Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

Last post 05-28-2008 7:40 PM by 843492. 70 replies.
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  • 05-23-2008 6:56 AM

    Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Hi

    I don't know if any of you have experienced this, but I am sure some of you have.  I have a mare who is on 20 acres.  During the winter months, the hay bales are near the fence, so I don't have to walk far to get her.  She is one of those horses that does not come to you.  She does not usually walk or run away, but she makes no effort to come.  In the summer months, this is a big problem.  As she is out on 20 acres, she can be a long walk away and although I call to her, bring treats (only give them to her if on occasion she does happen to come towards me) she just waits for me to get to her.  I have tried bringing grain, but all the horses come and when the lead mare or gelding figures out there is none for them, they chase all the horses away and she goes with them.  I have tried keeping her in paddock, but she gets very unhappy and tends to kick the fence, which injures her legs and as she has always been out on pasture, I feel she does better there.  When she runs away which has happened twice in the last 3 years, I chase her away when she does stand until she comes to me.  This is, of course, very taxing, especially on 20 acres.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get your horse to respond.  I have always had geldings in the past and never had this problem. You say their name once and they are barrelling to the gate!!!  Thanks for any help.

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  • 05-23-2008 7:15 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Make it worth her while to be caught. Instead of taking her out and riding her every time you catch her,. hand graze her in the really good grass, groom all of her scratchy spots or put her in a stall and give her some food before you ride...

  • 05-23-2008 8:03 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Ok, I have tried the scratching, but that does not work.  The grazing does not work as she is out on really good pasture.  I give her grain every time I bring her in.  I have even tried carrying a chestnut in my pocket, which they are supposed to be able to smell. I do not have access to a stall.  Any other recommendations??? 

  • 05-23-2008 8:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    All the videos I've watched by Lyons, Parelli, etc. start by establishing in the horse's mind, who's boss.  After working on who's lead mare (you are), then they work on trust.  Once the two concepts are established in the horse's mind, then they can be taught to come and follow you.  Obviously, horses are not dogs.  They need constant reminding because they know they're bigger than us.

    One of our horses, Buddy, who used to come when beckoned has begun not to come.  He is currently with a different set of pasture mates and has won the top gelding spot.  So now we are having a test of wills.  Amazingly enough, the other horses used to be harder to catch.  Now, they come very easily.  Seems their place in the pecking order has something to do with their obedience. 

    So for the past two days, I made sure to catch and move the other two to our greener pastures.  Then I wait by the gate with Buddy's halter.  Yesterday, it took about 20 minutes.  It was just long enough for the other two to eat a bunch of fresh grass and begin to fart their content.  I think that was enough to convince Buddy that he was missing out.  I had him in the corner of my eye and could watch his posture.  Shortly after, he showed submission or surrender to the thought that I was leader, then he came.

    In another pasture, the horse lowest on the pecking order, will not come readily when the other horses are in his way.  I suppose in his mind, passing through the herd on the way to me means getting picked on by the other horses.  With him, I carry a training whip to shoo the other horses away.  He's still a little timid, and I keep forgetting to bring the whip.  The concept works though.  It is to teach him that when I, the leader, call on him, that he has my protection.

    They are really not much different than dealing with 4 year old human kids.

    Oops that blew up ... go figure!!
  • 05-23-2008 9:20 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Yes, what you say makes sense.  I noticed when I went to get her yesterday that the alpha mare was getting her to move further and further away from me.  She was moved into a new pasture 3 months ago and has been establishing herself and moving up the ranks.  Yesterday was the first time that I noticed she was beside the alpha mare.  However, when I am around, I should be the alpha mare and so because she did not listen I did reprimand her by chasing her when she did stand still and then we had a long lunge line session wherein I made her run (which is what she was doing to get away from me in pasture) and then I let her loose in the arena and asked her to whoe several times while I walked away and then asked her to come to me.  When she did, she was praised and got a treat.  When she did not, I put her back on the lunge line to run.  We worked on this a while and then I gave her grain, after which I took her  back in the arena to ask her to whoa and walk to me.  She had forgotten it all and did not listen.  I did not press it this time and will see the next time if it made an improvement.  Any other ideas on how to get her to come would be welcomed.

