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Franklin Levinson's

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Hard to catch horse

Hi Franklin,

We just bought a couple of starved horses. Neither are broke, but are tame. The female mustang is a sweetie.  You can generally always catch her, and she will stand and let you rub her, groom her and pick up her hooves, etc. The other, a 2 year old, we were told is a little skiddish, but once you catch him, you can lead him, or whatever.


We got him home and his halter was grown into his face all the way around.  He is fairly small, due to no food.  We consulted a vet, and got the halter out of his face.  If you can catch him, he will let you brush him, and lift his feet, etc, but the problem is catching him.  He is getting harder and harder to catch, and today we actually failed.  We have refused to put another halter on him until he has healed.  Once you catch him, he is just like a big puppy dog. Can you give me any tips or advice on how we can make this process easier. We built a smaller pen inside the pasture to feed them in, that way we can shut the gate and catch him without having to chase him through the entire pasture, but now he just turns his rear towards us like he is threatening "come closer and I'll kick!"  What do I do?

Thanks, Alisa

Hi Alisa,

Never chase the horse around. When it is in a small area, carry a flag (half a plastic grocery bag affixed to a dressage whip or something similar), and all you do is simply go and stand on the same spot the horse is. The plastic on the stick will keep the horse away from you and out of kick range. The flag is not for you to scare the horse with. So, use it thoughtfully. The horse will move off the spot if you simply raise the flag as you move towards it. Only raise the flag if need be. Otherwise keep it down (straight down by your leg). When you occupy the horses spot, simply stay there a couple of minutes quietly, then go to the next place the horse is standing. Move slowly and calmly all the time. Eventually the horse will begin to follow you with its eyes (head). It will begin to get very curious about you. Eventually, put the flag down and use your body language to move the horse off its spot (wave your arms, etc.). Once you can do this (the horse should no longer turn its rear to you, but if it does hold the flag again), attempt to approach the horse's shoulder with an outstretched hand (palm down). Let him have a sniff and then you walk away. Begin to do this advance and retreat method of approach. The horse might just begin to follow you around. If it does good, put a rope and then a halter on it. Once you can get a rope and halter on it, remove them right away. Do this (complete removal of halter and rope) a lot and then occasionally. This way the horse does not habituate to having to work after it is haltered. Go slowly and take your time. Advance and retreat and one-step-at-a-time training with lots of removal of all pressure as reward for effort, and often, is the surest way to train a horse. Good Luck...

Sincerely, Franklin

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