Okay, so 99% of the time, 90% of horses are easy to catch.

However, it’s that other 1% of the time and those other 10% of horses that can become the bane of our very existence. You may curse and swear and threaten them with the knackery, but there’s no way in this world that they are going to let you anywhere near them. It doesn’t matter whether you are an equestrian estate owner or just a farmer.

We all know the sort. They see you coming into the paddock, watch you approaching out of the corner of their eye, heads down, still eating, pretending that they haven’t seen you or heard you when you called them …. and they wait; until you are within a hairbreadth of them and then …  wham; they’re off … racing like the wind with their heads up and tails flying in the wind, you can almost see them laughing at you! All horsey people, and I do mean all, have at some stage had trouble catching a horse.

So How Do You Catch that Easy Horse?

There are a number of ways to catch an easy horse in the paddock. Some will come when they are called, some may need a small treat as an enticement and some may just wait patiently for you to come to them.

  • The first thing that you should do is let them know that you are there.
  • Remember that they are flight/fight animals so call out to them.
  • Approach them from an angle, preferably from the near side. As horses sight is best out to the side.
  • Make sure that you have your halter all untangled before you go out to the paddock.
  • Scratch or pat your horse on the side of the neck or shoulder before you go placing the halter on them.
  • And remember to always move calmly, and fluidly. Rushing will only end up with the horse at the other end of the paddock.
  • Place the halter in position and buckle into place. Ta dah … all done. Easy eh?

So Now for that Hard Horse What Can You Do?

Catching a difficult horse really begins several weeks before you actually want to catch it. So the most important item you need is time and patience, because it is much easier to try and cure this problem than it is to have to deal with it every time you want to go for a ride.

  1. If you have bought a known difficulty to catch a horse, then having it confined to some yards or small paddock, with a halter and short rope attached is a good place to begin. This allows you to get hold of the horse without fiddling with halters and lead ropes.
  2. Feed the horse often while confined. Once the horse comes to depend on you for food and water it makes it much easier for you. You can then start catching it and tying it up to be fed and then releasing it. The horse soon learns that being caught does not necessarily mean work.
  3. If you can’t get the horse to a smaller area, make it easy on yourself and borrow another horse and follow the hard to catch horse around the paddock on horseback. Don’t let it rest at all. This requires a lot of time, but persistence does pay off. Sometimes the horse may just follow the one you are riding back to a small yard or paddock.
  4. Have your hard to catch horse in with an easy to catch horse or several easy to catch horses and go into the paddock to just hang with your horse/s. This is where your easy horse/s comes in handy, especially if you take treats with you. Most horses like pats, scratches and a good groom. Make hanging out with you a good thing. Your difficult horse will soon realise that he is missing out if he plays hard to get.
  5. As mentioned above, feed all your horses in a yard or confined space. This way your difficult horse will come with your easy one and start to associate the yards with food and not work. Most horses, once they are confined, become easier to catch. A round yard is ideal for this.

Once the horse is happy to come to the yards to be fed then you can then try to catch him in the yard before you feed him. If he is still resistant, then you can send him around the yard as if you were free lunging at him, eventually he will stop and allow you to catch him. Make it clear to him that by not allowing you to catch him he will have to work.

Once caught, pat, give treats or groom, feed then release again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

By far the easiest solution is to not allow catching a horse to become a problem in the first place. Teaching them from a young age that your presence means a nice scratch or a pat, then when they get older and are being ridden, give your horses a small feed after work, preferably tied up. This way getting caught and work = reward.

William S Andrews, a personal development coach. He likes helping people cope with their problems. In this case, William has his own section on the website of  write my paper service. Moreover, he takes part in various conferences to improve his knowledge and develop new skills.

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