  • 05-23-2008 9:42 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Getting your horse to want to come to you in the pasture is a process that takes time and committment on your part. Your horse has to think you have something better to offer than what she is already getting. If she wants to be with you, she will come.

     You can not expect your horse to learn to come to you in one session. My guess is that your timing is off with your horse, and you are sending her really mixed signals. You say that if she does not come, then you put the lunge line on her and then have her run. How much time has elapsed? The likelyhood that she is making the connection that the reason she is 'running' is because she did not come to you is very low. Instead, she all she knows is that you are making her run for some unpredictable reason.....

    You need to spend time building a relationship with the horse, not teaching her to come to you as a trick that she gets punished for if she doesnt....JMHO.

  • 05-23-2008 10:00 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Thanks for the response, but I am asking for helpful suggestions, not to be reprimanded!!!  I have been working with horses for 12 years now and have not had this problem before.  I have owned this horse for 3 years and because of various circumstances (changes in pasture etc.) have not had to deal with this problem.  If you want to dissect my actions, please read carefully.  I did mention that as soon as she ran away, I reprimanded her by chasing her away as soon afterwards as possible.  The lesson on the lunge line was to reinforce what I taught her after that and to have her follow me and come to me.  Having explained this again, I do not see the need to send replies that are not helpful.  Please find something better to do or please reprimand someone else.

  • 05-23-2008 10:41 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    First, horses have no concept of there size in relationship to yours. They do know pecking orders and they do develope respect for you and see you as being one up on them in the pecking order. I have a wonderful trail horse on 50 acres with 6 other horses. He appears to be number three on the pecking order. I too, have done the recommended CD's by reputable horseman with very little luck. I have done the sweet feed in a stall, treats in the round pen, sceluded him from the other horses, no luck...Another older horseman told this:  have your own call for this horse, mine is a whisltling sound, make the sound and call to the horse.  Go only to that horse until you catch her/him. Praise the horse and offer a treat if you want to . Take the horse from the others and do a two minute pat, scratch on the neck, love and talk. Make the same sound when you turn the horse back in. (You can use a "clicker" for this too)  Do this every day if at all possible.  Length the time you have the horse and if you need to do other things with her, go ahead.  This does take time and patience. Now after I gave you this advice, here's what happened to me. He hears the whistle, gives me a long look takes a few steps away, looks again,  waits till I get closer, walks some more....can't catch him.( if I stay across the fence, he comes to me everytime but if I go into the field.....)husband  took four wheeler and rode behind him unitl he decided to stop. Now I whistle, horse looks at me, husband starts 4 wheeler, horse hears that too and stands until I come to get him. Now I can catch him and he comes to me at the fence.

  • 05-23-2008 11:38 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    Well, I have not tried that.  I will give that method a shot as I don't want to have to start chasing her on a daily basis.  She does normally stand until I reach her, although that may be at the furthest part in the pasture, which is what I find annoying.  My geldings would always run to the gate to greet me.  They even recognized the sound of my truck!!!  She, however, waits till I am almost to her, then decides to walk to me.  I have tried at that point getting her to follow me, but she will get distracted and start eating again.  She has great ground manners and is a sweet mare, but this one issue is somewhat annoying.  Thanks for your help.

  • 05-23-2008 2:32 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    843492:
    because she did not listen I did reprimand her by chasing her when she did stand still and then we had a long lunge line session wherein I made her run (which is what she was doing to get away from me in pasture)
     

    So, to make sure I understand you correctly....as soon as your mare did what you wanted her to do (standing still) you punished her by chasing her away?  

    Unless I'm misunderstanding you, I am clueless as to how this makes any sense.   If your mare did a good thing (standing still) you should have immediately positively reinforced her behavior by catching her, praising her & giving her a treat.  Reinforce again in the ring if you want, but be absolutely consistent in the manner in which you catch her no matter where she is.  The light bulb won't go on in a single session, or maybe even a dozen, but she will get it IF you are absolutely consistent.

