Horseproblems Australia
Post Office Box Victor Harbor
SA. 5211
(61) 0885521418






 John O'Leary

© 2000


Horses that are difficult to catch, soon learn that it is easy to tire a human out and we can't run like they can. They learn that they are faster than us, fitter than us and end up thinking that they are smarter than us. The trick is to make them think otherwise.

So, what are the options? There are a few                                         

·        Walk in the paddock with a small container of your horse's favorite food. Try to get your horse to come and eat a handful from the bucket and then immediately walk out of the paddock. Do not touch it. Repeat this a few times each day and the horse will start to understand that it is not always going to be caught and flogged around an arena. 

·        Leave a webbing halter on your horse. An old weak one. Even with a short piece of rope hanging off it, just to give you something to take hold of as the slippery little sucker tries to move away. (do not leave a rope halter on a horse as they do not break should the horse get caught up)

Never carry the lead rope in your hand. This is advertising the fact that you are going to catch the horse and perhaps ride it too hard. Hang the rope over your shoulder, not around your shoulder. The lead rope and the halter should be sitting towards the front so that you can slip the lead around the neck of the horse as the first move.

Never attempt to put a halter on a horse in a paddock until you have slipped the rope around it's neck, taken hold of it on both sides of the neck and have dragged the horse forward a couple of steps. This cements in the horse's mind that it is caught. Then put the halter on. Never try to put a halter on a horse from in front of its head. Always stand to the side. Hold the halter in your left hand and the long strap in your right hand, with your right arm over the neck of the horse. This way, if the horse goes to move away, you can pull on both head piece and long strap, restraining the horse a little and confirming to it that it is caught, even before you put the head part on.

If you carry a bucket of feed and the horse is particularly cagy, have your feed in say your left hand with your right hand beneath the bucket, out of sight of the horse so that you can slowly and quietly grab the small piece of rope. Never snatch as you will startle the horse and it will rip the rope out of your hand.

If there are other horses in the paddock, hand feed them and turn your back on the naughty horse. Make it jealous.

Never wrap a lead rope around your shoulder in case you hook it onto the horse and it runs off, ripping your arm from your body.


If you have the knowledge and ability of a professional, you can re-train your horse to "join up" with you as in the system made popular but not invented by Monty Roberts. This is done in a round yard but I have found that the larger your paddock the less control you have over your horse with the "join up" system, as the horse can gradually become untrained due to the size of the area and the fact that the horse can get too far away from you..  As a trainer and one who will not be beaten, I have used other weapons as an extension of my arm to still have control over such a horse, but from afar.

I have used a trained dog to carry on and keep the "join up" imprinted. If I walk into the paddock to catch the horse, I have the dog with me. If I walk to the horse and it runs off I send the dog onto the horse. (not biting if, just chasing it) Horse gallops around until some fatigue is starting to set in and the horse is starting to show signs I have also used a vehicle if the acreage is too great. Drive around behind your horse as it laps the paddock. Lap after lap. Not fast, just so long as it is trotting or cantering. Be looking for the horse to show body language signs like licking or chewing. Glancing at you rather than having the arrogance of the head in the air or the head tipped to the outside, away from you. Be ready to back off as the horse looks to co-operate. Keep turning the horse and be looking for the slightest sign of it suddenly facing you up rather than it completing the turn to go the other way with it's bum in your face. Another sign that these horses almost always exhibit. On the first occasion that the horse turns towards you rather than away and  at the 1000th of a second, withdraw your body language, vehicle, dog or what ever else you are using to apply pressure. Walk directly to the horse with confidence but with your eyes looking at the ground. Walk to the side front end and on a slight angle to the shoulder. Gently stroke the horse for a while, allowing the horse to soak up the ambience of you being a much nicer place to be than not being with you. i.e... running around endlessly, losing breath and getting major fatigue.

If you want to fully imprint that system or any of the variations of the ‘Join Up’, you must then slowly walk off from the horse, without catching it. Expect it to follow you with no halter on. Walk off in a slight semi-circle from the front towards the back end. You are looking for the horse to turn on the forehand and face you or simply run off again. If it runs off, simply repeat the system by continuing to lap the horse around the paddock in a calm way. You will find however, that things get remarkably easier after the first initial contact as the horse has now found that it is easier to be standing with you, having a rest, than running away.


