Hard to Catch Update

Connor's done some pretty athletic trotting lately.  Unfortunately, I've been able to admire it from the ground as I try to catch him in his paddock:

Frisky.
I caught him NINE TIMES IN A ROW using clicker training.  On the 10th time, his buddy walked between the two of us right as I was about to halter him, and they had a great time playing and scampering through the field for 30 minutes.  Ever since then, it's been back to the same old thing, and the clicker training methods have been largely ineffective.

He really hit a high point (sarcasm) when my mom was there.  I had already brought his buddy in, but he was still running around by himself.  I had the bottom strand of hot wire down as usual, but the top two up, and he went under the top two, pretty much on his knees since it's maybe 2 or 2.5 feet of clearance under there, and escaped.  Of course my trainer was right there teaching a lesson, too.

Moments before the great escape.  You can see the height of the middle strand of hotwire behind him.

What a handsome jerk.

I ruefully yelled "Connor!" as his butt disappeared into the barn at Mach 12.  All of the gates were wide open, but there's nowhere else he'll go except his own stall, so I wasn't worried.  I captured him in someone else's stall, and we got on with our day.

Captured!  The criminal's mugshot.

Back to the drawing board...

24 comments:

  1. Aww man. It is a game for him. It is much more fun to prance around and look cute than it is to stand and get caught.
    Shy has gotten really good about being caught, but every once in a while she likes to play catch me if you can. I know the frustration!
    Hope you can figure something out.

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    1. I was hoping you'd chime in, as the other person with the hard-to-catch pony and experience clicker training. It really is a game for him, you're right and I wish I knew how to defuse that. He walks straight up to me if his buddy isn't there! Thanks. I'm going to give clicker training a break for a month, then reintroduce it outside of the context of catching, then try it again.

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  2. Ponies... Houston isn't hard to catch Persey but I wish he would run to the fence for me like he used to. If he likes his buddy he usually just keeps eating and I have to walk out to get him. He luckily doesn't hightail it in the other direction too often... Interested to see ppls ideas!

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    1. Ponies indeed! Why can't they just be trained to come like dogs?

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  3. I admit that O is harder to catch some days too, but all my methods so far are met with mixed results. So I'm really no help (sorry), just wanted to wish you luck and am curious what you try going forwards!

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    1. I will definitely post what I try, it's such an ongoing struggle.

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  4. Damn. What a snot! I was hoping it was going to be good news! :(
    I haven't been able to try out my clicker training on the big pasture, yet. On the other hand, Fancy Pony has stopped getting uptight when I apprach when she is loose in the arena. She has stopped trying to run from me at all. I'm ready to up the ante as soon as that lot is free on a day I have the time...
    It's always a game for them. If only we could make the game work in our favor...

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    1. Exactly, it is a game. I just need to convince him to include me in his game.

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  5. What a naughty boy! I could transform into a great cutting horse when my old TB used to decide he didnt want to be caught occasionally :) luckily it wasnt the norm. That would be super frustrating!

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    1. Haha! You know, honestly, the cutting horse method has been working for me lately when he's being bad. Normally I would just walk him down and keep his feet moving, but asserting myself seems to work better for him.

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  6. Sounds like it's a fun game for him. I know you're not enjoying it, but I have to say I do miss my little gelding for exactly this reason - if I wasn't careful everything turned into a game and I found a little humor in that. My mares are so serious! Sorry, no great suggestions. I think you've got a good idea in continuing the clicker training in other situations. Ginger can be tempted if I feed the other horses little treats or give them scratches and act like I'm trying to exclude her from the fun.

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    1. You're right, and it's a pony thing too. I've tried to act interested in the other horses, but Connor just ignores me. We both have an independent streak.

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  7. Obviously you just need to open his stall door, catch his buddy, then open the gate to his pasture. He'll sprint for his stall, park himself there, and volia! Captured!

    (Yes, I'm joking. Mostly. Cute little booger though.)

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    1. Funny, that is exactly how the barn staff brings him in at night. He's one of two horses that are allowed to walk into their stalls freely. The rest get herded down the track and then led from there.

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  8. He's adorable when he's naughty :)

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    1. Haha, it's his one saving grace. :)

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  9. Stunning trot photo :-o
    I hope you can find some way to break the cycle.

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  10. Is private turnout in a small paddock an option? Not forever, but maybe until you can get in a good routine? Would turning him out in a halter help? I know some people don't like to, but with a breakaway its perfectly safe.

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    1. He was on private turnout in a paddock for an entire summer, and he walked straight up to me while turned out there. He does the same if turned out alone in a field. Then the second he goes back out with another horse, I can't catch him anymore, and they don't want horses in that paddock long-term anymore. I have turned him out in a halter before, but it doesn't really help. Once I'm close enough to touch him, he'll stand to be haltered, getting that close is the problem.

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  11. That's frustrating. If you go out in the pasture and ignore him would he come up to you? Maybe play with his pasture buddy?

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    1. Tried that, he's too independent, he just continues grazing and ignores me.

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  12. when we wants to run, make him run. Take the lunge whip out there with you. Go to catch him, if he runs, then make him run for a good 5 minutes straight. Give him a break - try and catch him, if he runs - repeat. Once he learns that if he runs he has to work harder - he will learn to stand quietly and wait!

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    1. Been there, done that, many many times. It does not work the way you expect it to with him.

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