    I once had a hard to catch gelding.  He'd make me chase him for what seemed like an eternity.  When I did catch him, I never hollered or smacked (the insanity of chasing away hadn't been invented in the 80s).  He got a treat for being good.  It took years, because I was an inconsistent teenager, but eventually he did come when called.

    Currently, my horse and pony will come running at the sound of my truck (front pasture) or call (back pasture).  They are absolutely confident that I have a tasty treat in my pocket.  I never fail them & they don't fail me.  Bribery definitely has its place.

    FWIW, I've had 27 years of experience, retrained one feisty rental horse & fully trained 3 from babies, all to numerous placings in the show ring.

    Please visit the Morab Horse Association & Register, Inc. Dare to be different-Ride a Morab!


    Bailey & J in the 2004 Midwest Horse Fair Parade of Breeds. He was 4 years old :)


  • 05-23-2008 7:09 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

     quoted from 843492. ( sorry this isn't the usual, somehow the normal formatting itsn't working for me.)

    "Yesterday was the first time that I noticed she was beside the alpha mare.  However, when I am around, I should be the alpha mare and so because she did not listen I did reprimand her by chasing her when she did stand still and then we had a long lunge line session wherein I made her run (which is what she was doing to get away from me in pasture) and then I let her loose in the arena and asked her to whoe several times while I walked away and then asked her to come to me.  When she did, she was praised and got a treat.  When she did not, I put her back on the lunge line to run.  We worked on this a while and then I gave her grain, after which I took her  back in the arena to ask her to whoa and walk to me.  She had forgotten it all and did not listen."

    WHY??? What's the problem here? If the aphla mare is crowding your horse away from you, deal with the aphla. Dont' yell at yours. There's is absolutely nothign wrong with your chasing the aphla horse off if you need to so I fail to understand why that's an issue. Also has she ever come consistently or this a new problem?

    Also I don't think your horse connected beign run on the lounge line with not coming. Now I'm not goign to say you're wrong but I know that in my experience your horse does not come to you because they want to be run on a lounge line. now I'm only trying to look at it from your horse's perspective here, but if I were your horse I would say every time she catches me I have to run, I don't like this. Now I know you did reward her when she came but I just see the situation as beign very confusing for the horse because it's not clear how beign caught got her rewarded or not. Just because she doesn't get punished the one time doesn't mean it wouldn't happen the next.  I've been typing here adn I keep visualizing what you've described trying to figure it out. Cause something's thrown me off but I think I've got it now.  My guess is that she doesn't understand that coming to you and beign caught is what you want verses you coming to her and catching her.

    I think you made good choice to make off when she didn't seem to remember after getting her grain. If you can I would be inclined to move her to a smaller area for a few days. so you can get her used to the idea of comign with out having to chase her all over. However I know that may not work so if you can't get her into a smaller pasture I'd work with her in the areana like you've mentioned except I wouldn't lounge. Lounging equals work and that's not what you want her to associate coming with. I would simple hang out with her the first time, brush her, feed treats, spoil her. Then I'd start moving away(even if it's just a few feet) and ask her to come. you could use what ever cue you want her name ect but I'd make it very simple. Reward her for any positive response, if her attention suddenly focuses on you when you call, if she offer to take a step ect.  Then gradually have her come farther. If you dont' have areana available, you could try using the lounge line not as punish,emt but as  a connection between you. maybe start work like usual but ask her to come in to you when you call. then take off the lounge line and giver her a reward. The first few times I wouldn't do it more once maybe twice because you want to reinforce reward because she came and you caught her not work because she came. once she's getting the idea you can do more pratice though and if you mix it in to different places in your rountine she wouldn't be able to anticpate it as easily. These are only suggestions the main idea is to make coming to you important to her as well as you. It sounds like you have a good core relationship and you'll be able to work this out quickly

    To ride on a horse is to fly without wings

    There are times when you can trust a horse, times when you can't and times when you have to.
  • 05-23-2008 8:58 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

