Can you explain the "walk down
method " in more detail?
Our horse fits
your example of "Can't catch". Recently purchased, she did well with
numerous lessons and taking child through fair though we have ended up tricking
her or spending 20 minutes in field trying to lure her. Disrespect and a bad habit?
That's correct, and we need to nip this in the bud right now. Any advice is most
appreciated. Thanks for your time.
Hugill at ASAP
Walk Down Method is described in detail on Cherry
Hill's Horse Information Roundup under Ground Training under an article titled
I repeat part of it here and then below will talk about your situation specifically.
The best method
to use if the horse is moving away from you is the walk down method. You start
in a small space such as a stall or a small pen and you walk toward the horse's
shoulder, not looking him in the eye. When he stops, go up, scratch him on the
neck or withers, then walk away from him. Do this over until you can just walk
up to him in a small space. He will learn that every time you approach him, you
do not necessarily catch him and work him.
move to larger areas. Repeat the procedure.
really the oldest, time-tested way - it does take time and patience. If you discipline
the horse when you finally catch him, it will teach him to not be caught in the
future. So even if you are irritated that you had to walk for 3-5 minutes before
he finally stopped, resist the temptation to give him a scolding or a jerk on
the halter. Instead, give him a scratch and walk away.
you have a round pen, you can free longe the horse until he's got the edge off
him and then tell him "whoa" and then walk up to him. If he moves away
from you, you can exercise him some more.
the horse learns that being caught is his best alternative and nothing bad is
going to happen once he is caught.
So, if you are
starting in a field, you are starting in an area that is too large. You need to
establish the lesson in a stall or small pen first and gradually increase the
size of the area. Like all horse training, you start small and basic and build
on it. The first couple of times will take the longest - it is when most humans
give in and give up. If you are persistent, it will be the beginning of the establishment
of a favorable habit.
Of course, as you have realized,
trickery or luring might work once or twice but soon the horse learns the games
and also figures out how to avoid being caught.
is understandable that many horses that are very easy to catch when they are used
to being groomed or fed after being caught suddenly become very reluctant to being
captured when they associate being caught with working hard during a lesson or
at a show. They no longer look forward to being caught.
why there are certain cardinal rules that you should follow - some Dos and Don'ts.
reward your horse with a soothing rub on the forehead or a scratch on the withers
right as you are catching him.
Do plan to do something
that the horse perceives a pleasurable right after catching, such as feeding or
grooming. Don't immediately go to work.
waiting for me at the gate of her 20 acre pasture every morning so there is no
need for an early morning jingle. As I halter her, I tell her what a great girl
she is and touch her where she wants to be touched, on her forehead and alongside
her neck. Then I immediately lead her to her own private pen and release her.
She finds a handful of wafers and 1/2 pound of alfalfa. All of this is a string
of rewards. She is then free to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet for at least
an hour or so before I return to her pen to gather her up for grooming and tacking.
never want to punish a horse, physically or verbally, directly or indirectly after
you FINALLY catch him. In other words, don't give him a slap or a gruff reprimand
or halter him roughly or stomp off toward the barn in tow. These things will just
reinforce to him that he shouldn't have allowed himself to be caught. Instead,
make a fuss over the horse telling him that he is a "good boy" and be
sure you have a sunny disposition about it, not an irritated or gruff manner.
catch a horse and go directly to something he perceives as negative, such as work
hard. Help him develop a positive association with you and the barn and the arena
so he doesn't view those areas as places where more bad than good occurs........rough
grooming, baths he doesn't like, tight cinch, long lessons, working past his fitness
level, trailering (if he doesn't like it), round and round in the show ring...........none
of these things would be on a horse's list of faves.
you use a little horse psychology, you can change your horse's outlook from avoiding
you to wanting to spend time with you.
Best of luck
and realize that it takes time to make a good horse.