Can't catch horse - what next? (sorry, long!)

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
Ok, so a bit of background...horse is 27, retired polo pony, chestnut mare (and a typical one at that!). I've had her for 13 years. First year I had her, I couldn't catch her from May to August. No kidding, not once. Since then, she's been better. Until now....

So, this is what I've tried so far:

Join up - the first year I had her - did this for 2 hours a day, every day, for 3 months. Then I managed to catch her. Honestly, I think she'd have given in after that time anyway! Not overly practical at the moment as I have less time and help available than I did back then.

Keeping her walking - tried this a few years ago and I gave up after 6 hours when my legs were about to drop off. Tried again a couple of weeks ago and she hooned up and down like an idiot (not good for her legs or mine!). It seemed to scare her more than anything.

Sitting in the field - gave up after 8 hours of her completely ignoring me. She didn't look at me once.

Feed - looks interested and comes up, then runs off as soon as you go into the field.

Making her jealous by giving her friend fuss and polo's - this is the most effective so far, she usually comes up to approx 2m away, but runs off as soon as I move. Have tried doing this for 2 hours at a time - she doesn't come any closer or become any more relaxed.

Lunge line with helpers to "corner" her - she panics and jumps over the fence/lunge line/through helpers. At her age, I don't even want to risk this again as I think she's more than likely to injure herself by trying to jump out and missing.

I have tried just going into the field with treats, no headcollar - still won't come near me. In the past, I've tried catching her regularly, feeding her, then letting her go (and different variations - catch her, give her a scratch, titbit, and off again etc). Makes no difference.

The only thing that works is to keep her hungry, which isn't an option I really want to consider (ok, in winter when she's cold and miserable and ready for her dinner, that's a different matter, but I don't want to starve her deliberately).

So, any suggestions? Any weird and wonderful ideas I haven't thought of? (should add that other people have tried without sucess - it isn't just me)

Cookies and Cream Haagen Dazs for anyone who got this far, and add a flake for anyone who replies
 

0ldmare

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 September 2004
Messages
7,424
Location
Kent
Poor you, I dont think I can suggest anything you haven't already tried!

My LOU loan horse Barney is often really hard to catch. Obscurely he is worse if he is cold
. I think he wants to be caught but gets all silly and leaps away from you as soon as you get near enough to touch him. He is also bad in the summer when he is out at grass. The thing is NOTHING nasty ever happens to him (like being ridden for example
) He is just a field ornament and has been for 7 or 8 years. And yet he is still a git to catch (unless its winter and he is in a rug and therefore not cold). I could write a book on my attempts with him! Tomorrow I have the farrier coming and I noticed this morning that he has managed to remove his headcollar so I have no chance. I can see this evening will be spent pursuing the little toad around the field. I feel your pain but cant offer anything other than sympathy!
 

badgerdog

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 February 2008
Messages
1,188
Location
Northumberland
You poor thing! I'm sorry I've no suggestions apart from the join up which did work for you in the past but I know you haven't the time and maybe you want to catch her in less than 3 months! Join up is the only thing that's worked for me when I've tried to catch semi-feral youngsters.

You must be so frustrated. You seem to have exhausted all possibilities. I hope someone comes up with a successful suggestion. Good luck!
 

walkingman

Well-Known Member
Joined
15 June 2009
Messages
284
what happens if you take her friend out the field and leave her on her own?

Fence off a small area in the field and drive her into it, then do join up if she still wont be caught. i've never seen join up work in a large area or if there's another horse in the vicinity.
 

Penny Less

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 March 2009
Messages
6,724
You have tried everything I have tried. Pony I have been looking after for 2 years has decided he doesnt want to be caught by me, lets others catch him. Went through all the things like, is it my hat in the winter, is it when Im wearing sunglasses, is it a rustly coat. Come to conclusion hes just a git!
 

Lobelia_Overhill

Well-Known Member
Joined
23 July 2006
Messages
3,201
Location
...
I used to get someone else to catch my uncatchable pony - she always came to someone else, but never to me! And I tried all of the things you did as well!
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
So glad it's not just me!

Oldmare - yes, exactly, she's been a field ornament for 4 years so nothing "bad" ever happens (except her teeth - and it was the day she had her teeth done that she started playing up again - think it scared her!).

Sunnymane - I think join up is my only option - unfortunately I need help with this. What we did before was to create a mini herd with 1 person holding the other horses in the middle of the field, and she would then run her circles around the "herd". Help is limited at the moment and I can't do it on my own (she runs up and down the field, not circling at all).

walkingman - taking her friend away has no effect, she just calls. Taking away the horses in the next door fields as well as her friend also has no effect. It's not practical to take all the other horses on the yard away as there are 30 of them
lol Driving her into an area is like herding cats. She is more likely to try to jump out, or run over the people driving her, than end up where she's supposed to be. Once there, she is likely to panic and jump out anyway.

