Approaching a Horse in a Field or a Paddock Copy

Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Approaching a Horse in a Field or a Paddock Copy

This approach should be handled in virtually the same manner as described above, as long as the horse is cooperative. The significant difference is that the horse may not want to be caught! There are strategies that work well, especially if the field isn’t too large (check out “natural horsemanship” resources if interested in more ideas and detailed explanations!). For example, sometimes simply doing something other than going toward the horse can stir its curiosity. (Go up to a different horse, or look at something on the ground, or walk away from it.)

Another strategy (if the field isn’t too large) is to make going away from you more work than coming toward you. When the horse moves away, swing the rope (overhand this time) toward her and use your body language (bending forward, speeding up, driving intent) to drive her away faster. Anytime the horse shows progress in the right direction (either stopping when she’d been moving away, or turning a head toward you when she had been turned away), then take a step back and relax your body language as a reward to the horse. Often they will quickly decide it is less work to come toward you, or at least to allow you to approach.

Another option often used is food. There are a few drawbacks to this approach however, perhaps the biggest being a potentially dangerous situation for you if there is more than one horse present and they proceed to fight over access to the food. Some owners will not want their horse to be expecting treats, especially if it teaches them to “hold out” for treats or to search hands or pockets and possibly start a biting habit. The owner may also have dietary concerns for their horse. In any case, it is always recommended to check with an owner before offering any food.

The general guidelines of judging attitude before approaching, not approaching from the rear, appropriate form of first contact, etc., are all the same as for approaching in a stall. If you are approaching a horse in a field, it is your responsibility to be aware of other animals, gates and other entryways, and safe passage. In your practice, it may be best to solicit the aid of the guardian or someone familiar with the horse if they are proving difficult to catch.