Turnout season is coming again! It is so wonderful for the horses to be turned out with their friends. But is it fun for you too? Every horse lover has experienced it at some point; you enter the pasture with your halter and your line and when you are almost with the horse, it turns around quickly and sprints to the other side of the field… The question is: how can you train this? Click on quickly for 10 tips for horses that are difficult to catch.
1. Look for the cause
So if you always bring your horse in from the pasture and then immediately start working it, the horse will quickly link these things together. Your horse thinks in associations. This behaviour can therefore arise because in your horse’s eyes, going in from the pasture means ‘working’.
2. Try to break the associations
Bring your horse in from the field regularly for something else. Give it a treat outside the pasture, just give it a groom or go out for some grazing outside the pasture. Keep repeating this regularly so that your horse starts associating coming in from the field with things other than going to work.
3. Ask for help
Ask the owners of the other horses to pet your horse briefly each time they bring their horse in from the pasture. This way your horse learns that if a person approaches it in the field, this does not immediately mean that it has to leave the herd.
4. Train the approach
Ask a stable mate to help you. One of you holds the horse on a long line in the field while the other person walks up to the horse, pets it, and walks away again. If this goes well on both sides, the person holding the horse can move a little further away. This way you can build up the practice quietly without the horse being able to go all the way to the other side of the field.
5. Pay close attention to your own posture
If you walk in a straight line to the horse and you look straight at it, this means in its own language that it better move aside. Think of a predator about to attack its prey. So be aware of what you project to your horse. Try to walk diagonally towards the shoulder of the horse and make sure the side of your body is turned towards the horse.
6. Fence off a separate piece of the pasture
If your horse really cannot be caught in the large pasture, you can fence off a smaller section. You can then drive your horse into the smaller part and close it off. The smaller area makes it easier to practice catching afterwards.
7. Use approach and retreat exercises to practice catching
You take a few steps towards the horse, wait and walk away again. Keep repeating this so that you can get closer and closer. Always try to stop at the point just before the horse thinks about running away. Wondering how to do this? Watch this video.
8. Put the halter on calmly and in a controlled way
When you finally reach the horse, scratch it on the withers first and try to put the halter on calmly and gently.
9. Never punish the horse when you catch it
As hard as it was to catch your horse, don’t get angry at your horse when you finally catch it. It could then start making a link between being caught and getting a correction that could make him even more difficult to catch in the future.
10. Pretend you have all day
If you come into the pasture tense and in a rush, your horse will pick this up very quickly. As difficult as it may be, try to pretend you have all the time in the world and keep repeating the steps above consistently. Frustration can cause you to make unexpected movements and this may make catching more difficult.
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