     I didn't 'repremand' you Confused. You ASKED for how to deal with the issue, I gave you my opinion. If you don't want a variety of opinions, either state at the beginning 'I am only open to opinions that agree/validate my training methods' or don't post in the first place. Clearly, what you are doing isn't working, regardless of WHY you are doing it...she ISN'T coming to you, for whatever reason. The concept of 'come to me' is pretty abstract for a horse, as it isn't exactly one of their normal herd behaviors. It is something that can be taught, it isn't something that can be taught in one session, as you seem to imply that you expect.  You did not mention as 'soon as possible afterwords', you mentioned that you put her back on the lunge and then made her run. Go re-read your post. Horses can remember things for just a couple of seconds, and after that, what you do becomes moot and makes you an unpredicatable (therfore dangerous) leader in the eyes of your horse.

    Again, you want your horse to come to you, then you offer your horse something better than she already has access too.....whatever that means to HER. 

  • 05-25-2008 10:34 AM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    I agree with Odihinn's Mom. When you post here you open yourself up to support as well as criticism. It isn't a shot at you personally. It's just a different perspective. One that you asked for. 

    She's right, horses are self-serving. They will do what is best for them. Whether it is to get food, shelter or out of work. She would rather be in pasture with her buddies. You need to offer her something better. When you take her out and work her hard, that is not better, in her mind. So why would she come to you? You need to figure out what she thinks is better.

    My horses get their treats before and after a workout. That way the last thing they remember is SNACKS!!! 

    I have always found mares to be less personable than geldings... in general.
  • 05-25-2008 1:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    hmm, I have the opposite problem. 2 mares turned out in 10 acres and had to teach my morgan not to lope up to me.

    That said, I am far from the most experienced here but I agree with whoever said if the alpha is getting between then THAT is the horse you need to deal with. In fact that is the situation I hate the most.

    My mares will come and graze or lay down a few feet away from me if I am in the pasture, and even on days when I don't ride I go out and halter them each for a few minutes then let them go. Add to this the fact that my mare loves to get out of the pasture for a bit and I never have a problem.

    That said , when I used to board out I had lots of problems with star getting picked on and other horses running her off. I started haltering her over the fencebeside the gate and walking her through, hopefully without drawing too much unwanted attention, but at least with her haltered, when I went in I could run the other horses away from her. She is usually bottom in the herd and gets picked on so she is more than happy to come with me and away from the horses. In fact before I got destiny I would regularly go out to the pasture and find star all by herself in a corner.

    Also I NEVER take grain out in a group of horses. I made that mistake once, it is way too much of a problem.

    Both of my mares love people.

     



    Tricia K
    Angus, The Great Dane Mutt Boy!
  • 05-25-2008 6:32 PM In reply to

    Re: Getting Your Horse to Come to you in Pasture

    WiMorabs:
    So, to make sure I understand you correctly....as soon as your mare did what you wanted her to do (standing still) you punished her by chasing her away?

    I'm not sure if it is the same thing but I have done a similar thing with my horses.  Can't remember who told me or where I got the idea from.

    My sister's mare (now mine sort of) is the alpha mare and although she isn't mean to people or anything she would always walk away when people came to get her.  In my mind this is unacceptable, she has twenty-three hours to herself (if not more) when I come she needs to at least stand still when I come towards her.  So.... when she walked away we would chase her and not let her stop.  This reinforces that we are in charge.  If she stopped when we stopped (as soon as we stopped we called woa so that we could stop her with voice) and let us come up to her and halter her then she got praised.  If, when we stopped she did not or did not let us come up to her then we continued to chase her until she allowed us to come up to her and halter her.  It only took two or three times before she would stop walking away as soon as we called woa.  It continues to work well.  We sometimes have to give her a bit of a tune up but it works well to keep it in her mind that we are the alpha mares.

    Please understand, I am not saying this is the only way or the best way.  I am simply saying that this is what we did and what worked for our horse.  I know that there are many good ways out there. 

    When you are born, you cry and the world rejoices.
    Live your life in such a way that when you die,
    the world cries and you rejoice.

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