Catching a Horse in a Field


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After looking at horses for sale and buying a horse, you may face an issue that you hadn’t foreseen: catching him when he is loose in his field or pasture. Pastures give horses large areas of freedom, and sometimes they don’t want to be caught. When you’re faced with a horse that is difficult to catch, there are some tactics that you can try.

Leave His Halter On

If you suspect that a horse will be difficult to catch, leave his halter on when you turn him out. Be sure that his halter is either made of leather or equipped with a safety release fuse or leather insert; a nylon halter does not easily break, and if your horse should get himself hung up on something in his pasture, he could injure himself. Wearing a safety halter which will release if he is caught will make your horse easier to catch when it is time for you to bring him inside.

Approach Slowly

Don’t always walk directly to your horse to catch him. Instead, enter the pasture and close the gate behind you. Then, approach your horse using a bit of a serpentine pattern; direct approaches appear assertive and sometimes threatening to a horse. Stand with your horse as he grazes, walk around, pat him, and make your presence enjoyable. By spending a bit of time with your horse before you go to catch him, he won’t always equate your presence to meaning that it is time for him to come in and leave his friends and pasture behind.

Keep the Lead Rope Hidden

As you approach your horse to catch him, keep the lead rope hidden, either in your pocket or behind your back. Walk up to him and pat or scratch him in a place that he enjoys. You can also bring him small treats as he gets to know you so that he learns to enjoy and look forward to your presence.

Catch Him Temporarily

As you’re teaching your horse to let you catch him, it’s important to reward him for letting you approach and catch him in his field. Don’t always bring him in once you’ve caught him; walk out to him with the purpose of just catching him, walking him in a few circles, and letting him go again. Keep the training positive and you will teach your horse that allowing himself to be caught is a positive thing.

Separate Him From Other Horses

If your horse proves to be very challenging to catch, it may be best to turn him out separately from other horses until you work through the issue. Horses in herds can quickly get each other stirred up, making it more difficult to catch an individual horse. Your horse may be reluctant to leave his friends, which will make catching him more complicated. Try to turn him out so that he has his own pasture or field.

With some time and patience you can teach your horse to allow himself to be caught even when he’s in a large field.

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