Catching a runaway horse, or a horse in your pasture that just doesn’t want to be caught can be quite the frustrating ordeal. Each and every horse on the planet is going to have different behaviors. However, what it eventually comes down to is stubbornness. Horses are big stubborn animals and for good reason. They are also fast so it makes sense that their best instinctive defense is to run away.
Catching a runaway horse really comes down to being more stubborn than your horse. You have to do one of two things either make them so tired from running away that you are able to catch them or over the course of a few days or weeks earn their trust so that they come to you.
Setting up for success!
Depending on your situation, it is best to try to get the horse into a smaller area. This can be done easily in many cases by offering a little treat such as an apple, carrot, or some grain. In some cases, however, if your horse isn’t food motivated, you may need to resort to more… tricky tactics. At this point, it’s often easier to get yourself a buddy. Keep calm and make sure you move slowly.
Tips for Catching your runaway horse.
Horses have a sixth sense when it comes to how people are feeling. If you are feeling angry or anxious, the horse will know and it will react to your mood. Keep calm, move slowly. This is possibly one of the most important things to keep in mind when you are trying to catch a runaway horse.
Horses are big animals. If you own a horse you probably already know this but it is important to keep away from the backside of your horse. According to Equimed, a horse’s kick can be compared to being hit by a car at about 20 miles per hour. Horses use their powerful kick as a way to protect themselves if they feel cornered and unable to escape a dangerous situation.
If you can try to get the horse into a corner but as mentioned above, be very cautious of the kick! If you can keep them in a corner, not only will you have less walking, but the horse will have less chance of getting injured, and will generally stay calmer, assuming you are calm.
Try to keep a “matter-of-fact” mentality. The horse will sense this attitude. If you feel defeated the horse will know and will behave accordingly.
I cannot stress the importance of moving slow. Work your way towards the horse, but stop before he starts to move. Once he moves, most likely he’s going to run away again forcing you to start from scratch.
Keep your horses focus on you. Make noises such as kissing sounds to get your horse to look at you. This helps keep the focus on you, not on an escape plan. Additionally, this helps the horse learn that you are not really a threat.
Having helpers is awesome but you want them to stand very still and have only one person at a time actually attempting to catch the horse. Their job is to keep a “fence” If the horse gets close to the fence then they should make big, energetic, movements to discourage the horse from going that direction.
Rather than trying to get a halter on the horse, try to only loosely loop a lead rope around its neck. Putting a halter on requires a lot more trust than simply putting something on the neck. The lead rope also has the unique ability to be released quickly should your horse decide to bolt.
Do not wrap the lead rope around any part of your body!
Wrapping things around your hands, arms, or fingers is a good way to have them broken or be dragged.
Preventing a runaway horse with Trust.
If you want to continue chasing your horse around the pasture each and every time you want to ride, go ahead and close this page. But I’m guessing you are interested in a better solution? This part takes tons of time and patience. How long it takes is often up to the horse.
Now that the horse is easily accessible, place a few treats in your pocket and slowly walk towards him/her. Start slow by only trying to pet the shoulder and neck area, if the horse allows it, give em’ a treat and tons of love. Walk away for a bit and then repeat the process. Afterward, do it again. And when you think you’ve done it enough times… Do it again.
Eventually, the horse will learn two things, he will learn to trust you and he will learn that you carry treats. Once this happens he should start to come to you instead of going to him. It is obviously going to be much easier to catch a runaway horse when they come to you!
Once you have earned the horse’s trust and it will let you give it all of the petting and love you can muster. I have bad news for you. Now, you will need to start the process over, this time instead of only giving love you will be putting on a halter.
My horse, Blackjack, is the biggest teddy bear. But when we first got him he hated the idea of a halter. Just seeing the halter he would start to spook, put his ears back, all kinds of horse talk for “Boy. Don’t you dare come at me with that thing!” My wife and I spent days going out, putting on a halter, taking it off… Over and over. At one point we were doing this in the barn and he threw his head up, hit the ceiling and walked off on wobbly legs while my wife and I giggled to ourselves. Another time I had ahold of his head and he literally picked me up and started walking off. Despite all of this, we kept at it and today he puts his head down for us! The name of the game is trust and stubbornness.
At this point, you have successfully earned your horse’s trust. You might be thinking “yay I’m done now!” Unfortunately, if you were thinking something like that you would be very mistaken. Horses are living creatures, just like your friends and family, if you never talk to them or see them eventually you will start to lose their trust.
If you want to regularly catch your runaway horse then you are going to need to keep up a relationship with the animal. This part is not only easy but fun.
One of the best ways that you can maintain your horse’s trust is to just spend time with them. Go out as often as you possibly can and just be with them. Talk to your horse like the crazy people we are. Get to know what they like and dislike. For example, Blackjack loves to have air blown in his nose… He’s kind of weird.
Should I keep a halter on a troublesome horse?
I know it may be tempting to leave a halter on your horse as a way to prevent a runaway horse. But it is important to keep in mind that horses have a tendency to get caught up on things. A halter could cause your horse serious injury if they get caught up. They do make breakaway halters designed to let your horse free in the event that they get caught up; however, I have never used any of these so please do your research!
When you want to catch a runaway horse it is important to keep a cool head despite the frustration that it can cause. Hopefully, these tips will help you in your frustration and allow you to quickly catch your horse.