In my Horse Master episode called “Catch Me if You Can!” about a Peruvian Paso, his favorite pastime is to make his owner run around the pen chasing him for an hour or two before each ride. The owner is frustrated and disgusted with his antics, but I have to admit, it was rather humorous to watch. The horse certainly had her trained to play his game—one in which he wrote the rules and in which he pretty much won every time they played.
There’s an easy and foolproof cure for the hard-to-catch horse and it has to do with not playing his game and showing him your string level of determination and commitment. I call it “walking off” a horse and there is a detailed article on my website about how this process works or you can just watch the episode.
In the middle part of the episode, where I work with the horse to sort out the problem, we only have about 8-10 minutes to get the point across. I was a little concerned going in that it would take much longer than that to convert this horse, given that his behavior was VERY engrained. I warned the videographer/editor that she would have to film it all and then edit it down, with an indication that it took longer than what was actually shown.
To my delight, the horse gave it up relatively quickly and although not every second was shown, it took less than 15 minutes before the horse was frustrated by my relentless and determined approach and my unwillingness to play his game, and he stopped and faced me and dropped his head in defeat. The next day, after the owner had worked on catching him in the same process several times, he was so good that it almost looked fake. Once again, it was more a matter of changing the human’s behavior than changing the horse’s. So often, when we change our attitude/approach, the horse responds immediately, proving once again that almost all “horse problems” are actually human problems.
Have you dealt with a hard-to-catch horse before? Did he have you trained to play his game—chasing him around like a puppet or bribing him with treats, only to have him take the prize and run off with his tail up in the air? What did you do to solve the problem.
Until next time,