View Full Version : Wild/Unhandled Mature Horse
08-26-2010, 09:03 PM
I have entered a world I am completely unfamiliar with...wild, unhandled mature horses...that I need to get a halter on. Suggestions or suggested reading would be really helpful.
Kathleen, are they stalled?
08-26-2010, 09:37 PM
Is haltering something that you need to do quickly or can you take your time with the horse in a small, enclosed area or stall? If you need to halter quickly out of necessity, you may need to find a cowboy with a good roping horse. I hope you're not in that big of a rush but I know sometimes time is of essence.
08-26-2010, 10:23 PM
Not stalled, I can run the herd in and then seperate w/pens and chutes. They are loose w/handled horses...so far I've tried the chute and leave them hanging out while I work w/the handled horses. This includes feeding treats, the unhandled ones want to eat them but try to do the stretch and grab.
I have length of time but limited time w/in that time (work, my animals, etc.) to work w/them. So I'm looking for a way to use my time w/them more effectively.
hmmmm....because they were not handled, they will prefer the herd over humans. I think if you stall them and 'shield' them from the herd, you will become their herd and as they are a social animal, they will start to bond with you. I think asking people that deal with the US Land Management and catch and distribute the horses caught in the wild is your best bet. No matter what, it is going to take a lot of time! Stripe was handled, but it took weeks before he allowed me to touch him. I did shield him from other horses and just became part of his stall life by sitting in his stall, paying no attention to him, so the craving for attention got the better of him and he 'relented'.....now he is the biggest Lovebug!
08-27-2010, 09:43 AM
If you can get them into a somewhat smaller enclosed area you could use the monty roberts approach and walk them down. It will take a good bit of time for the session and definitely the patience to keep yourself calm and not start pushing them too fast out of frustration. This is best done if you can seperate them completely from the other horses so they will have no one to hide behind and join up with instead of you. Just keep moving them and moving them and moving them, only press into their space bubble as far as it takes to keep them walking, they start running willy nilly back away from them until they come back to the walk just keep pressing until they start turning towards you, especially with licking and chewing. When they start turning towards you, back off the space bubble again and let them stop moving, just for about 30 seconds, maybe less if they start turning away. If they start turning away, move into the bubble and make them keep walking again. Eventually that space bubble will get smaller and smaller and smaller and you will be standing right next to them and they will have stopped and turned to you.
Next, get them used to your touch and contact. Same approach, as long as they let you touch them and run your hands across and over and around them, they get to stand still, if they don't, they have to keep moving. They will learn oh hey! this is nice! This feels good! This isn't scary! and I don't have to keep walking and have them pushing and chasing after me. Its NICE to stand here and do what the human wants!
Now its time, once these sessions have the horse standing with you, accepting your touch all over their bodies to start "sacking out". This is the same process be it a halter, a saddle pad or a bridle, etc. Let them smell it, introduce slowly. Just have it in your hands while you touch them with your hands. At first, they might shy away from said object, don't touch them with it yet, just have it slung over your shoulder or in the opposite hand while you touch them with your hands. Once they see its not going to bite them, then start rubbing them all over with it (halter). Especially, since its where it goes, all over the head and ears and upper neck. Now start repetitively doing the haltering motion without buckling, you want them to understand that slinging that strap over their neck isn't going to attack them nor will putting the noseband around their nose bite their faces off.
There are ways to do it faster. This is one of the biggest issues we face going to Sugarcreek is often the horses are unhandled. I've watched horses drag their new owners around the pens more times than I want to remember. But it can be done, have done it and gone from totally schizo unhandled all the way to in a trailer with out squeeze chuting them in a matter of a couple hours. Some horses respond better than others, often depending on how dominant they are. A horse thats low man on the totem pole will go through this process, usually, faster than a smart stubborn dominant one will.
As always, your mileage may vary but maybe this will give you a place to start. I wish you much luck and also thank you for taking the time to help a horse become a good citizen!
08-27-2010, 09:58 AM
Thanks Mona this is what I was looking for as this is about the only option I have available to me.
