Un-catchable horse!!!

AnnMarie2011

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I need HELP!!! My 6 year old cob mare who I rescued as a foal has suddenly decided she does not want to be caught! This started in the summer months when her sweet itch was horrendous and it has got worse and worse. She hasn't been caught since her last farrier visit 8 weeks ago and I have the farrier on Thursday! I have tried chasing her round, putting her in a smaller pen, leaving her on her own, letting her walk in from the field without being led. I am literally lost and stuck with what to do next and it is now starting to really get to me! She was always such a good girl so quiet really trusting in me used to walk upto me when I called her, she was wintered out last year on very bad grazing and looking back it was the wrong thing to do but my hands were tied she moved to a new yard in June with my gelding who she has always been turned out with and they are now seperated in mares and geldings fields ( I have tried taking my gelding to her with no succes) and has a lot of grass and is really overwight at the minute. I need to get her in and I have no idea how to tackle this problem which has now escalated way to far! Someone please help me!
 

HorseMaid

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How close will she let you get without running off? What's she like with electric fencing?

My friend hadn't been able to catch her boy for weeks, he was a known bugger for it - we tried everything to no avail and eventually took some electric fence posts and tape into the field and calmy pegged out a circle around him as he grazed, which we then made smaller and smaller until we could catch the sod.

After that he was out on a field safe headcollar with short length of rope attached.

Apart from that I have no advice to give, it must be so frustrating!
 

bonny

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Can you bring all the horses that she’s turned out with in and if so she will probably follow them and if you have a yard or somewhere safe it will be easier to catch her then ?
 

AnnMarie2011

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How close will she let you get without running off? What's she like with electric fencing?

My friend hadn't been able to catch her boy for weeks, he was a known bugger for it - we tried everything to no avail and eventually took some electric fence posts and tape into the field and calmy pegged out a circle around him as he grazed, which we then made smaller and smaller until we could catch the sod.

After that he was out on a field safe headcollar with short length of rope attached.

Apart from that I have no advice to give, it must be so frustrating!
The frustrating thing is she doesn't run off she walks off somedays when I shout her she will canter over to me giving me false hope then turns around and walks off. some days I can close enough to give her a treat then other days she wont come in 10 feet of me! She is very confusing!
 

AnnMarie2011

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Can you bring all the horses that she’s turned out with in and if so she will probably follow them and if you have a yard or somewhere safe it will be easier to catch her then ?
Unfortunately she isn't bothered about being on her own and taking the others out the field makes no difference.
 

GreyDot

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Mine gets really difficult to catch when the flies are around and have irritated his ears. He refuses to be caught if I have a headcollar as he doesn't want it over his ears, but I can very easily sling a rope around his neck and walk him in with me. I know there aren't flies around, but the sweet itch you mention might have irritated her ears and she is just wary of it now.

Can you stand next to her while she grazes? Maybe even give her a tickle or pats, walk away and then try again so you build up the trust? Then put a rope over her, take it away etc. and then build up to just having it round her neck?
 

SpeedyPony

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The best solution I've found is just to keep walking them around until they give in. It will probably take all day the first time, but walk her round and round until she gives in, don't let her stop to graze, don't run, just calmly keep her moving until she will stop to be caught. Then catch her, give her a treat and turn her loose again. Repeat until you can catch her whenever you want. It's time consuming and unbelievably frustrating, but should eventually work. No fun at this time of year mind 🥶😂
 

laura_nash

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The best solution I've found is just to keep walking them around until they give in. It will probably take all day the first time, but walk her round and round until she gives in, don't let her stop to graze, don't run, just calmly keep her moving until she will stop to be caught. Then catch her, give her a treat and turn her loose again. Repeat until you can catch her whenever you want. It's time consuming and unbelievably frustrating, but should eventually work. No fun at this time of year mind 🥶😂
This ^^. You do need to keep going once you start though, even if it does take all day. If you start and then give up, you make things 10x worse.

If you're not confident doing this, you could get an IHRA out, I'm sure they'd be able to help
 

AnnMarie2011

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This ^^. You do need to keep going once you start though, even if it does take all day. If you start and then give up, you make things 10x worse.

If you're not confident doing this, you could get an IHRA out, I'm sure they'd be able to help
when I have caught her she has had her dinner a treat and turned back out, for some reason other people seem to be more succesful at getting her than me which is weird! I think I have already made things 10x worse to be honest because she might aswell be feral now :(
 

Annagain

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My old boy could be a nightmare. 95 times out of 100 he was fine but when he decided he was going to play, I had no chance. He thought catch was a really fun game. He'd circle around me and the second I took a step towards him he was off at full speed to the other end of his 18 acre field where he'd graze until I got there then off he'd go to the other end again. The second I tried to chase him, I was screwed. Walking him down wasn't an option as he'd leg it as far as possible to have as much time as he wanted to eat and do as he pleased before I got there again.

