltering, turn around and jerk the horse forward then smack him for not knowing your intention...and who wants to be around that kind of a boss?!

The retraining of a hard to catch horse needs two simple things. A roundpen and a rope. Well ok four - a roundpen, a rope, a hard to catch horse and you. Get your horse into the roundpen and let him go. He wants to run off he comes around to the same spot.

While he's blowing off steam you compose yourself. Forget the daily hassles, forget the bills that need paid and get in the moment. No past, no future right now. Forget the hour it took you to catch him yesterday. Right now. Check your body language. If you don't think your body language and attitude makes a difference try this - saunter up quietly but firmly...not threatening. He might run off but it's at his pace because he's learned it. Now tense your body, clench fists, walk aggressively at him and notice the change...most horses will run as if their life is endangered. For a prey animal it might be. So check your attitude! Don't make it harder than it is.

Now walk calmly towards the horse's *shoulder*. Not the head, not the rump...but his shoulder. If he runs flick the rope at him and push him. Now you're going to MAKE him work. Push him around at a good clip, block his path by walking as if in front of him to make him turn around. Check him this way several times, each time pushing him away. He wants to run *you* take control and decide when, where and when he can stop. Most horses before too long will begin flicking an ear towards you, often dropping the head. Let him stop, and try again. If he takes off again then you once again repeat. The stopping, turning and running under your direction are *work* and make no mistake it's work few horses enjoy.

Once he no longer runs off continue walking calmly towards his neck or shoulder. Don't reach for him. If you're standing there and he's puffing let him think about it. "Hmmm...she's right here but I get to rest...not so bad." Then calmly turn and walk back to the center. Many are surprised how many horses follow them.

Walk up to him again. Remember - moving off means WORK. Standing means rest. Reach over and stroke his neck. Then and only then - when the horse is standing relaxed - catch him. Pet him a little, groom him then turn him loose again.

Repeat the process. It doesn't take most horses long to figure out that being with you is pleasant...running (and work) is more effort than it is worth. The horse has a choice - but the best and easiest choice for him is being with you. Make the time *with* you pleasant. If the only time you catch him is for medicine and vet treatments, he will soon learn it's not pleasant to be with you.

Consistently working on these principles can mean most horses will come around rather quickly. They like being with you...they get their food from you, they get attention from you. You are safe. With these simple keys and a little time your 'hard to catch' horse may be not hard to catch but rather a past misunderstanding.

From early on teaching a horse to be good to catch is an asset.
About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System - Horses for sale most everything equine related. Get More Horse Classified coverage and distribution with less cost and work. Award Winning Horse Forum
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