Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pony Girl: 1, My Boy: 0

There is a reason the crown piece of the halter is twisted. Once I had it on, I wasn't taking it off to fix it!

Are you ready to put on your animal behaviorist and trainer hats? I have a situation for which I can use advice. You know, back in the olden days, one had to buy a book at the shop or head to the library and browse through the card catalog for a book to get good advice. Now, a couple clicks of the mouse and the world is at your fingertips, with people of varied experiences to offer up their help. Isn't it lovely?

You have probably heard me mention that at times, My Boy can be a pill about being caught. This was the selling issue for one of his previous owners. It been a small issue for me, and we have mostly worked through it. But now that the weather is getting cooler and I'm back at work and my horse is spending more time being an independent horse, the issue has reared it's ugly head.

Will he or won't he?

The interesting thing is, it isn't like he turns and runs from me the minute I walk into the pasture with the halter and lead. Well, that's not exactly entirely true. Sometimes, he will come down to the gate and let me catch him. Other times, he will turn and walk a step or two away, then stop and let me catch him. Even on a bad day, he lets me get this nose in the halter. Here's the kicker. It's when I go to put the crown piece of the halter behind his ears to buckle it that he pulls back (and subsequently out of the halter.) Then, he is usually wide-eyed and snorting, like I just electrocuted him. The reapproach is either successful, or, results in a gallop about the pasture.

Look mom, I can run really FAST!

Last Saturday, My Boy did this pulling back out of the halter routine and ended up running himself into a sweat. I thought for sure he was going to slip and break a leg. I was lucky I had time to kill and plenty of daylight left. I did not give up. He ran and ran until steam rose off his back and his sides were heaving. It was probably the best workout he'd had in months. Finally, I got him haltered. I then cooled him out and let him graze before putting him away. If it was work he was dreading, he had nothing to fear. He took care of that himself. In fact, at one point, he ran in large galloping circles around me and his run-in shed. I actually said, "Whoa," and bent down to look at his hiney like I do with his Parelli circling game and he stopped and faced me. Silly horse. I think he relinquished some control there?

Maybe she can't find me if I'm in the back corner?

I have followed this technique of making him work when he won't let me catch him. It seems to be successful, or at least, it has, because I don't give in until he's caught. Although next time, I might bring out the carrot stick and prop it outside the pasture in case things got as bad as they did Saturday. I realized that I do not want it to appear that the halter and lead rope are in any way my "motivators" to run, as I feel like it becomes a "chasing game" and I don't want him to fear the halter and leadrope, goodness, that's half my problem right there!

Here are a few other things I do:

1. As My Boy is pulling away or starting to move away from me, I add "pressure" to make him think it was my idea for him to move off. I do not like giving him the chase, because it does seem like I am confusing him (whoa and let me halter you, no- run from me!)

2. When he stops and faces me, I actually don't reapproach him to be haltered, I reward him by turning my back and walking away back towards the gate. He keeps those eyes firmly on my next move. Usually, at some point he'll start to follow me back down to the gate. Once I've patted him and he relaxes (he is so tense and worked up at this point) I can often put my hand under his chin and just lead him back. It's when I got to halter him again that he is fine, or he panics again and pulls back.

3. Once I have the halter on, I usually give him a treat of some kind as a reward. But not until then. I know many might disagree with this, but I am all about positive reinforcement.

4. I have noticed a few patterns. If I go to catch my horse and it is within an hour or so of feeding time, he is MUCH bigger stinker at being caught. Also, when I have not seen him in a week or so, and, the weather starts getting cooler, he tends to be worse, as well.

5. I will not leave a halter on my horse in the pasture on a daily basis, it is too dangerous, especially since his pasture has metal posts. However, I am considering doing this overnight next Friday because the horseshoer is coming Saturday morning and he has to be out and ready.

I'm sorry, mom!

I know this is a common problem, and I know for many, it often comes and goes. I am lucky my horse is not out in a large pasture. However, his anti-catching antics have also never been quite this bad, in my year and a half with this horse. Any additional advice?

In my next post, my sister Paint Girl needs your advice on another issue, too!