08-27-2010, 10:05 AM
I would also agree remove them from the herd.Literally isolate them. Do not let them socialize with anything/anyone but you. You also must be their only source of food and water. They will bond quickly and seem to get over their distrust faster. At an early point make them come to you for food (as in eating out of a bucket while you hold it, or they just don't eat...... make sure you have several hours to deal with this, but when they are hungry they will come to you. That said you don't actually starve them but make sure you are present in their "bubble" while they are eating at first. Then move to feeding while holding the bucket, the handling will come next, petting while they are eating, once you get your hands on them, you can halter them. While I have never done an aged horse, I have done unhandled yearlings (12-20 months).
08-27-2010, 10:36 AM
I agree w/ Mona, take the Monty Roberts approach, but be sure to remain calm and patient. Granted he was broke, but I had a 3 yo come back home after 6 months and the first time I turned him out I could not catch him to save me and this was a total shock since I had no problems before catching him. It took me over an hour one night to catch him in a small 60 x 60 lot, but he came to me using Monty's method. He is not the first horse I've had to use this on, the other was my mini, Rio, who was just being a little snot, but it worked. Look up the join up process, it's not hard to do at all, just takes time and patience, but well worth it. Good luck!
08-27-2010, 11:40 AM
Suggestions or suggested reading would be really helpful.
The Black Stallion.... just kidding, it's been tickling my funny bone all morning. :) I can't do any better than Mona and everyone else did.
08-27-2010, 11:55 AM
You are very welcome! It does work, I've had to use this many times. I will say that saddlebreds usually pick up join up much faster than other breeds, especially depending on how its presented to them. With the Baby, three very experienced women tried catching him out of a group of about ten other horses for about four hours before giving up. When I got there the next day, I used a dressage whip JUST as an extension of my arm, peeled him away from the others,(think how a horse cuts out a calf from the herd in cutting) sent him down an aisleway (and then closed into that space of about twelve feet wide by thirty feet long) on his own and had him haltered and leading in about ten minutes accompanied by a Big sigh. Working them quietly and individually makes a big big difference. If I can help in any way, feel free to PM me or post here or carrier pidgeon, whatever method works :) I think you'll do great, I know you have it in you.
08-27-2010, 01:12 PM
Agree with everything said. I too use Monty's method (or some variation of that) with each and every horse I work with before I advance on to more/higher level training/handling. I want to be trusted and respected as the leader first before I trust the horse enough to have my own body in his or her space.
Excellent advice thus far. Isolate, and progress slowly.
08-28-2010, 07:57 AM
I agree with Mona too, as I usually do. I have another suggestion too though, depending on your setup and time and patience. When I look back to my thoroughbred days when I was the groom for a trainer that broke them for the track, they came in unhandled having never worn a halter. They were in stalls and most of them we could get a halter on but the tough ones we would actually take another horse in the stall with them and sort of corner them with the horse. One of us would handle the quiet horse while the other would hurry to get the halter on in the quietest, fastest way possible. Mona's method is your best bet but in our case we needed to get these horses broke and we had 6 weeks to do it. Of course, once we got the halter on we left it on for awhile and sometimes with a catch rope. Also, as silly as it sounds, if you squat down to the ground they are less intimidated by you and may become interested enough to come to you. We did still turn the horses out with other horses but they were mainly kept in stalls. We would rotate two out for a couple hours a day, as 2 year olds they needed this time out. And obvioulsy, you have to have a very good horse if you are doing this method, there can't be any kicking! I think Mona has the best suggestion but I wanted to offer this as an alternative. Hopefully something works!
08-28-2010, 09:51 AM
Wow, this is all great advice, and I also am sending some kudos and 'attagirl! ' praise to Kathleen for taking this project on. (We want more details when you have a spare minute, LOL!) One other thing I have thought of, not sure if this is practical, but if there is a way to pair up one wild one with one already 'domesticated' and used to being handled horse in a round pen or small pen, the wild one would probably learn from the other horse that humans are good sources of food, affection, etc.
08-28-2010, 01:26 PM
Get this book by John Lyons or find it in the library
Sensible and works for any unhandled horse.
If they are already taking treats from you I don't think it's fair to call them wild anymore :) Ms. horsetamer, just uncertain and untrained.
Don't corner them in a way they decide to use the options of mowing you down or jumping over the 6' fences (Oh, yes, they do!), and don't walk into the rear end of a frightened horse -you will get kicked and deservedly so.
Other than that? Piece of cake!
-Have fun and let us know when the DVD will be available for purchase. (proceeds to a good cause)
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