This was my go to with him. When he started circling me, I'd walk off without even looking. I'd get a chair, a bucket of feed and a book. I'd put the bucket of feed under the chair (it needs to be a tall bucket so she can't get her nose in when it's under the chair) sit on it, read my book and do nothing - not even look at him. Within minutes he'd be there trying to get at the food. After about 10 minutes of me ignoring him he'd practically be begging me to catch him. At this point I'd get up and walk away, taking the feed and the chair with me. I'd do the same for the next day or two and by day three, he'd be at the gate when he heard my car. Then he'd get caught, fed and turned out again. The next day I'd catch him and ride and normal service would resume for a couple of months.

You might need to go back a step or two as it's more ingrained in her. I'd cancel the farrier for now (I assume she's not shod and is just due a trim?) to take the pressure off. If she comes when you call, as she reaches you, leave her a small feed (take the other horses out if necessary) and walk away. Do this for a few days, then stay by the bucket while she eats but make no attempt to touch her. Once she's happy with that, give her a scratch while you're standing there, then drape a rope over her neck. Once she's happy with a rope going over her while eating, I'd try the above with the chair. When she's absolutely desperate for the food, drop a leather headcollar over the bucket so she has to put her nose in it to get the food. Once she's doing that happily, slide the headcollar over her neck, take it off again. The next step is to do it up. Once it's on, leave it on but let her go. Keep building it up This will at least make getting hold of her easier if you really need it in future but if you stick with the incremental steps, she might not need it. This whole process might take 3 weeks / a month depending on her progress.
 
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laura_nash

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when I have caught her she has had her dinner a treat and turned back out, for some reason other people seem to be more succesful at getting her than me which is weird! I think I have already made things 10x worse to be honest because she might aswell be feral now :(
I meant once you start walking her down you have to keep going till you catch her. This technique teaches them it's just easier to give in and be caught. I've never known it not work provided you can actually do it (obviously not possible if you can't actually keep them moving due to the size or unevenness of the field or if other horses in the field get involved).

If you start walking them down and then give up after an hour, you've taught them it's worth keeping going as eventually you'll give up. Which means it will take 10x longer for them to give in next time.
 

AnnMarie2011

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My old boy could be a nightmare. 95 times out of 100 he was fine but when he decided he was going to play, I had no chance. He thought catch was a really fun game. He'd circle around me and the second I took a step towards him he was off at full speed to the other end of his 18 acre field where he'd graze until I got there then off he'd go to the other end again. The second I tried to chase him, I was screwed. Walking him down wasn't an option as he'd leg it as far as possible to have as much time as he wanted to eat and do as he pleased before I got there again.

This was my go to with him. When he started circling me, I'd walk off without even looking. I'd get a chair, a bucket of feed and a book. I'd put the bucket of fed under the chair (it needs to be a tall bucket so she can't get her nose in when it's under the chair) sit on it, read my book and do nothing - not even look at him. Within minutes he'd be there trying to get at the food. After about 10 minutes of me ignoring him he'd practically be begging me to catch him. At this point I'd get up and walk away, taking the feed and the chair with me. I'd do the same for the next day or two and by day three, he'd be at the gate when he heard my car. Then he'd get caught, fed and turned out again. The next day I'd catch him as normal and ride.

You might need to go back a step or two as it's more ingrained in her. I'd cancel the farrier for now (I assume she's not shod and is just due a trim?) to take the pressure off. If she comes when you call, as she reaches you, leave her a small feed (take the other horses out if necessary) and walk away. Do this for a few days, then stay by the bucket while she eats but make no attempt to touch her. Once she's happy with that, give her a scratch while you're standing there, then drape a rope over her neck. Once she's happy with a rope going over her while eating, I'd try the above with the chair. When she's absolutely desperate for the food, drop a leather headcollar over the bucket so she has to put her nose in it to get the food. Once she's doing that happily, slide the headcollar over her neck, take it off again. The next step is to do it up. Once it's on, leave it on but let her go. Keep building it up This will at least make getting hold of her easier if you really need it in future but if you stick with the incremental steps, she might not need it. This whole process might take 3 weeks / a month depending on her progress.
She already has a headcollar from when this was a minor issue not the huge problem it is now! If I can get her maybe I could try putting her in a field on her own and doing the process you explained.
 

