Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chilcotin Holidays

Catching a horse

Catching a horse is the first basic step to learn when you want to be on a ranch. You need to be able to do it it when you want to go riding, when you want to practice trimming or shoeing, when you want to treat a horse (for instance for the annual spring deworming) or sometimes just to bring horses back to their pasture when they have jumped their fence. Everybody can do it, no worries. However, it can be sometimes a little bit tricky whether or not you are experienced with horses even though they tend to test you more if they feel you are a novice horse catcher!

So, first, grab a halter, with your hands empty your are not going to catch any horse. It is true that sometimes we do not use a halter, for instance if we want to move the entire herd. But if you want to move only a few horses than it will probably be more efficient with halters. We have a saying here: “ Sometimes shortcuts are longer than the normal way”.

As a city girl, I do not have a lot of experience with horses, to not say not at all. So many of simple and current techniques for riders were just entirely new for me. For example, when you approach a horse, do it towards the head, laterally so that it can see you and most important approach normally! If you try to approach little by little, slowly, without making a noise, you will just scare it as you will look like a predator that circles his prey. And then good luck to catch it if you just make it spook by scaring it. So just take the halter an go towards the horse directly in a way that he see you coming. That is one of the first lessons I learned!

Then it mostly depends on the will and mood of the horse, they are sometimes really cooperative or on the contrary decide that there is too much good food and they do not want to go for a ride. There you have the opportunity to practice your skills to be the “boss”, the decider rather than let the horse choose. And it seems that they can feel that you are inexperienced or unsure. After a few weeks at the ranch there was a huge difference in the way horses were responding to my directives! And I must admit it took me at least one week to be confident and non hesitate anymore on the way to put the halter on. During my first week I was struggling to figure out where the muzzle of the horse was suppose to fit in the halter! Now it seems pretty obvious.

It also depends a lot on the horse, I have now met horses with really different characters. For example, Scout was just so patient with me! She was grazing but knew I was coming to get her, so she literally gave me her head and was gently waiting while I was struggling with halter until she knew I was finished and began to graze again! There is also Willy who is even more willing to come! When he sees that we are coming to catch some horses he often just come along, ready to go! I met other horses that were more “playful” and just turn around so you can not catch their head. For those ones you just have to practice you leadership skills and once you have caught them they are just as gentle and patient as the others.

The process of learning to catch a horse was full of tiny adventures and good moments spent with the horses!

Chilcotin Holidays

About Chilcotin Holidays

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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