  1. Hi Pony Girl, I don't know if this is helpful advice but this is what I did for my daughters horse that would lift his head up when we tried to bridle him, using the parelli technique I would put pressure on the nobbly bit on his head between his ears and would release the pressure when he would yield and lower his head in the end he would just lower his head everytime we bridled him. Maybe you could throw the lead rope over his neck and hold him while you put his halter on him.Oh I love reading about you Boy :)

  2. I am sorry your BIG pill had to be so bad for you yesterday. As I was getting ready to hit the shower I was keeping an eye on the progress. By the time I got out of the shower I noticed you were still out there working on catching him.
    My Brandy always has been a big pain in the butt to catch. I did the exact same thing as you by making her run, walking away until she came to me etc, she has not been a problem to catch this year, so maybe she finally learned it is easier to be caught than run!
    Brandy taught Fritzy how to run from being caught. She had never done this before I put them into the same pasture together. Sometimes it would take me 20 minutes to catch one and having 2 running wild in the same pasture did not help.
    It seems that my problem with catching has gone away. For now. Although I don't have the same issue with them pulling back when I put the halters on them. They are fine with that. Brandy will sometimes raise her head a bit but not like your boy.
    Hopefully this will not be an ongoing problem for you but I know you and your boy will work it out. He trusts you and with everything you have done with him I know this will get resolved.

  3. How do you go about doing up the crown piece?
    Also, does he ever react negatively when you bridle him? (esp. the slipping behind his ears part)

    Here's how my horses all get caught. First off, if they are hard to catch I do as you do and "chase" them off so they think its MY idea for them to go.
    I never wave my halter or lead at them, just use voice and a bold step in their direction (sometimes with a wave of whichever arm doesn't have the halter).
    I keep chasing them off, even if they decide to stop and face me, for a few more times.
    Now, once they are behaving again, or if they were fine in the first place: I approach them and give them a pat as I put the lead over their neck.
    I open the noseband and slip it on their nose (or let them drop their nose in) and with my arm over their neck I gently do up the crown piece.
    I trainer taught me that key part, to have your arm over their neck. You can step back and remove your arm if they do take off but it usually encourages them to stay and to drop their heads to make haltering (and bridling) easier.

    Hope that is of some help.

  4. ps - I know what a PITA this problem is. When I first got Cessa she was hard to catch. One day it took a few HOURS to catch her. Blazing hot, ended up sweaty with no time to ride. But I caught her.
    We worked quite hard at getting past this and now she is a good girl :)

  5. PG- It sounds me that you have tried all the usual tricks of the trade. Some horses (*cough* Appys *cough*) are too smart for their own good. Sounds to me like no matter what you do he will make up his own mind as to when he wants to get caught. I know a trainer that is really really good to his horses and a real gentle hand but he was a cowboy back in the day and he said that they had a job to do and could not afford to have horses you couldnt catch. He told me in confidence that the only way to get in the head of the tuff ones was to use water as the reward. Horses will go without feed for days, they will work till they drop but thirst will break the hardest of horses. It take a bit of work and some time but he claims it would stick in their heads more than anything else.

    His advice...take all access to water out of the field. Walk into the field with a halter and grain bucket in hand. Stand at the gate (or where your horse can see you) and call your horse and shake the bucket. If the horse does not come, leave. Come back in 12 hours later and try again with the grain. If you still get nothing come back in another 12 hours with a bucket of water and the grain. Keep coming back every morn/eve until he comes in for water but never go out to him...ever! Most horses will come in within 24 hours (they can smell the water) but you must keep going until they come in (dont give up, remember that if he is that thirsty, he will come). When they do, turn them in with hay and all the water they want. The next day turn them out and again dont give them water till they will come to you for it. He said it works really well long term. I have not had that tough of a horse and the methods you use are what I have used in the past. This water thing is a tough way to train a horse, it would be the last thing you use but if nothing else is working, you have to try something! IMHO it is really important that your horse can be caught in case of emergency. Btw, He said that you might have to keep this up on and off again if they start to not come in but it should stick with them once they get it! I'd try what others suggest first but I have a feeling that My Boy is a little smarter than your average bear and might require a bit stronger of hand.

