Catching a Loose Horse


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If a horse escapes from its pasture or handler, it can create a major safety issue. Loose horses are at risk of injuring themselves and others, especially if there are nearby roads. When catching a loose horse, it is important to act quickly and calmly.

Stay Calm

If a horse escapes on your property, stay calm. Panicking and running after the horse will only encourage him to run faster. Take a deep breath and gather the items that you will need. If the horse is not wearing a halter, get a halter that you can easily slip on him. Make sure that you have a lead line. Also take a moment to put some grain into a bucket. You can rattle the grain around as you approach the horse; many horses will eagerly approach you if they know that you have food.

Get Help

Alert other people at the agistment to the fact that there is a horse loose, and enlist them to help you. Even if you think you’ll be able to easily catch the horse on your own, it is important to let others know that a horse is loose, and they can be on hand to assist you if you should need it. It’s especially important to spread the word about a loose horse if other people are riding at the time; the activity might excite their horses and cause them to spook.

Contain the Horse

If your property is enclosed by a border fence, then the first thing you should do is to close the gates to prevent the horse from getting to the road. If you do not have gates to close but do have small areas through which the horse can escape, you might send a person out to stand in each of these areas to keep the horse from leaving the property. Driveways sometimes channel horses right out of the property and into the road; it’s important to make sure that these points are blocked off.

Approach Slowly

If the horse is running around the property, give him time to calm himself down. Wait until he’s at a walk or a standstill before you approach; if you try to do so before that, you will likely only keep driving him forward.

When the horse is calm, approach him slowly and quietly. Be sure that you are in control of your emotions – if you are angry or worked up over the horse’s escape, he will pick up on this and be difficult to catch. If your horse is not wearing a halter, loop the lead rope over his neck to secure him before you put on his halter. Pat him and let him know that he’s done the correct thing by allowing you to catch him.

Having a loose horse is a serious situation, but if you stay calm and act quickly you can often catch the horse without incident.

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