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How do you catch a Bullet?

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ErikaS.

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Well, I brought home Bullet a few weeks ago now and he seems to be feeling a lot better. As some of you may recall, I first spotted him at a local 4-H show- a two year old mini, just recently gelded, being ridden by a 14 year old boy. I bought him, took him home, and found he was a little thin, but feet were okay, and had girth galls and halter sores. And he was shy. No doubt he has been treated a bit roughly in his young age. The problem is: now that he is feeling better, it is difficult to catch and halter him. He tries to keep a 5 foot distance from me at all times- with his ears forward, though.

Right now, I am treating his as if he was shy weanling. He shares a 2-3 acre pasture with Trigger and the goats. I was able to catch him a couple of times with some grain in a bucket and a lot of patience, but the last time I tried he flipped out when I had the lead rope around his neck and ran off... twice.

It's going to take a lot of time, I know, but does anyone have any tips? Can I be taming him better? Should I put him in a smaller enclosure? Thanks for your time.
 

dgrminis

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If it were me I would definetly move him into a smaller pen -- he doesnt have to be in the small pen all the time but when you want to catch him it would be helpful I am sure. We have a catch pen off of my large pen -- it is 32 foot long and 16 foot wide... If I have one that needs some extra loving to get caught (like yours) I generally shake a grain bucket and go into the smaller pen with it -- once they are in there with me I close the gate. I will try and catch them in there -- generally it involves some free lunging but eventually they will learn that you are not out to hurt them and they will be easier to catch...

I am sure someone else can give some good advise as well..

Good Luck!
 

RobinRTrueJoy

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The second pen is a good idea. Especially if it is a portable type pen that you can configure its shape. It is good to have a pen with a sharp "corner" in it, so the horse can be caught in the corner. Round pens aren't as much help.

I had a shy mare that I bought as an adult. Every morning BEFORE feeding, I would let my other horses into the pasture from the barn yard, all except HER. I would shut the gate and it would just be me and her in the barn yard. I would then get her feed and "ask her to go into her stall. IT could take a while at first, but she wouldn't get fed until she went into that stall. I would then shut the stall door, then love on her and then let her eat.

Also, if you can get a halter(preferably a break away type), maybe with some "sheepskin" padding( you said he had halter sores when you first got him). Normally I never leave halters on, but in this case I did. Then I bought a really cheap dog leash, or cheap lead, and attach it to the halter and leave it there. You can cut it shorter so that he won't be tripping. Leave plenty so that if he lets you get close enough, you can grab it. Also, keep treats in you pockets when you are in the barn yard with him at all times.

Robin
 

Rebecca

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I would definitely put him in a smaller enclosure until he figures out being caught is a good thing. When mine first came home I had one who did this too, it was tough and frustrating but try not to let it get to you. Sit with him in his pen and talk to him, give him treats. If he comes to you reward him and then give him a treat and a pat if you get the halter on. Just spend time with him and let him know he can trust you and it's ok.

Now both of my girls come running when they see me and it's a great feeling. If one gets a bit of an attitude one day and decides she's going to run away from me when I have the halter, I don't chase her I just anticipate her actions and walk towards her. Then she sees it's not working and stops and waits for me.

Good luck with your boy!
 

Calekio

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Echo putting him into a small paddock, or least teaching him to be fed in a small pen in the field.. so he willingly come in there.

I had a filly come to me like this. When she arrived i was warn not to take her head collar of and that she was very differcult to catch!

I did leave the halter on for a few days i needed to get a hold of her for the vet, after that it came off and stayed off. Every day i just got her into a little pen and let her eat in there, she soon figured out the pen was a good thing. I would then get her into the pen and make her come to me for her food, and gradually get to touch her.

We then ditched the pen and repeated the process of just being touch (minus bucket) in the field, just a nice scratch and walk away before she walked away from me (so you leave them wanting more)

Occassionally i'd have to follow her round the field a few times but once she stopped just scratched her.

Then continued to the do the same with a rope around my neck. Once happy with that, worked on getting the rope round her neck (not holding her, if she wanted to walk off, she could)

Then again working on the head collar.

I did this every day, at least once a day, sometimes twice... this was a pony who although a yearling had always had a halter left on and had to be herded into a small area to then grab her...

Within 3 weeks.... i could walk stright up to her and just put a head collar on her. within 6 weeks i could handle her feet, do eye drops and worm her loose in the field without even a head collar on her....

Patience is a key thing... and keeping your patience when things aren't going the way you want it.... but eventually it does pay off.
 

ChrystalPaths

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Talk to him..go to him when you do NOT want him just for the approach and show the love then turn away and leave, after 3 times he'll follow you. Take a chair and a book out and just sit along the fence and read, no treats just you ignoring him..it'll drive him nuts and he'll have to come see what the? I am one who doesn't care to go fast, take time, allow him his foolishness to a point..he earned it BUT you are the boss mare and he needs to figure that out....I never chase one down...talk, ignore, wander about never looking at him, fuss with the others, keep your back to him (but be aware of course)...he'll have to come and then slow but sure lay the lead on his neck and then slip it off like a snake, in a bit more time you can gather the lead to loop then let go again, soon I am betting you can lead by the mane or chin, rope or no.
 