Hoffy and Lobelia - I've asked other people to try too - my OH who only ever feeds her so she loves him lol, a friend who normally looks after her if I'm away, and 2 people she doesn't know. They have the same result as I do.

Thanks for the advice and sympathy everyone
If nothing else, at least I know I'm not the only one with an uncatchable horse. I'm feeling very guilty that she doesn't have fly spray on, or suncream on her pink nose. But I suppose she wouldn't have it in the wild and if she wants to play wild ponies, she'll just have to put up with a bit of discomfort!
 

0ldmare

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 September 2004
Messages
7,424
Location
Kent
LOL, I've got the dentist coming in 10 days time and that will be the end getting anywhere near Barney for a few weeks too! (If I get him in the first place ha ha)
 

saddlesore

Well-Known Member
Joined
13 April 2008
Messages
4,430
Location
Wonderland!!
I have the horse from hell to catch also so i feel your pain! Can she be permanently turned out alone? Do you think that would help? Mine goes from pretending i'm very scary when his friends are there to being my best friend on his own
sadly he is in company at the moment so can't catch him! Maybe this would work?
 

jhoward

feed me vino....
Joined
17 July 2007
Messages
14,620
Location
Devon
have you tried catching her off another horse? i dont meen lasso her, but get somebody to ride up to her put a rope around the neck then hop off the ridden horse?

Or can you herd her into the yard?

Build a high leccy fence around her let her eat it down then see if you can catch her?

if all that fails, then the harsh way would be to herd her with a car/4x4 into the yard or some where safe.. even a smaller field.

(can you tell ive been down this path before? its not just yr neddie.)
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
lol we moved fields a week before the dentist came - even though the weather was nice and all the others were out 24/7, I kept bringing her in every night because I knew once she was out, she was OUT lol. It worked - she came in fine for the dentist. Just haven't been able to reliably catch her since - just odd occasions.

Is Barney nervy, or just taking the p***? I think Rana starts by taking the p*** and then scares herself and becomes nervous. Then the ardrenaline kicks in and she's scared
She hated polo, so I think the time of year coinciding with the start of the high goal season really affects her. Or maybe I'm just making excuses for a temperamental stroppy mare with the equine equivalent of PMT. Does she still have hormones at 27?!?!
 

Jericho

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 February 2008
Messages
2,550
Poor you, cant really offer any advice other than you have a clever horse! It sounds like you are doing everything right. Is there any way you can only turn her out in a small field once you finally catch her or will she just jump out? The only other thing I can suggest which I heard worked once was to try to ride another horse in catching her and take a long lunge line and try to get that round her neck (not throwing just slowly draping over and gettting someone else to then come over and put headcollar on - sounds rather risky and not a long term solution.

Will she run when she sees you or just the headcollar? my boy is the sweetest chap in the workd and will always come for a scratch and cuddle but if he spies the headcollar on you he is off. Do you always bring her in when you catch her? Maybe some very repetitive catch/reward/release over weeks might work??? (I am sure you have tried this already!)

Good luck and would be interested to know how you get on..
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
saddlesore - she's fine when she's on her own permanently, she comes straight up to be caught. Can't do it at my current yard though and I'm reluctant to move just for that reason (although there may be another factor later in the year and I will be looking for individual turnout - as she's also a nightmare to settle into a new herd!).

jhoward - she gets very wound up if a new horse comes in her field, and I don't fancy asking the 11 year old girl who owns her field companion (could see an accident there!). There's too many "escape routes" to herd her onto the yard, as we're on a footpath route. The ground is also particularly poor in places and she's likely to run it flat out. I would do it as a very last resort (have done it at previous yard which was much more enclosed). It would be a logistical exercise though - organising 30-odd people to not be doing anything with their horses as Rana flies past them lol. There's not much grazing left anyway, so not sure if restricted grazing would help. She's already in one of the smallest fields, so my only option would be to get her into her stable (and then what do I do with her?!?). She was herded with quadbikes before I got her - she jumped over a 6 foot chain link fence and knackered her tendon


Thank you for the advice - keep it coming
 

jhoward

feed me vino....
Joined
17 July 2007
Messages
14,620
Location
Devon
tent it is then! lol..

i understand the dangers, could you lead the other pony up to her would that make a difference?

*says in very small voice dart gun* (i am kidding.)

your dedication the mare is amazing by the way!
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
Thanks TwoBays.