SpeedyPony

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when I have caught her she has had her dinner a treat and turned back out, for some reason other people seem to be more succesful at getting her than me which is weird! I think I have already made things 10x worse to be honest because she might aswell be feral now :(
Perseverance is the key, it will take longer if you have given up before, but you'll get there eventually. Don't bring her in until you can reliably catch her though, make sure that the only thing she's associating with the headcollar is a treat and being allowed to go back to grazing. High value treats are a good idea as well- something she doesn't get as often/really likes.
Annagain has some good advice, the headcollar over the bucket trick is a good one for food-oriented horses.
 

Annagain

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She already has a headcollar from when this was a minor issue not the huge problem it is now! If I can get her maybe I could try putting her in a field on her own and doing the process you explained.
If you have to catch her to move her somewhere where working with her is possible, the other way (but not a long term solution) is to have a few of you with a long length of rope (electric fence tape does the job) and effectively fence her in with a moving fence and make her space smaller and smaller. If you can herd her towards the gate using this method, even if you can't catch her, you can move her to a space where catching her is easier.
 
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Hepsibah

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The old fashioned way to catch an impossible horse is to control access to water. Fence her into a small area, wait a few hours then offer a bucket of water. If she doesn't come for it, take it away and try again in an hour or so. She will have to drink eventually at which point you clip a rope to the headcollar.
Disclaimer: I do not advocate leaving a horse without water. Offering water every hour is the trick, not leaving them without until they're desperate.
 

Leandy

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If you have to catch her to move her somewhere where working with her is possible, the other way (but not a long term solution) is to have a few of you with a long length of rope (electric fence tape does the job) and effectively fence her in with a moving fence and make her space smaller and smaller. If you can herd her towards the gate using this method, even if you can't catch her, you can move her to a space where catching her is easier.
This is what you need to do. Best to bring the other horses in the field in first if you can. You need to keep it v calm and not have her running around or she will go over or through, or round the rope. Works even better if you use electric tape and they are wary of electric tape. Just slowly corner her until she gives in. Then you need to electric fence a much smaller area for her to live in and only make it large if she is good to catch.
 

Palindrome

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Have you tried a bucket of nuts?
If she is overweight and there is a lot of grass, a grazing muzzle is likely to make her more amenable to be caught.
 

HashRouge

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I have a very tricky to catch gelding. I once couldn't catch him for about three months in a similar set up to what you describe - he was wintering out in a field with a LOT of grass. He went completely feral. The only thing that worked was corralling him. Walking him down doesn't work, by the way, as I know it's been mentioned a few times. I mean, it works in that eventually you can catch him, but it certainly doesn't get any quicker the more you do it. In fact, he gets worse and it takes longer!
What I ended up having to do was to use electric fencing to pen him into a smaller section of the field. Usually I would make a large pen in a corner of the field and bribe him in with a feed, but I've also had to develop various different techniques depending on the size/ shape of the field. Once he is in the electric fence pen, it gets made smaller round him until I can catch him. If he is in one of his wild moods, it has to be stable sized or smaller before he remembers he's not scared of humans and deigns to be caught. It is very interesting watching him while you do this - he will look utterly terrified as you make the pen smaller round him (proper Welsh D wild eyes) and you have to move very slowly so you don't panic him, as I always worry he might try and jump. But as soon as you get the corral small enough, it's like some sort of switch goes in his brain and he suddenly becomes the friendliest, sweetest horse you could hope for. It is like a complete personality shift from one second to the next.
I've also learnt that it is best not to have him out on too much grass, even in winter! At the moment he lives out with his beloved field mate, and is being fairly civilised because they are getting hay in the field and he seems to forget he's supposed to be scared when he's a bit hungry (they're not starving, I should clarify!). I could not keep him in a herd - I wouldn't be able to catch him.
 
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I need HELP!!! My 6 year old cob mare who I rescued as a foal has suddenly decided she does not want to be caught! This started in the summer months when her sweet itch was horrendous and it has got worse and worse. She hasn't been caught since her last farrier visit 8 weeks ago and I have the farrier on Thursday! I have tried chasing her round, putting her in a smaller pen, leaving her on her own, letting her walk in from the field without being led. I am literally lost and stuck with what to do next and it is now starting to really get to me! She was always such a good girl so quiet really trusting in me used to walk upto me when I called her, she was wintered out last year on very bad grazing and looking back it was the wrong thing to do but my hands were tied she moved to a new yard in June with my gelding who she has always been turned out with and they are now seperated in mares and geldings fields ( I have tried taking my gelding to her with no succes) and has a lot of grass and is really overwight at the minute. I need to get her in and I have no idea how to tackle this problem which has now escalated way to far! Someone please help me!
One time I had to section off part of the field so horse couldn’t break up the entire field, let her run circles until was too knackered🤣 Eventually let me catch the little bugger after 2 hours, came back with a very tired pony but a pony nonetheless!!
 