Carolyn R

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You probably already know this, but make yourself small. Get down on a bended knee hold out a treat, no sudden movements, don't even bring the halter or a lead near the horse. Just let them have a treat, slowly get them used to touching them while they are eating, before you know it, you will see their whole body language change, they won't take on the flight stance, it will be a more relaxed stance. It will take a few days or longer, depending how much time you have to spend with them each day, just remember, it is a trust issue, once you gain their trust, you will have a different horse.

The smaller pen is also a great idea for now.

After this, then I do what SageNapala does, or just simply slide your arm ober their neck then ease the halter on.
 
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Bunnylady

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You have gotten some really good advice here. I particularly like the idea of just going out to be around him when you are not there to catch him. Sitting or "hunkering" down near him can be helpful, you are a lot less intimidating when you "get small."
 

whitney

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Friend of mine adopted a wild horse, she attached a long cotton rope to his halter and kept it on him while he was out in his pen. Seemed to work for her. She always had a bucket with a little grain in it too when she approached him. Move slow and talk quietly.
 

Keri

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I got one in february that I couldn't catch. Put him in my 40ft round pen and couldn't catch him for a week. Unfortunately, I couldn't make my round pen smaller until the panels got unfrozen. After I got him in a smaller pen with corners, I was able to have him start facing me when I fed him and what not. He would still try to bolt. But now he's out with the other horses and I can catch him. He still tries to run, but when I tell him whoa, he'll stand there and let me put the halter on.

Hahahaha! I thought your horse's name was interesting. Mine's name is Chase and he sure lived up to it!
 

SunQuest

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Hey Erica, I agree with Debs on this one. Book reading is fun when you are in a pasture


As far as catching, I again agree with Debs. I also have another tip for you. We had an Arab gelding that was always extremely shy. I could NEVER just walk straight up to him to catch him even after working with him for years.

But, some of the things that worked were based on the preditor/prey relationship. First, look down at his feet when you approach him. If you are looking at his head and eyes, then you are basically challenging him and if he is timid, that will make him nervous. So don't look him in the eye when catching him.

Another thing I have done is to kind of slide up to the timid ones. I did this with a full sized horse that was loose on the road the other day and was one that wanted to bolt, but when I went into the "slide up to them mode" she didn't run and relaxed and I was able to get her on the first try.

And you don't want to approach with your back square to him as that is a threat in the herd enviroment. And it is also a threat if you approach straight on with eye contact.

So what you do is turn your shoulders to be 45 degrees to his shoulder and kind of back up/side pass up to him. So catching him from the horse's left side, you approach the horse's shoulder with your right shoulder further towards the horse's tail than your left shoulder and thus create the 45 degree angle to the horse's shoulder, yet you are approaching from straight in front of him. So you want your right should to be nearest to his left shoulder when you finally get to him. Your rear end and his rear end will be pointing somewhat the same direction as you sidepass/back up to him. So the 45 degree angle is created between your front side of your body and his neck and head. But, the important thing is that you are not assuming a threatening position that is used in a herd enviroment.

Hope this helps.

Edited to clarify the last paragraph as I just realized it wasn't clear. I hope it is better now.
 
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AceyHorse

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I've got a gelding thats 'a mission' to catch due to things that have happened to him in the past.

This is what I do....

Use the food to get him to come up to you and always make him step forward to take it, don't go to him.

After a few sessions of this

Once he is standing comfortably beside you (I'm usually down on one knee) Then get him used to being patted all over, around his head and neck body etc. When ever he moves away get him to come back towards you using the food, never go towards him.

I have the lead rope lying on the ground, let him sniff it, let him know its there. At this stage don't try to do anything with the lead rope apart from let him sniff it etc.

After a few sessions of this, when hes comfortable

Then get him used to having the lead rope rubbed all over him around the neck head body etc.

Take it on and off from around his head.

After a few sessions of this do the same with his halter

This can take as short as a few weeks or as long as a few years, you need to read him and see when hes ready to move onto the next stage

With my boy....

Basically I always have to have food, otherwise forget it.

For a start I always had to leave a halter on him

Never, EVER try to grab at him (one day my partner went to catch him ,he took out food with him, then tried to sneakily grab his halter - this one action undid MONTHS of work, sigh)

Don't get into the whole following him or trying to corner him. Always make him come to you not the other way around. Basically everyone here has given really great advice, it just takes a really long time to build up that trust.

A smaller paddock and keeping him on his own may help until he becomes more trusting of you.

Even now my boy has his days and he won't be caught and I just have to accept that, hes got his reasons I'm sure.

Hope this helps and good luck! You will have your good days and your bad days but don't give up!

Sorry this is so long

Anna
 

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