Yes, she is clever - too bloody clever! Schooling her in her younger years was always a bit of a nightmare - she worked out what you wanted before you'd worked it out yourself lol, and she'd learn dressage tests if you even rode them once.

She's in one of the smallest fields on the yard already, so my only option would be to pen her up inside one of the larger fields - and I don't think she'd stay there for very long. She also needs grazing or she drops weight very quickly.

She runs even when she just sees me and a packet of polo's. She generally tolerates me walking past her on the track (have to walk past the field to get to the gate) but as soon as I open the gate, she knows and starts winding herself up. I've tried stopping on the track and feeding her polo's, but as soon as I stop and then make a move (like to open the packet of polo's), she runs off.

At this time of year, she would normally be caught, fed, groomed (including scratches), fly spray, sun cream, titbit, and off again. She'd only be brought in if the weather was bad - like I'd prefer her to be indoors now as it's so hot and not much shade.

Catch/reward/release makes very little difference. Perhaps because she's not ridden so doesn't anticipate that, and also that I don't bring her in all the time (until winter).

I'm on the verge of paying for my dad to fly down from the Isle of Mull - he's the only person who's ever been able to catch her regularly. Oh life was so much easier when he lived 5 mins from the yard - used to ring him all the time lol.
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
lol, maybe that would work - she attacks things she thinks are dangerous, so maybe she'd run over to the scary tent and I could lassoo her back legs as she tries to kick it down.

Have tried leading Poppy up to her - she still charges off. If I stand with Poppy (she's very obliging and loves fuss!), Rana will usually approach and stand near us, but run off as soon as I move (even if it's away from her).

Dart gun is becoming more and more of an option. Now...where's my nearest zoo, they usually know what they're doing....

In fact, maybe a very good marksman with a shotgun might do the trick. Don't tempt me now....

lol, despite her quirks (and she has more than a few), I love the little beastie to bits. Even when she reduces me to tears of frustration and I want to strangle the old bag. When I first got her, I was only 16 and I was devastated - I took it really personally and thought I'd done something wrong (still feel a bit like that now!!).
 

peanut

Well-Known Member
Joined
21 November 2007
Messages
4,460
The only thing I can suggest is keeping a small area of the field properly/securely fenced for herding her into.

I have a small pony who is almost as bad and this is what i have to do
 

TPO

Well-Known Member
Joined
20 November 2008
Messages
6,955
Location
A ray of sunshine 🌞
No solutions here either, I also have a chstnutty uncatchable mare.

At her worst I can catch her eventually if I bring my other two in or keep her in a small paddock on her own but these aren't always practical solutions. It's so frustrating!

When I worked in Oz with semi-feral/feral horses "join up" (their old school/always used version of it, they hadn't even heard of Monty) and "walking them down" worked really well but I think our horses might just be too domesticated with not enough respect!

Sorry I can't help but I'm feeling your pain!
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
Thanks both.

TPO - that's interesting as mine was bred "wild" in Argentina, caught and broken as a 3 year old and put on a plane to the UK shortly after. She played polo until she was 11, so during the summer she was a pampered pony, but they're left feral over the winter (or they are at the yard she came from anyway). Then she did her tendon and was left out for 3 years - no human contact at all. I wonder if this has something to do with it - that she's never learnt trust or respect for humans. She's definitely got more trust in me than she used to, but I really don't think she respects me very much (I'm the feed bucket lady - that's all she respects and she's not hungry at the moment!).

Oh well, looks like we're doing join up. Maybe I need another post called "how to do join up in a 3 acre field on rock solid ground without injuring elderly arthritic horse who still thinks she's a 3 year old" lol.
 

Rollin

Well-Known Member
Joined
10 March 2008
Messages
4,779
I think you have tried it all. How frustrating. I have one mare who can be difficult but I can usually catch her using join up.

Other than this mare I have never had a problem - BUT all my horses come in to their stables to a reward. Usually their breakfast or dinner, but even if we are going to work they get a handful of something with a carrot in their feed skips.
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
rollin - yep, I do exactly the same. Even if she's just coming in for an hour to have her feet done, she gets a little feed. If I'm just catching her in the field, she'll have a handful of feed just for her supplements. As a bare minimum (if I catch her when I don't think I will, hence no feed), she gets a handful of polo's or I take her out for 10 mins grazing on the track.

I give up. My horse is more intelligent than I am and outwitting her will never work. Unfortunately I think she's also more stubborn than I am so perhaps I should just give up and catch her in October when we move back to the winter fields lol.