You stand in the centre of your paddock. Get a group of friends and place them equally around the outside of the paddock. Get them to start chasing the horse around. Every time it comes close to one of them they must chase it off. You stand in the centre of the paddock looking inviting. In the end, the horse will work out that it is better to be near you than those other nasty people and it will stop near you. Walk slowly to it and if it stands, just stroke it for a while and do nothing. Just let it stand next to you. Relaxing, gaining it's breath.You may then catch the horse or imprint it completely. You may want to just walk off slowly, expecting the horse to follow you. If it doesn't, get one of those nasty people to chase it off again and you take up your original position again. The horse will soon come back to you and it will also soon elect to follow you too. That is how to perform another alternative of 'Join Up' when in a larger area.

Leave a long rope dragging off the horse. This depends on the size of your yard or paddock but if you are trying to fix a problem, it would be worth your while to use a size that you have a sporting chance with at least. The rope can be as long as you like but as usual, don't use a rope halter unless you are there and supervising, in which case you should use one. You should also have pr-prepared your horse in a round yard to make sure it is alright with a rope dragging around its legs. This is actually very good for a horse and the more they tread on the rope the better. It lightens up any resistance in the head department and due to the rope getting tangled around their legs, they become much more accepting of this type of feel later. Walk in the paddock a few times per day, pick up the end of the long rope, reel the horse to you, give it a pat, turn your back and walk out. Break the cycle of success for the horse.

In your round yard, train your horse to get used to stockman's hobbles. Horses get used to these in no time but can canter in them once they get things worked out. I then put a 3rd one on (called a sideline) and this takes the run out of them. Remember to get the horse used to everything in the round yard first. Also, as your horse improves, remove such aids with always the view to testing your training success and giving the horse "reward and relief" for improving.

Last year, we purchased a horse that people could never catch. In fact it was purchased from a 10 acre paddock in Lobethal and the purchasers' took 2 years to catch it. We put it in a 100 acre paddock with a group of our brood mares and of course we couldn't catch it either. I fed the mares in their feed bins and then walked to the naughty one. She ran out of the mob straight away and I walked about 15 meters out from them as well. I then got two of my family members to go out another 50 meters and pretend to attempt to catch her as well.  Of course the mare lapped around them and they could not stop her out skirting them and running back into the mob however, I was on the inner perimeter and only had to run a smaller arc of the 15 meters and was able to stop her from getting back into the mob. She had therefore been expelled from the mob by me and I had taken the role of the Alpha Mare. When she started showing some submission in her body language, I walked out of the mob and straight to her. I walked up to her, patted her, turned my back on her and walked back into the mob. She followed right with me and on arrival, I patted her for a while and then put the halter on her. From that day until now, she is perfect to catch.

I have even seen owners with plenty of time on their hands, follow the horse around the paddock, slowly but endlessly, until the horse just gives up because it is all too hard. Follow the horse in a completely passive and silent way, Be looking at it's rump as if there is something interesting there. Eventually the horse will bend it's neck and look directly at you, wondering what the hell you are doing, at the one millionth of a second, veer off away from the horse and stop. Repeat 100 times. The horse will become closer and closer. Keep walking at it's rump until it eventually faces you as a progression of what you have been doing over time and the increase or decrease of the angles of your position. Walk to the horse with your head looking down to the ground. Say nothing. Stroke it's neck, not it's head. Walk out of the paddock.

There are other methods but all require a fair understanding of the art of training. You can train your horse to come to the whistle. To come because you crack a stock whip, to face up just because you continually walk around looking at it's bum or just plain old "Cause your horse likes being with you"

Like anything with the training of horses, if you fail time after time, the horse will deteriorate in its attitude. If you have a successful catching time after time, it will all become a non event.

Leave the horse with a good memory as you let it go. Give it a couple of handfuls of its favorite snack and when riding it, ride with 'Justice' , not like this little 'fulla'

Now here is your foundation stone. Go watch this and do it.


Best of luck



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