    ** I am very tired, hope this makes sense***

  6. Cdncowgirl~ My Boy is fine about bridling. I have taught him to drop his head to pressure. I will try that when haltering though, and an arm of his neck. But I call him "Saddlebred head" because he can get that neck up and he's tall and I'm short, LOL! :) I won't put the leadrope around his neck and loop it because if he pulls back and gets away, I don't want him dragging the halter out of my hands around the pasture and getting a leg caught in it. I could at least drape it around for some leverage, but even getting the leadrope around, he would probably get spooky. I can't explain it, but sometimes just putting the reins over his head (especially brand new white yachting rope reins) he gets kind of freaked. Other times, he could care less.

    AHCM~ I have heard of this withholding water technique. Interestingly, at a clinic. A woman said that at the Parelli training center (where her daughter took their horses and trained for 6 weeks), the horses are brought out to water so that it makes them more dependent on their handler? I am not sure if their is truth to this.
    It sounds effective but nearly impossible for me since I do not live on the property My Boy is on, and I'm 45 minutes away (one way), it's just not possible. I don't see him every day and now that it is getting dark earlier and I'm working again, sometimes I only see him on the weekends.

  7. This sentence struck me as I was reading the rest of your post:
    "Even on a bad day, he lets me get his nose in the halter. Here's the kicker. It's when I go to put the crown piece of the halter behind his ears to buckle it that he pulls back (and subsequently out of the halter.)"

    Here's something to chew on. Maybe you want to try a different way of putting the halter on. (You might want to try this a few times with a second halter after you've already got him caught, just so you're sure you've got the hang of it for next time.)

    This is hard to explain but very easy to do.

    Take the long piece that goes into the buckle - the halter strap - in your left hand.

    Drape the lead rope over your left elbow.

    Move your left hand behind his jowl, under his neck.

    Grab the halter strap with your right hand from over the top of his neck.

    Let go of the halter with your left hand and slide it down to hold the lead rope.

    Now he's caught.

    With your left hand, bring the nose band of the halter over his nose and then buckle the halter.

  8. th7msn has a good explanation of a good technique. I might add wrapping the lead around his neck so he can't leave before you buckle it. I had a horse a lot like yours once (in regards to the catching thing) and if he bolted before I got the halter tied on he was gone, whether I had my hand over the top of his head or not.

    Have you tried, instead of chasing him, walking away when he runs? Make it look like his stupid idea to run off, whereas it's your wonderful idea to just stand there? Then do something that might catch his attention and make him want to come back, like love on his pasture mates. But I don't think MyBoy has pasture mates so you'd have to think of something else to pique his curiosity. Maybe just sit down and read a book and start eating an apple or something. I've had this work recently, but the runner was not dead-set on being a freak that day. He's not my horse so I don't have an opportunity to try it often.

    The thing I do with my one horse who is sometimes reluctant, I just follow her. Which she takes as me chasing her sometimes, but others she just kind of sighs and gives in.

    My sister has a horse who tries to walk away, but she's taught him the verbal command "whoa" so well that if she says it, he stops and stands there like, "Oh man, she caught me."

    Hope you find a solution.

    Oh, one last thought. Could there be something wrong with his ears or with his spine in the poll area, or maybe even under his jaw? It's weird that he reacts like he's been shocked when you try to buckle the halter, and he looks genuinely scared in the pictures.

  9. LOL, Ain't halter tag fun? I think it's that time of year.Mine always get sassier in the fall when the air is crisp. Mrs Mom had a good post up a few months ago related to this very thing. It was a good post about going out there with a mission. They notice the "mission".

  10. I always put the rope around their necks when I catch them. I take the end of the lead rope and just drape it around their necks, so if they want to run off I can grab the rope and catch them before they act silly.

    You could get a halter that has a buckle under the jaw. That way you put the halter on just like a headstall and then just snap the buckle.

    I think the "make them run" game works. I tried it with a young horse and it didn't work. Babies have some energy. I am a sucker and I will go out with a feed bucket. So wrong I know. The way to a horses heart is through his stomach, so I am all about bribing them to be good.

    I think if you put the lead rope draped around his neck, he might just stop acting like that. It kinda sounds like he knows exactly how to "escape" and loves the game. I would definatly try the lead rope around his neck. ANd if you are worried that it would stay around his neck when he would fly back, then unattach it from the halter. I have never had a horse get his leg stuck in his halter when I had the rope around his neck. You probably could lead your horse around with just the rope around his neck.