Actually, on that note, I was wondering if a bit of reverse psychology might work on her - as in, I don't even TRY to catch her for a week or so, and ask someone to check her over as they walk past (see that she's got 4 legs and no obvious blood). Maybe being completely ignored for a while might just trick her into thinking she wants to be caught.

Or am I just dreaming here?!!?
 

Peacelily

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 May 2009
Messages
719
I just used to get really annoyed and throw what ever I had in my hands in the general direction (bucket, scoop, leadrope, apples, carrots) and stomp off to do more jobs on the yard and try again later. Have got a bit less stressed, I just leave her if she's being that much of a cow. Usually there's an exodus of the fields of an evening and a night out alone soon makes her want to come in either later that evening or in in the morning and have breakfast and see her friends.

Have tried join up things, closing a lunge line round (jumped it), having another horse eating some food as a lure, being in a field with not much food.....blah blah blah....some days she just says no!
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
lol Peacelily, yes I've been known to throw things too. Now I just walk away - I'd rather she "learnt" to get away with it than I frighten her by throwing things at her. Both are counter productive, but on the whole I think leaving her does less damage.

Nice to know I'm not the only one
 

jhoward

feed me vino....
Joined
17 July 2007
Messages
14,620
Location
Devon
list ditch thought.. if you get to a point where you have to catch her.. put a decent amount of acp in her food. basically sedate her..

not ideal i know but if it got the point.

is she better when she knows what routine she is in ie comes in for the day then goes out etc?

if thats the case then id op for the sedation to get hold of her, then establish the routine.

just incase any one thinks its a nuts idea.. pleanty of horses are kept sedated in a box.. if a few acp tablets for a few days is needed to get her used to a rountine, then id rather take this option than her galloping about etc.
 

the watcher

Well-Known Member
Joined
4 November 2004
Messages
15,065
Location
in a happy place
If she was mine I would do the following;

Catch her intitially by leaving a feed out when she is alone which is chock full of sedative, and then once she is very dozy, bring her in and stable her. From then on keep her stabled with very limited turnout on her own in a fieldsafe headcollar until she gets the idea that being caught leads to nice things again. I would also include some kind of calmer in her diet

This could take months though.
 

tania01

Well-Known Member
Joined
12 August 2007
Messages
1,973
Location
Derbyshire
When i read this i would of said you were writing about my horse.

I know exactly how your feeling,i have done all what you have as the chestnut in my siggy is a total total nightmare to catch.

I still can never catch him for day even weeks at a time.

Sorry i can not offer you anymore advise but will be interesting to see if anyone comes up with something not already been done.
 

hussar

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 January 2006
Messages
1,204
Location
Scottish Borders
Haven't read all the replies, so this might have been covered already - but if she's interested in feed, can you set up a smaller paddock and tempt her in by leaving the bucket where she can see it? Once she's in the smaller area, you close it behind her. Doesn't mean you've caught her, but she'd have less space to run around in.

Or would she panic and try to jump/crash out?
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
Have been thinking about the sedative option. I think I'd need huge amounts though, to counteract the adrenaline when she realises I'm trying to catch her. Would ACP/Sedalin be strong enough??

She is better once she's in a routine, but then she'll suddenly break the routine by not being caught (and I do have limited time and patience lol). Turnout alone isn't an option at current yard. Fieldsafe headcollar is a good idea, as there are occasions I can just get close enough to grab her (could add a short piece of thinned out baling string to give me something to hold). She's prone to breaking them, but it's worth a go.

mother_hen - what sort of calmer would you recommend? I have wondered (based on reading past posts which I remember you commented on) about the possibility of her being deficient in magnesium which is affecting her nervous system and making her more mareish than normal (always had problems catching her but this year is the worst since the year I bought her!). Not sure if that would really be a problem at this time of year though?? My thinking was to try a mineral lick containing magnesium to start with (one of the natural ones that you hang up, not a molassed field lick). That might just take the edge off her so I can catch her and start feeding her usual vit/min supplement (which contains magnesium!), and take it from there.

She is a nightmare, because I know one day she'll decide she wants to be caught and come up to me all cutesy and wanting scratches/rugs/food etc. Hopefully she'll decide that soon! Just a pain that my usual tricks aren't working this time.

Thanks for your help everyone!
 

Rana

Well-Known Member
Joined
11 January 2008
Messages
1,450
Location
Berkshire
I have thought about that as there's an electric fenced "patch" in the field (for her friend who's a little prone to weight gain
). I would be worried about her panicking though....

Unfortunately she just isn't tempted by feed - she'll look interested, and then say "nope, there's enough grass here for me". Hazards of having a horse who's lived wild - she knows when she needs me, and when she doesn't!
 
Top