Boulty

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Can't remember the name of the guy whose video I watched (other than he generally comes across as a bit of an arse on most of his videos) but the thing that used to work for me with the worst to catch horse I've ever met (& yes I owned the bugger!) was rather than walking him down in the sense of chasing him (just doesn't work well in a large field if your horse is happy to gallop off to the other end) was trying to keep below the threshold where he felt he had to sod off & to keep blocking the direction he was trying to walk off in & keep turning him around whilst slowly getting closer to him combined with a bit of advance & retreat. Still used to take time though.

At his worst I used to shove a feed scoop up my coat (in hindsight this made not a lot of difference as half the time the sight of it made him run away), hide behind other horses, try to herd him into a smaller paddock & also resorted to sending other people to catch him. He lived feral for weeks at a time sometimes & missed many vet & farrier appts & lessons etc.
 

pistolpete

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May be worth enlisting the help of a behaviourist. There’s some deep seated dislike of being caught for a reason known only to her. My pony spent 12 weeks uncatchable when he first moved yards. It’s so frustrating. With my old horse who occasionally played this game I could shoo him away and he’d come straight back bless him! Pete had his own rules!
 

PurBee

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suggests given are all great and worth trying.

When you do manage to get them in, always give them food in the yard, when they come in from the field - doesnt have to be much, a huge handful of their favourite hay…rather than a haynet/bowl feed.

Then when theyre out, and you wander up to bring them in, they know for sure there’s a wee pile of yumminess waiting in the yard and are eager to come in for that treat.
I call mine and they come running in, saving me from sliding around muddy gate areas too.

Then when that is established, you have field bringing-in ease… you dont have to literally treat them daily as soon as they come in, but often enough so that they are always curious if there’s something delicious waiting in the yard for them.
Theyre animals, they love food, use what works 😄
 

Fern007

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We had a really nervous little Welsh b at work once. Couldn't get anywhere near him. He needed catching to backing him. I got 2 sensible people with a lunge line. We got him in a corner and they walked slowly towards him until he was totally blocked in. I walked quietly up to him and put the headcollar on no bother. It was like oh they got me, I best behave now!! He was a dream to back and ride and after years of being nervous and not being caught He loved coming in!
 

Kaylum

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We had a really nervous little Welsh b at work once. Couldn't get anywhere near him. He needed catching to backing him. I got 2 sensible people with a lunge line. We got him in a corner and they walked slowly towards him until he was totally blocked in. I walked quietly up to him and put the headcollar on no bother. It was like oh they got me, I best behave now!! He was a dream to back and ride and after years of being nervous and not being caught He loved coming in!
Exactly this. You need some help. And then work with her in the school. Doing release and catch. Loose school send her away then turn your back on her and dont look at her. Keep turning away from her until she starts to follow you. Then catch her. You need to be consistent and keep doing this.
 

J&S

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When you get this pony caught, and i feel you will need a sensible, calm team to do this, don't put her back into the same field. Find a very small, well grazed paddock where you can feed her from a bucket once/twice a day. she just doesn't need you at the moment! Once you have established a pattern and also start ground work in hand you should find that she will look to you with more respect.
 

Leandy

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If he is in one of his wild moods, it has to be stable sized or smaller before he remembers he's not scared of humans and deigns to be caught. It is very interesting watching him while you do this - he will look utterly terrified as you make the pen smaller round him (proper Welsh D wild eyes) and you have to move very slowly so you don't panic him, as I always worry he might try and jump. But as soon as you get the corral small enough, it's like some sort of switch goes in his brain and he suddenly becomes the friendliest, sweetest horse you could hope for. It is like a complete personality shift from one second to the next.
Interesting, our hard to catch pony is exactly like this. If she doesn't want to be caught she will do a very good imitation of a nervous, feral, unhandled, straight off the moor pony and act completely wary and frightened of you. As soon as you can get close enough to put a hand on her and give her a scratch, her alter ego of soft, dopy, easy to handle child's pony miraculously appears from nowhere. Infuriating!!
 

Olly's crew

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Feel for you ... my mare occasionally becomes difficult to catch (generally when she is in season) and like you say, will come over, then take off when you try to put head collar on. What I discovered works for her is to take a bucket of her favourite treat, put it on the floor then not allow her to have it until she has a rope around her neck (once the rope is round, the battle is generally won haha). I combine this with,if she walks off, I actively keep her moving so she cannot rest or graze. Eventually she realises it is easier to let me catch her. I do have a big benefit of her being in a small paddock, but maybe combining with earlier suggestion of putting a fence around her to minimise the area available to her? Once caught, she has a field safe headcollar on ..... Good luck x
 
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