    Now I am rambling. Good luck and I hope it gets better.

  11. Not much pisses me off more than a horse who does not like to be caught, and God knows I have more than my share of them. I have had them all so long though that I know which ones will stop in a second and which ones are going to be a whole other deal. I would work harder on fixing it, but with some of them, I figure they are closer to dying of old age than learning how to act right at this point!

    The lead over the neck really does work, and I just loosly tie it, it will be so loose that you can grab an end of it as he bolts on you, if he does.

    you would also try using a breakaway halter if you want to leave it on him in the pasture--that way if he hangs himself up, it will pop and he wont get hurt

  12. PG - Just to clarify, the lead rope is just draped over the horse's neck. I also worry that if they were to get away they would get their leg caught in a loop!
    If you think tossing the lead rope over his neck would freak him out try starting with putting it over his back or withers and gradually work to where you toss it over his neck.
    Applejack (our Appy) didn't like the lead being put over his neck at first either. I started out with it over his withers (as I described above) Now I can toss it over his neck and he just stands there.
    I started doing this while working on getting Cessa out of her hard to catch phase. If she tried to take off I'd grab the two sides of the rope so it put pressure on her neck and she felt caught (not a lot of pressure, just so that both sides of her neck were touched, then she thought it was a loop on her neck). Now my horses just stand once the lead rope draped on their necks because they THINK they're caught and secured.

  13. Everyone else already echoed my thoughts. Lostine always runs as soon as she sees me walk through the gate with a halter. I've tried a variety of tricks, but because they are tricks she eventually catches on and I have to change my M.O. The one I'm doing now, which won't help you, is that I pretend like I am going to halter another horse. She immediately runs up and stands behind me. I then turn and pet her, then hug her around the neck and slip the halter on.

    I have also thrown the rope at her rump as she ran away and continued to calmly stalk her while tossing the rope (gently) at her rump. She would then give up and turn toward me. I don't think that tossing the rope at her makes her afraid of it. If anything, it mimicks a dominant horse moving her around and sending her off until she asks to be invited back in.

    I also mix it up by sometimes leading her out to graze or leading her out to a bucket of grain once she is haltered. That way she doesn't always associate the halter with being trailered or ridden. Of course, none of these techniques work permanently, because Lostine still runs from the halter for the most part. Other days she greets me at the gate.

  14. Okay, I'm about to fall asleep so I don't have time to read all the other comments, so forgive me if this is repetitive. I would definitely put the lead rope over his neck when you're catching him. The more often he gets away from you, the sooner he's going to figure out he's bigger, stronger, and potentially smarter. Don't worry, my big problem with Yellow's loading was that I let him figure out he was bigger and stronger and thus, the major downfall in our training.

    Second, it sounds like you need to make a lesson out of it. While I don't agree with the treats, I think there are other ways to give him the positive reinforcement working off of release. I would recommend some round penning, then poll pressure exercises. Basically, if you can get your horse to drop his head down into his halter, and he knows that pressure on his poll means to drop, he should know better than to raise his head out of the halter.

    I plan on doing similar stuff with Yellow (whenever I have time) because he's getting weird about being bridled. Now, off to bed.

  15. Oh, and if he freaks out about reins or ropes going around his neck, do it more often! C'mon lady, he can't win them all!

  16. My Boy is an angel and you'd better be nice to him or your cousin is going to get after you! Seriously, try these things that your bloggers suggest and use what works - even combinations of these things, but one way or another, he's gonna figure out that he doesnt want you mad at him.

  17. I only have a tidbit to add...I always, ALWAYS put a leadrope around our horses necks when catching them. It really is safer Pony Girl!! I've had some that would like to spin away and sometimes they might just add a little kick of the heels to show you how good they feel. So if you fear that The Pill will try to pull away...loop it around his neck and then cross the loose end over the end attached to the halter.
    Now to help teach that big appy pill to lower his head for you...I had to teach this to Turk, the paint gelding, because he was BAD about raising his head as high as he could when you went to halter him. My mom is short and has bad shoulders, so she couldn't get him haltered... Use the lead rope around his neck to make him move a step or two, either forward or toward you. Making him move his feet will help take his mind off of getting away. Now slide the loop you made out of the leadrope up behind his poll and pull straight down under his jaw. Hold that pressure until he drops his head. Repeat until he drops his head and keeps it down, low enough for your to have your arm over his neck. Now keep your arm over his neck and bring the halter up. Grab the crownpiece of the halter with the hand over his neck and slide the noseband on. Buckle your halter! If he raises his head at any time, use the leadrope to make him give to the pressure again. Only proceed when he drops his head and keeps it down where you can comfortably have your hand over his neck. Don't be afraid to make him move his feet either. He has to relax his neck and poll to move those feet. That only makes him more willing to drop his head.

