Last year I started riding a mare who was difficult to catch. We spent ages enticing her in initially, and I discovered it is my pet hate. I did a blog about it at the time … Here it is.

She’s been alright over the winter, wearing a head collar and being bribed by carrots. We had the odd day when she’d see me and leg it across the field, but I felt that generally we had a good routine going.

Until the grass came through.

​​Some days have been more successful than others, but I thought you might appreciate some of my tricks.

Firstly, offer the horse nearest her a carrot. If she’s in the right mood she’ll march right over and put her head in my hand.

That only works some days though. Last week she wasn’t interested in her friends having carrots until I angrily through one onto the floor between us. She nosed over, crunched it and then came over for more and I clipped the lead rope on.

This field has some smaller paddocks attached, and if I’m lucky, this mare may be in one, in which case I sneak up and close the gate. Catching her isn’t any easier, but I don’t have as far to walk! Last week I still couldn’t get anywhere near her in the paddock, so I caught her friend who was grazing in the paddock too. Lead her to the gate, and my mare was all over me like a rash – green with envy!

Snapping a carrot, or crunching it loudly myself sometimes attracts her attention enough that she will circle me like a vulture until she’s within carrot reach.

Today, I couldn’t catch her for love nor money; she was legging it from what corner to another, but seemed interested in her field neighbour. When I gave the neighbour a fuss over the fence, my mare stood watching me. So I climbed over the fence and stood in the neighbouring field, stroking the horse. When my mare, intrigued, came over I fed the neighbour a bit of carrot. The grey nose was instantly over the fence and by my hand, so I gave her a carrot and clipped the lead rope on. I win! I only had to negotiate clambering through the fence without letting her go … 

Really, this whole catching malarkey is a game to this mare. No one trick works every day, but now I know how she ticks – she likes my attention and gets jealous easily – I can exploit this in a couple of different methods so hopefully she continues to fall for my tricks! It definitely keeps me on my toes! 

An Agenda?

Someone told me over Christmas that they’d read in a horse behaviour book that horses don’t have an agenda; they act on instinct and don’t try to show you up or let you down. I beg to differ.

Yesterday I went to catch one of the horses I ride; she is in a small herd in a large field, but yesterday she happened to be near the gate – about fifty yards from it. As I walked along to the track she stood, ears pricked, watching me intensely. I called her name, but didn’t get a response. Not that I expected one! 

As I untied the rope around the gate, she turned and cantered to the far end of the field without a backwards glance.

I groaned. I might be here for a while if she didn’t want to come in! So I made my way slowly across the frozen, treacherous field. The whole time, the mare stood watching me, with an innocent butter wouldn’t melt look on her face. And she let me walk straight up to her to clip her lead rope on before following me across the field angelically! 

Now you can’t tell me that this mare didn’t know what she was doing when she ran away from me! She obviously wanted to be caught, as she let me walk straight up to her, but she also wanted me to walk across the field!