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Need help catching an 8 month old filly

I have an 8 month old filly - palomino/quarter horse - beautiful! She was born in Texas and has come to us in Colorado just a month ago.

My question is… What are some methods of catching a young horse? She is halter broke, will lead just fine, even ties and enjoys to be lounged - all this only AFTER I catch her - lately, she seems to make a game of it…lets see how long Mom will try… I have to trick her by getting her to put her head over the railing and hook the lead-line while she is enjoying a nice bit of alfalfa… She will let my 6-year-old daughter catch her more often than me…

Also, what are some basic skills I should focus on with her at this age?

I enjoy your website. I hope that when you are in Colorado, I will be able to meet you at one of your seminars. Looking forward to your response,
Lisa Vicknair

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for your question. First off I stopped trying to catch horses many years ago. Now, they catch me. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Its the reason your 6 year old has an easier time getting with the horse initially. We adult humans are very task oriented, especially with horses. Your daughter is not and the horse knows it. Also, if you keep bringing him food in order to trick him, this behavior will worsen if you don't have food. Furthermore, if he does come over, it will always be about the food and not about you. The solution to your problem, I believe, lies in changing your mind.

First off, drop your agenda as your primary intention. Now your agenda is to 'capture' him to give him a training lesson. I want to suggest that you stop trying to capture him and, rather, focus on the relationship with the horse, more like your daughter does. I'll clarify this....Your overall intention and 'energetic' with your daughter is to be only truly kind and helpful, to help her to know she is safe and can trust that she will be safe when she is with you. Additionally, you remain connected to your daughter, consciously, all the time. There is an energetic feel to this connection. You have goals with her, and for her, that is great. But, before that, is the 'relationship' of the great parent/leader to the child. It is through developing the relationship first, that bonding, good communication, trust and respect happen, not through any 'tasks' that you have in mind for your daughter. All you did in her early years was to nature and support her growth. You are still doing that and will continue with that as part of your intention with her forever. There was no task agenda initially. This is what I suggest you do with this Equine baby more, and that the 'training' agenda come after a better/bigger bond has been established.

Personally, I want to become Gandhi for the horse. I want to become the super great, kind, compassionate, thoughtful, respectful, sensitive, self-aware, mindful, loving, CONFIDENT, great parent/leader. I want to be able to say “NO” and have it stick w/o domination, control, inducing fear or anything like that. I want the child/horse to do as I say, to come right to me when I show up, to stay with me and follow me around, to do tricks and wonderful athletic things with and for me.....all because it wants to. The way to have this happen quickly is to go out in the pasture with the baby and her herd mates, and just be there with them. When the baby does come to greet you, which it will in a fairly short period of time, pet it, stroke it, talk to it, and make your time with that horse as pleasant and comforting to the baby as possible. THEN LEAVE! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO GRAB THE BABY IN ANY WAY! The next day go to the horses again and do the same thing. Do the same for any other horses in the group. I would do this as often as you can, even twice a day sometimes, AM & PM. If the baby gets too playful and begins to put you in jeopardy in any way, fend him off. Send him away from you by waving your arms at him or wave a coiled rope towards him (carry a rope and halter with you all the time, but do not use it). Your love and thoughtful treatment of this horse will become the carrot he looks for. He is looking for a parent/leader all the time, every second. Don't become a task master, a disciplinarian or a punisher. Don't show him who's boss. Become his partner, the leader of the dance, the one who knows how to make him feel SAFE. Become a sanctuary, Gandhi, a place of safety and peace for the horse. Have that be what you do all the time, but focus on it and exclude everything else, for a little while. After you have done this and the horse is following you all over the field w/o carrots or being haltered, because he wants to, then halter him and do something, make it a game, have a dance with you as the leader. Always remember to go back and do this with your horses on a regular basis. It will help keep your bond strong.

Once the baby is hangin' with you in the pasture, you can do some things about manners while he is at liberty out there. When fending him off, only use as little 'noise' or 'go away' as possible. Just enough to get the job done. The instant he begins to 'go away', drop your hands, say "HO!” and begin to back up a few steps. Quickly or after only a few times, he will immediately stop going away and turn and face you. Then you stop moving and tell him he's a "GOOD BOY". At this point you have the option of making a slight gesture towards him and saying "Back up" (if he takes a step back tell him he's a "GOOD BOY" or you back up and call him to you. If he begins to walk towards you, tell him he's a "GOOD BOY". What you are doing here is socializing/acclimating him to being with you, with you actively leading the ‘dance’. You also set up a winning cycle for him by making a request and giving him praise when he does it. Also, he will begin to understand that you have boundaries, as he does, and they need to be respected. You are making him a winner with you. Make the simplest of moves, like coming with you, turning right or left, definite and concise requests. Praise him every time he does what you ask. You don't even have to touch him to say thank you. Just tell him he's a "GOOD BOY". Some of the additional ground skills I would like to suggest are asking him to yield his front end, his hind end, turning on the forehand and on the haunches, flexing his neck in both directions (everything should be done in both directions and from both sides) and of course, backing and stopping on request. When I train, I make these things fun for the horse. I am not a task master or disciplinarian. You don't need to be either. Be the consistent 'great Mom' as you are for your daughter (patient, kind, a great leader, loving, supportive). Even though it’s a horse, he really wants and needs the same great parent. That is what he is looking for all his life. They never really grow up in a way where they don't want you to be the leader.

Anyway, keep me posted. I really want to know how it goes. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer suggestions. I hope I have helped. Again, please keep me posted of how it goes.

Aloha, Franklin

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