    Nope, you are not done yet...take the leadrope off of his neck. Move his feet again. Just a few steps will do. Now pull on the leadrope, straight down, until he drops his head as low as you want him too and will keep it there. You may be able to get him to go all the way to the ground from the very first day or you may have to work on it.

    My barrel horse is HORRIBLE about being caught. No amount of round penning helps. He is too smart for that. I just have to get him in a corner or along a wall and wait for him to look at me. He is really good about avoiding eye contact. He knows when he looks at me the gig is up. Actually, it is pretty funny. He will suddenly get very interested in something far away. I just step around my "spot", like I am doing some sort of a waltz, until I put enough pressure on him that he has to look at me. He is a very strange horse.

  18. Lots of good advice Pony Girl, I loved reading all the comments. I don't have anyone hard to catch at the moment but have had over the years. My little rescue pony is VERY head shy around his ears, obviously from the abuse so I have to be really careful. I do loop just the lead rope around his neck, not with the halter attached, and then put the halter on once he isn't scared any more. So sad, abuse affects them for life. He's MUCH better and trusts us so much more now but still has lingering issues that I think he will always have.

  19. Hey I know I am day late and a dollar short on this one but here are my thoughts to you. 1) Sugar cubes. You have mentioned before that your boy LOVES food so if I were you I would give him a sugar cube either on the ground or on another lower surface as soon as you start the haltering process. This can also work with a carrot, especially if you put it down by your knees and part of it is sticking out. He will be so interested in the carrot he might forget to pull back and run. 2) Have you tried a rope halter? I think they are faster to put on...and also once you have the crown piece over his head you can use it to apply a bit of pressure before it is even latched. And since you toss it behind his ears and not over his ears and it is so thin he might be less likely to pull back at all. 3) I know others have said it but a long cotton lead rope that you can toss over his neck and hold onto while you put the halter on can be worth its weight in gold. Then he can try to get away, but since you have "caught him" he isn't going to be able to go very far. 4) is catch and release. I am not sure how far away you live from you sisters but I bet it would do you a world of good if you literally just went up there to catch him some days. If he is nice to halter give him lots of praise and a pat and then go home. That way he never knows what to expect from you and Mr. Independent will not see you and assume time away from you. 5) This is a very European thing to do but have you thought about a head collar for him? I know, I know...he is a horse not a dog, but a head collar attaches just behind the ears like a dog color and they still work like halters. Since he is being so dramatic about being haltered it is a thought. Good luck with it all and just remind yourself that he wouldn't be a horse if he did everything you wanted when you wanted it done.

  20. I have an appy at home that used to be an absolute PILL to catch. He is 22-years-old and was kind of set in his ways when we got him. I have the advantage that my horses are at home, so I can run out to the pasture at any point and catch him for no reason at all.

    And that's what I did. I'd go out there...catch him, at first it took 45 minutes or longer, but it has gotten MUCH better. I'd catch him, pet him or brush him, give him a treat or take him out for a walk or a graze...then release him. Every now and then he'd get ridden. But he'd never know why he was being caught and eventually he gave up running away. Sometimes I'd go out there, put the halter on, tell him he was a good boy, take it off and leave.

    When he was running away I went through every method in the book and found that with him, turning the running away in to MY choice, rather than his, worked the best. If I walked out to catch him and he ran, I'd keep him running. After a few rounds around the pasture, I'd let him stop, attempt to approach and catch again, and if he moved away, even one little step, it became MY choice to move him, not his, and I kept him moving until it was MY choice to let him stop, not his.

