A Catching Story

Below is a call for help that came via my Facebook page.

For privacy reasons I’ve changed the person’s name.

However, nothing ever changes when it comes to catching horses.

“Hi Neil.

I’m sure you get a million messages a day, but I’m praying you will respond.

We have recently purchased a lovely 12yo Gelding for my 10yo daughter.

He is a 13.3 show pony. She loves and adores him and he is so perfect for her under saddle.

Kind and courteous.


I’ve tried every trick, but he knows them all and is always one step ahead of me! I’ve read your book and especially the chapter on the hard to catch horse.

But the problem is, he’s just not that into food.

He couldn’t care less. And doesn’t crave a rub.

I don’t know what to do.

At the moment it takes a team to corner him and I just don’t always have access to help.

If he sees the float you can forget about catching him AT ALL.

Apparently he was like this with his other owners too.

We’ve only had him for about six weeks. He just seems like a stubborn old man.

Any advice will be so greatly appreciated and taken on board.”

Regards Anne

My response:

“Hi Anne,

Thanks for your message.

To overcome his catching issues you must keep your horse in a small yard or stable, and go to him at least four times a day.

It doesn’t matter if you have to leave him there for a month.

He won’t improve while ever you chase him in the paddock or have a team of people to corner him.

Every horse will learn to enjoy having a rub and a feed.”

All the best, Neil

Catching horses is never about ‘walking him down’ or the horse ‘giving up’.

It’s about teaching your horse that it’s easy and pleasant to be with you.

And you do it with with a good rub of the head and feed.

“Hi Neil

Thanks so much!”

“Hi Anne,

You’ll have to keep an eye on him and see if he settles down on his own.

If not, you may have to leave his friend nearby.”

Cheers, Neil

“Thanks so much. I will try.”

Eight days later, I was very happy to receive this message from Anne:

“Hi Neil,

It’s probably been a bit over a week since I messaged you last enquiring about my hard to catch horse.

I just wanted to touch base to say thanks again!

I have been implementing the methods you suggested as well as reading all of the blogs you recommended.

I can tell you already he is a different horse!!

When he sees me coming, he actually comes my way.

Yesterday when I was picking up poo, he was following at my shoulder.

It amazes me that such a simple change in my mind set could improve this pony’s ideas in life.

I really think that no-one has been ‘nice’ to him in the past, and he is loving having someone be nice to him!

Thanks for helping me and the relationship I have with this pony!!””

“Hi Anne,

That’s great news for me, for you, and for your pony!

Sounds like you’re doing a great job.

When you pick up the poo in his paddock, have some apple pieces or carrot pieces in your pocket and give him a piece each time he comes to you.

This will reinforce that you’re nice to be with.

Keep up the good work!”

All the best, Neil

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