little_mom52

Hard To Catch And Dangerous

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I have a QH mare that has just turned 4. She has always been very quiet and sweet in the pasture. I could always go up to her and catch her with no problem, i could just take hold of her halter and lead her into the barn. Recently, the weather has turned chilly and windy and for two days now, i cant catch her. If i do manage to get near her, and get hold of her, she will pull away and take off and if i persist in trying to catch her, she will run past me and turn her butt and kick out a me while running by me. I have started using a leadrope again to bring her in and that helps somewhat but she has tried to pull it out of my hand and take off. This behaviour is totally new and took me by complete surprise and i almost got kicked in the head. Today was only the second day shes tried it. The first day, i took her out to the arena and lunged her with a good workout and she was better but today she started in again. She is fine any other time and is good to handle once caught and rides really well. I know this is a respect issue and id like to nip it quickly before it becomes a habit but im stumped as to how to correct it without getting hurt as i am now a little leary about approaching her in the pasture. I dont know if this would mean anything or not but this mare is a line bred Skipper W all the way. She does have a quick temper and is stubborn sometimes but has mostly up til now been very managable and easy to work with. What is the best way to correct this respect problem?

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The problem with removing her from the pasture and then lunging her is that you tell her pasture is rest and relax time and coming out means you'll have to work. If you can swing it you'll want to lunge her IN the pasture and then take her out. Do you always take her out and work her? How often does she get structured exercise? My horse acts like a fool in stormy weather sometimes too but not nearly like your mare. I would take a long lunge whip (to protect yourself), chain and lunge line (to give you a longer rope and more bite so she doesn't try and jerk away from you. I would start by going out there and driving her off with the whip before she has a chance to react to you, then through pressure and release start inviting her back to you. So, if she is ignoring you, grazing, walking/running away, or turning her butt to you you'll want to drive her forward (not hard just get her walking) is she tries to run at you, kick at you, etc you'll want to try and connect with that whip and go after her. If she is walking towards you or standing looking at you then assume a passive stance, meaning turn your shoulders so they aren't square on to her, and drop your eyes and head. Give her some time, she may come to you, if she doesn't walk slowly towards her still not looking directly at her until you've caught her. It may take some time of walk, stop, walk, stop, walk, stop before you catch her. Other times I would take her out lunge her (with the chain) in the pasture, not hard, just 5-10 minutes of light trotting and then bring her in and either groom her or put her away. Basically your problem now if the pasture is HER territory and you must reclaim it.

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ALWAYS remove a halter on a horse turned out to pasture....it's a safety issue as they can scratch with a hind foot and catch it, breaking a leg or neck, or hook it on a fence post. And ALWAYS put a lead rope on a halter when catching a horse that is wearing a halter rather than try to lead them in holding onto the halter....it is far to easy to have a horse sling a head at a horsefly or something and hurt you badly if you are holding onto the halter to lead them in... the lead rope gives you some room. In addition, if you are holding onto the halter to bring them in you are putting constant pressure (even if it is just a little bit) on their head, giving them no release from the pressure...eventually they decide they don't want that and learn to avoid it.

DL is right...she has her pasture staked out as her territory and feels she is in control there. You need to work on that as DL described AND you might want to work on getting absolute control in a round pen or large pen of some kind for getting her halter on her whenever you want to....this is one area where bribery works on occasion (not something I recommend usually). Put her in a large pen/round pen and move her around (walking is fine) with a lunge whip or the end of a rope. Tell her "whoa" and stop pushing on her, drop shoulders and eyes and see if she stops and at least turns her head to look to you...if she does, fine, let her stand there for a minute or two. If she doesn't then make her move some more for several minutes. Once she's stopping when you tell her to (a lesson all horses should have...."whoa" is probably the single most important verbal cue you can teach) approach her...don't try to "sneak" up to her...approach as normal. If she looks like she's thinking of stepping away you can tell her "whoa" again and step back to take pressure off of her...if she stops the idea of walking off tell her she's a good girl and step back some more. If she goes ahead and walks off, work her some more. She gets to stand quietly and rest IF she's tolerating your approach. If she's not tolerating your approach by standing still she has to go to work. Keep this up with an approach/retreat pattern for when she's standing still and working when she doesn't. You should be able to get closer and closer to her with her just standing there. Carry your halter with you but even when you get to the point of being right next to her DON'T put it on her....pet her, walk away. Repeat until she's perfectly fine with you walking to her and carrying the halter. Next time rub it on her neck/shoulder/chest and walk away. Next rub it on her cheeks, jaws and walk away. Rub over the top of her neck and walk away. If at any one of these she moves make her work and go back a step or two in the process. Put the halter over her nose but don't fasten it, remove and walk away. You can use a food treat to reinforce the idea that this is a good thing for her to do (unless she is one that gets really pushy about treats). Finally put the halter on and then remove it....do this a dozen times or so. Now comes the fun part....you can either put the lead rope on and lead her OR you can teach her at this point to lead without a lead rope. If at any point in this she runs off and turns her butt toward you or threatens a kick....chase the snot out of her yelling and screaming and swatting her with a lead, the halter, the lunge whip...whatever is in your hands...for about three seconds....she needs to think that she is going to die during that three seconds. This is a "boss mare" action which she understands on an instinctive level. ANY hint of aggression toward you deserves this response. You won't hurt her, you won't make her afraid of you, you WILL earn her respect and she WILL want to make amends and get back to being buddies. Have a huge temper tantrum for those three seconds and then turn away from her and shut it down completely. Ignore her. Turn your back to her. Give her NO attention. She will come to you...it might be turning her head toward you and licking her lips, making chewing motions or it might be to walk right up to you... but she very much will want to get back in your good graces and be part of your herd (in the horse world being chased out of the herd is seriously dangerous for a horse and they know this in their gut). Go back to working with her as if nothing happened. Go stand slightly off to one side and even with her shoulder and facing forward to slightly away from her. Talk to her...soft and quiet...and if she turns her head toward you take a step away...see if she follows...if she does praise her (don't grab the halter!) and pet her. Keep doing this and taking more and more steps as she begins to follow. It's really fun to eventually have them following you all over the place next to your shoulder and without a lead rope on at all. The added advantage to this...she is paying 100% attention to you. With a lead rope on she doesn't really have to pay attention since she can tell where you are by the pressure of the rope. Without it she has to stay focused on you to go where you are going.

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