    Eventually, he figured out that getting caught was easier than running. The first few times were tough on both of us, hot and sweaty, but it only takes a couple of those sessions for them to figure out that being caught is the easiest thing.

    A safety halter, one that has a leather crown, is designed for turnout. They will break under pressure. And I second the suggestion at getting one of the halters that have a snap on the side so you have to slide the crown over the head like a bridle, rather than having to flip the strap over his poll.

  21. OMG! you're a Gus fan, too. he sets the bar.

  22. So many good suggestions, and I would just like to add my two cents.

    I run a boarding stable and I have seen my clients chase horses until they have no time left to ride. The horses know that when the client shows up, it means work. A couple of the clients notice I NEVER have a problem catching their horses, and wanted to know what my secret is.

    I have a couple of them.

    One is - keep your goal in mind, You want to ride the horse. Your horse does not have to WANT to be ridden, it just has to do it's job. So anything that works is fair game.

    With that, I do not let a horse SEE the halter or the lead rope. I do not use anything with clanking metal. I hide them in my jacket, up my blouse, behind my back, etc. Sometimes I just use a piece of baling twine stuck in my back pocket. When I have the horse under control, then the equipment comes out.

    I use starlight (red and white) mints in cellophane wrappers as treats. I make the horse watch me unwrap the mint. I have horses so in love with these mints that once, I led three of them back to the farm after a break out without a lead, just by crinkling the mint wrapper.

    I give them mints when I don't want anything from them, as well as when I do. That way, the plan is always MINE and they are quite calm, not thinking about out smarting me.

    As some of the others have suggested, I do not put the halter on in the field. I lead the horse up to the barn with a lead rope draped around the neck, not tied, the two ends held in my hand and a firm WALK ON issued. I put the halter on when we get to the barn. This way, if there is an escape, no horse is running around the field with a dangling rope and a half done halter.

    Also, another thing I have done is get my horses to COME to me in the barn. If they know whenever I am in the barn that something interesting is going on, they will always come and check. I holler "CMON" if I want them in, and then I stand in the aisle like a traffic controller. As they come in the barn in their pecking order, I direct them with hand signals into their individual stalls.

    In short, getting your horse to NOT associate your presence in the field with work, might be the ticket, because once you have them under control, they are committed.

  23. PG, many, many excellent ideas and tools for you to try. I'm not convinced that being caught is his only issue. I would also include a lot of rope work thrown in for good measure after he's caught and rewarded etc. Use a large diameter, soft cotton rope and rub, swing, circle it everywhere - not just his head/poll area (even though that is the major problem zone)and do this often. Teach him that no rope or hand anywhere on his body will ever give him a reason to fear. Don't give up on him - he's just a horse. He's got some issue from his past that he needs to work through. Don't let him outsmart you. Good luck!

  24. I'm working my way through all your comments. And wow! You've got some terrific readers full of great advice.

    (knock on wood) I'm very gratful now that my mare has never avoide me haltering her. In fact when she even sees me walking toward her, she'll trot straight up to the gate to greet me. And if I have a halter, she bends he head down and tucks her nose right into the halter lickety split and as gentle as a lamb.

    As a fairly new horse owner (only 8months) this is something I am never going to take for granted after reading about what a frustrating issue this can be.

    Obviously my mare has been very well trained and treated well throughout her life and she loves people and actively seeks us out.

    She also adores food and will do anything for it.

    I know you are not happy about giving treats unless you feel a horse has earned them, but some horses, I think, just respind better to treats in training.

    I wonder if handsome smart My Boy is one of them?

    When I first brought Baby Doll home, I inadvertantly trained her to be very happy to see me anytime she saw me.

    Sometimes I'd be carrying a halter, and sometimes not.

    But I usually always carried horse cookies, a carrot, or a small handful of hay.
    And sometimes I didn't.

    But I think the key was that my presence didn't mean automatic work for her. And quite often it meant treats and grooming and petting.

    Sometimes I'd just carry my chair in her paddock, and a magazine or book, and (try) to read.

    Baby Doll prefers my attention on her! hehe
    But after scratching, petting a talking to her a bit, she's happy to just stand near me while I read.

    It's our bonding time. :)

    I think all those weeks of doing that (and still doing this) has made my sweet gal realize that having me around does not always mean that she has to go to work.

