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Q&A With Jim McDonald: My horse runs away from me

“How can I get my horse to stop running away from me in the field? Treats helps me catch her sometimes, but she starts trotting away when she sees me coming.”

This is one of the most common questions I get.  I know how frustrating this can be.  The first thing we must do as always, is to look at this from the horse’s point of view.  If we go out to “catch our horse” our energy is something that the horse reads as not good.  Every fiber of the horse’s DNA says don’t ever get caught.  Remember they are animals of prey. I tell my students to just go out to be with their horse.  It’s as if you are just going out for a visit. That creates a much less threatening body language. It’s also important to actually do this some times when you are not going to ride and in fact, actually go out just for a brief visit.

If your horse walks away from you when you approach, the moment that he turns away from you, stop immediately and you turn away from him. When he stops walk directly toward his shoulder.  Every time he walks away from you stop and turn away from him.  Pretty soon he will stop and look at you and at that point you want to step back a couple of steps.  You will be able to get closer and closer and when you are close enough to pet him just rub him and put a neck rope on him.  It is only after this that you should give him the treat.  Pet him again and walk away or just leave him until the next day.  As you repeat this process he will learn that being with you is a good thing and he will seek out your company and not want to run away.  Take whatever time this takes because when it is done you will never have this problem again and your relationship with your horse will be much bet.

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