In this issue 4* Parelli Professional Lyla Cansfield provides advice on how to catch your horse or pony when things go wrong!
Have you ever noticed how horses are very willing to come up and see you when you’re doing the poo picking or something that doesn’t involve them?
Horses have evolved over thousands of years to escape predatory behaviour so it’s in their nature to know how to escape from us. Every time we creep up on them and grab hold of the headcollar we’ve just proved to them that we are going to behave like a predator, creep up and trap them.
Getting your horse in a better frame of mind to be caught is going to take some time and patience but it’ll be worth it.
One of the best things you can do to start with is go and spend some time in your horses’ field with no agenda. Take a headcollar with you and a good book, go sit somewhere and chill out. This lets him know that just because you turned up doesn’t mean you’re after him.
Next you’re going to teach your horse to catch you. Walk towards your horse with the headcollar in full view, if he walks away, follow him but only at the same pace, no faster, as soon as he stops, you stop, if he looks at you take a step back and wait. Wait for him to process this – you will see him lick and chew, or go back to eating grass. Approach again, if he walks away, follow the same procedure, if he stands still but then lifts his head to focus on you, stop, wait for him to process, then start walking towards him again. Repeat this process until you can approach him.
This is teaching him that you will take the pressure off when he does what you want, when he does what you don’t want then you are going to keep some pressure on by following him.
If at any point he walks towards you, walk away from him a little slower than he is so he can catch you, this is taking the pressure off even more to reward him.
When you get to him, or him to you, give him a rub, good scratch or treat, whatever you prefer to reward him. Get him relaxed with you so he’s not thinking about walking off before you offer him your headcollar and rope to sniff. Some horses will want to have a good chew on it so make sure it’s not your best show gear! Allow him to investigate your tools a bit.
Now see how he feels about putting the headcollar on. If he leaves then just follow the same procedure from the beginning. Keep going until you can approach and put the headcollar on.
Ideally, in the first few sessions, when you do get the headcollar on, reward him, take it off and leave or bring him in to a nice feed and finish for the day. This way you are making sure that being caught is all a positive experience for him.
For more information contact Parelli Natural Horsemanship UK on 0800 0234 813 or visit www.parelli.com