    Sometimes we just hang out together and eat cookies.

    Isn't that what good buddies do?

    So grab a bag of cookies (for you and for My Boy). Some reading material for you and a relaxing chair and just hang out and have fun with your gorgeous boy.

    Consider it training. Because it will be :)


  25. Since you are a teacher you probably know all about operant conditioning and that is what I use. I use a clicker to mark the desired behavior and I reward it with alfalfa pellets. Here is how I would handle it if he were mine.

    1. go out without a halter

    2. go near him but far enough away he had to take at least one step toward me, click that, reward him with a few pellets.

    3. move away another few steps, click and reward any forward motion to you.

    4. move another few steps etc.

    this really is no different than teaching a dog to come when called. Even with my most reliable dogs, they get a treat every time I call them if I can possibly do so in order to keep that recall strong.

    As for the haltering, I do not believe he is fussy about his ears, if the bridle is not a problem. However, he probably does know that once the crown piece of the halter is on, he is caught. So he aborts the catching at the point just before he is caught.

    I would put the nose piece on, click/reward, remove nose from halter. Repeat. Then I would slide the halter over his face a little more, click/reward if he sticks around. And further etc. The first time you get the halter all the way on, click and treat, then take it off and call it a day.

    Right now haltering = being caught. I would change that to mean haltering = food.

    Before you know it, you will be able to fade the clicker. I probably wouldn't ever fade the food. I'd probably treat him every chance I had after getting the halter on him so the behavior stayed strong.

    As for using food as a bribe...this is not a bribe. He must emit a behavior before he gets the food. A bribe is where you offer the food FIRST in exchange for behavior. I very seldom do that. Some of the best trainers in the world have used food in their training programs. If you are so inclined look up Sue Ailsby (she has llamas as well as dogs), Shirley Chong, Victoria Farrington, Bob and Marion Bailey (both of whom worked for the federal government and used food extensively). Zoo handlers now use food and a marker to train their husbandry behaviors. If it is good enough for the likes of Bob Bailey....shrug

  26. You have a whole book here but I liked what cdncowgirl said about chasing him away. I did this with my mare when she got pillish. I would keep her moving around me at a trot until she dropped her head and started to chomp her mouth, as Parelli explains. She would then stop, and let me approach and not move. It was a now and then thing, of course.

    Working on a horse breeding farm, I learned a better way to halter. Can I remember how I do it now? I stand on horse's left, facing forward, same direction as horse does. I am facing forward. My right hand goes under the throatlatch with unbuckled halter in hand...I may also drape the rope around the Pill's neck first, too, to keep him from charging off....but hold on! Okay, crownpiece goes over his crown as I slip the nose piece over nose, all at one time. Quickly buckle the crown piece and he is yours. This seemed to work well with spooky mares, babies and stud horses...Good luck with Senor Pill!

  27. I am sorry not to read all the posts to this question so I may be repeating something some one has said. But.... the first thing is to "catch him". Put the lead around his neck so he knows he is caught before you try to halter him. If he wants to run, he can during the halter process but will find it harder with the lead around his neck. " My boy" has never ran but there have been a few times his pasture buddy's have been nearby making him nervous so I throw the lead over his neck and at the slightest try to move I say agh...... and he stands till I get the halter on. Now I know you are dealing with years of other owner handling and possible mistakes so this is a "process". I have been told by one trainer to never catch with a treat because if you need to catch them some where without a treat you are up a creek. This proved very interesting once when I had to catch my VET'S mule that got away from us on a trial ride. He ran from his owner..but because Auntie J always gives him treats he not only stood there for me but walked towards me high up on a desert cliff to be caught. All the advise you have been given is good, you just need to find out which of it works for you and your boy.

  28. Yes, one click and things are at your fingertips. Especially in this wonderful horsey blog world.
    I do not have advice because I have very little knowledge, but I am so glad you put this post up so I can read all the advice and learn myself.

    Happy horsin' around!

  29. My beloved AJ, you posted a comment on my blog!! Thank you! Miss you, wish I could ride with you and mom this weekend!


I love hearing from my readers!! I truly enjoy all of your feedback, advice, helpful tips, and stories. You all make me laugh and I learn so much from you, too. I will try to post replies to your comments as often as I can.

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin