How’s it going, audience? Good? Good.

Me, I’m sitting here on my living room couch, procrastinating on packing my room up until the last minute, as usual. As I sat, I thought of something: hey, wouldn’t my blog readers like to read about how to catch a difficult horse in the pasture?

I don’t know, do you? Too late!

Right about now, y’all are probably going “Katie, you don’t know anything about horses, do you? All you need is some grain!”, but everybody knows I like to do things the extra hard way, so if you like doing things the extra hard way, too, then you’re in the right place!

By now, y’all should know that I”m big on using pressure and release with horses, so we’re going to revisit that for this post.

Everyone who’s ever worked with horses is probably familiar with this scenario: you walk out to the pasture, halter in hand,  an your horse — the canny bugger — sees you before you even pick him out of the herd, so he takes off, along with a bunch of others, clear to the other end of the pasture. Or maybe he just trots away a few steps then stops to eat, and repeats the process fifty more times until you’re ready to strangle either him, or yourself. How many of you are familiar with the thing called the drive line? Chances are, if you’re using pressure and release techniques, you know what it is, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain.

The drive line is, well, a line. It’s invisible, of course, but location-wise, it’s very easy to remember, because it rests at the foremost point of the shoulder on any given horse. It’s a reactive line, which means if you step in front of it, the horse will react, probably by turning away from you and beginning to move in another direction.

Here’s your cue to begin using it in the pasture. Your horse is naturally going to want to avoid being caught, because that means you’re going to make him do work, but use this to your advantage. When he begins to move off, you’ve got to chase him a little to get in front of his drive line and give him a little pressure, after which he’ll turn and start off in the opposite direction. You repeat the process a few times, until your horse gets wise, and turns to face you, then you give him release by backing away a few steps. He should come in to you nice and quiet, but if he’s a limey git, he might just stand there, and run off again when you get close. If that happens, repeat all the steps on the box until cooked — I mean, caught.

The best part out of all of that is that eventually your horse learns better, and soon enough, you don’t have any trouble getting to him in the pasture!

While we’re on this subject, we should also probably look at how you approach your horse when trying to catch him. He may get nervous when you come straight at his head, but why? Because this is how predators often come at horses. Coming at a horse from the side doesn’t, and with quiet, confident body language, doesn’t make him nearly as wary of you, because he can see you. Horses’ eyes are located on the sides of their heads, and can move independently of each other, so they can see to the side, behind them, and a little bit in front; that’s why they’re always moving their heads when grazing, they’re looking around!

Pretty cool, huh? Horses are pretty nifty critters, but we all knew that.

So, I’ll end that here, with my usual spiel about spending time with your horses to learn about them. You can’t learn anything if you don’t study your subject, am I right?

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  1. BeccaHargate

    What a great post. I remember when I was a kid, going to down to Farmington, New Mexico where my grandfather was a trainer for race horses. He taught us this exact same process.
    Thanks for bringing back so many good memories. I’m enjoying reading everybody’s posts. And I look forward to many more. 🙂

  2. Anne & Remington

    Absolutely love this method. In a herd of 18 geldings, mine is the only one who comes when I whistle, but only because of many times of practicing this method. Cannot wait to work with such wonderful horseman and woman!

  3. justylonewolf

    i can call my horse by name an most of the time come to me

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