Simply walking into a crowd of horses in a pasture to catch one may be unsafe. Scaring your horse, getting crowded by other horses and getting tangled by your gear are a few hazards that you can encounter when catching a horse that's loose in a pasture or paddock. Here's how you can catch your horse quickly and safely.
Organize Your Halter and Lead Rope for Safety
Carry your horse’s halter and a lead rope with you. You should always use a lead rope to lead your horse. Simply pulling your horse along by its halter increases the chances of its getting away from you if it pulls away, and of getting your fingers caught in the halter rings. If your horse wears a halter in the pasture, you’ll just need the lead rope. If you need to put the halter on your horse, be sure it’s already fitted so you don’t have to fiddle when you put it on.
Have the snap or crown piece undone, so it’s ready to put on the horse.
Carry the rope and halter close to your body. Don’t drag it on the ground, as this could spook your horse. Don’t loop it around your body in any way, such as wearing the rope around your waist, or looping anything around your hands.
Approach Your Horse Safely
Approach the horse from the side, or slightly off center from the front. This is so the horse can see you coming and you’re not ‘sneaking up’ from the rear which could scare it. If you frighten your horse, it may run off, or if you’re close enough, lash out with its heels. Remember that horses often react before they think. Speak to your horse, and any horse nearby so they know you’re there.
When you reach your horse, place the lead rope over its neck, close behind the ears, to create a loop you can hold onto. This will help you keep the horse close to you should it decide it doesn’t want to be caught. You can keep hold of this loose loop as you do up the halter.
Slide the halter up over the horse’s nose, and then either slide the crown of the halter over the horse’s ears, and fasten the snap at the horse’s cheek, or bring the crown over the head and fasten the buckle.
Then attach the snap of the lead onto the loop under the nose band of the halter.
Pull the rope off of the horse’s neck, and hold it in your hands, ready to lead your horse.
A few things you will want to pay attention to:
- Shut any gates behind you when entering and exiting the pasture. Even if you think you’ll only leave the gate ajar for a moment, it’s long enough for another loose horse to slip through.
- Be aware of herd pecking order, so you don’t get between the horse pasture bully and the underdog by accident, and are ready to deal with the situation if you must catch either.
- Don’t carry treats out with you. You’ll easily get mugged and it’s not safe to get crowded between horses jostling for a treat.
- Wear your helmet and proper safe footwear.
- Ask horses to move away if they are crowding you as you catch your horse.
- Don’t let horses crowd you and the horse you’re leading as you go through gates or doors.
- If you’re worried about getting crowded by a pushy horse, carry a whip with you to extend your reach. Most often just ‘shaking your finger’ at these horses is enough to tell them to give you and the horse you’re leading space. This is essential when leading through gates and doors.
- Kids shouldn’t go out to catch a horse, especially if there’s more than one in the pasture, on their own.
- Make sure that your horse is easy to catch. You might find, Catching a Hard to Catch Horse helpful if you’re horse avoids getting caught.