» The second part of the above video shows the hard to catch horse.
If you walk into the paddock and your horse runs away, guess what? Your horse isn’t bad, naughty or disrespectful. It’s absolutely nothing to do with being his leader or showing him that you’re the alpha horse. The plain fact is, your horse is worried and nervous and doesn’t want to come near you.
Never ever chase a horse that’s hard to catch. Remember, he’s nervous and worried and doesn’t want to come anywhere near you. Chasing a horse that’s already nervous and worried will only frighten him more.
Here’s the good news. You can have your horse running to you whenever you go to his paddock. It’s easy. Any horse will learn to come to you for feed.
“But won’t that spoil him?” I’ve heard this a thousand times. Spoil him for what, exactly? Horses that come running from the far end of the paddock to be with you aren’t spoiled. They’re confident, relaxed and easy to catch.
A badly handled horse may be nervous and worried when you try to catch him. I leave such a horse in a yard or stable and go to him with feed in a bucket. The horse may initially snatch a mouthful of feed and rush away. I ignore this; I just stand in the same spot. The horse knows I have feed and he’ll eventually return for more and stay a little longer. I let him eat out of the bucket for a while, then tip the feed into his bin and leave the yard.
I repeat this at least five times a day. The horse soon learns he gets feed when he’s with me. At some point, he’ll allow me to rub his head and neck as he eats. I’m not trying to catch the horse. I merely show him that I have feed and it’s pleasant and easy to be with me.
I leave him in the yard or stable for three or four days and go to him at least five times a day. When the horse responds well, I leave him in the paddock. The horse has learned that when he comes to me he gets feed and a pleasant experience – a rub around his head and neck. As he eats, I place a lead rope around his neck and put the headstall on. I let him keep eating out of the bucket for a few minutes and I keep rubbing him. The horse won’t even know he’s been caught. He’s too busy eating his feed and enjoying the rub.
It’s always a great feeling when you horse whinnies and runs to you from the far end of his paddock. Yes, he’s doing it for feed but he also knows that it’s good to be with you.
I recently bought a new harmonica. The instructions in the box stated ‘Be kind to your harmonica and it will be kind to you’. I’m not sure if it works with harmonicas, but I know without a doubt it works every time with horses.
Neil Davies began training horses full-time in 1977. Over the next 15 years, he started more than a thousand horses under saddle and trained thousands of so-called ‘problem’ horses. [read more]
He is the author of Fear-free Horse Training – every step of the way.
Visit Neil’s website at www.fearfreehorsetraining.com.