Catch your horse

Catching the difficult horse

In an ideal world the horse will always come when called and not just at teatime on a wet February evening when he wants to be in and fed. A horse should be trained to come to you well, by repetition, rewards and kind words and praise. A pat, a few carrots and a nice experience for him and he will come when called. Patience will be required. If you are to catch a horse for hard work or wormers or something he doesnt like, instead of calling him - which he should associate with nice times, walk up to him and quietly pat and catch.

It is most important to always be aware of your safety when catching a horse, never take a bucket into a field, if there are other horses. If you are to reward your horse do it outside the field, not infront of other horses. If the horse is on its own you can use a bucket.

However we all have had the time when we have tried to catch the horse that doesnt want to be caught, and here are a few suggestions, walk gently and quietly towards the side of the horse, talking quietly to him, maybe offering a handfull of grass, dont stare at him, if you think he is about to turn away, you turn first and walk away, he shouldnt feel threatened by you, you may be doing this for some time.

I dont think that hiding the halter behind your back makes any differance but it doesnt want to be waved about either. Horses are curious creatures so you may get closer by calling another horse thats in the field.

It would be ideal if once you are near your horse that it would be pleased to accept the halter, but in reality you probably have one chance to get the lead rope or halter round his neck. If all this fails and the farrier thats waiting is looking at his watch every two minutes the next option is to get help and catch a different horse and start to lead it out of the field, and you will be surprised that yours becomes quite willing to be caught especially if he is the only horse left.


The Ridden Horse

Trust and respect, the horse will do what you ask, his ears forward and listening, moving well, all this is about is trust and respect and is built up over a period of time.

You should be able to tell in what mood the horse is in and you should feel how springy his movement is. The horse should be pleased to work and given clear instructions, be consistent in what you ask and dont get mad. Is the horse trying to dominate you, is it being defensive?  The bond between rider and the horse is so important if you are afraid he will sense it.

Riding Out and Hacking

Ride for miles and miles and nothing goes wrong but.

The behaviour you are likely to meet out hacking is, head tossing, shying, napping, refusal to go past something, wanting to be with a certain horse, kicking,  or wanting to be with the group, with associated stamping, rearing or bucking. There are many reasons why the horse may act in this way such as, fear, flight, herding instinct, and your riding ability.

Your training of the horse, your riding ability and how you handle certain situations either reinforces such behaviour or trains the horse out of it. Or at least makes you expect the behaviour  when riding out or hacking.

Expect a "fresh horse", or a horse thats been stabled, and not been out, to look for problems, and to test your concentration.

Turn the horses head away from potential problems. Ask a vehicle to wait if you are worried that something is to go wrong. Some horses are easily spooked in windy conditions, others find fear in bits of flappy plastic and wont bat an eyelid at a tractor, but in my experience the less fear you show, and demonstrate in your riding position will mean that the scary thing one week is not noticed the following time you go past.

When leaving a group of riders on your horse, remember that it may not want to be seperated as I found out, when I was on the ground recently. If your horse is tensing for a buck turn its head in!

Happy hacking.


Experienced Rider on a young horse

You frequently meet riders who have over horsed themselves, they  have a horse they cant do everything they wanted or expected to do. They wouldnt want a cob but need one.

The reason an experienced rider should be on an inexperienced horse is for the same reasons, it isnt sure, doesnt know, cant or wont do what its expected to do and a novice rider wont make it better only worse.

The experienced rider will have kind hands and nature, the horse will learn to go forward in all aspects of its ability and temperement, in the hands of an inexperieced rider it may learn to fear and falter.


Problems with a stabled horse  

Stable vices (stereotypies) are indicative behavioural presentations of the stabled horse claimed to be born from frustration of inactivity, poor stable management and enviroment.

Boredom, poor air quality, lack of exercise and stress are claimed to cause vices such as crib biting, weaving, box walking and windsucking. But these factors do not affect all horses.

Some horses may be more inclined to be aggressive if they are stressed in a stable as they cannot flee.

The quality of the horses life is also not neccessarily the cause of vices but stabling requires the owner to give more care in stable enviroment, nutrition, excercise and grooming.

The Equine

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