How to Catch a Horse Who Runs from You

For horse lovers, one of the most frustrating experiences is trying to catch a horse who doesn’t want to be caught. Maybe you’ve had a long day at work and are eagerly looking forward to a relaxing trail ride, or perhaps you need to catch your horse to haul him to a horsemanship clinic.

Either way, if you can’t catch your horse, chances are that you’ll feel angry and upset when your horse runs from you and refuses to be caught.

So how do you catch a horse who won’t be caught?

As always, there’s no pat answer that will apply to every horse. Some horses avoid being caught because of past trauma, while other horses simply enjoy a good game of chase. In general, though, the way to successfully catch horse who runs from you has a lot to do with his personality type.

How to Catch a Horse Based on his Personality Type
If your horse is healthy and happy, meaning he isn’t suffering from some physical problem or the victim of some past trauma, he still might run from you when you go to catch him. To minimize the amount of time it takes to catch your horse, you have to first understand why he’s running from you. You can figure this out by determining his horse personality type. Learn more about personality types at Horse Harmony and Horse Harmony Test.

Like people, horses have distinct personalities, and each type avoids being caught for different reasons. So let’s take a look at each type, as well as the reasons each type might refuse to be caught.

The Fire Horse Personality Type

These horses love to be at the center of attention, and need a lot of love and grooming to stay happy. They need daily contact from their human, even if it is just a few minutes of petting and scratching out in the pasture. If your Fire horse runs from you, chances are that you haven’t been spending enough time with him, and he is pouting. Fire horses do hold grudges, and tend to “make you pay” for any lack of attention.

To catch a pouting Fire horse, be patient but don’t give up. Follow him slowly and avoid getting angry. When you do catch him, offer him a treat or two as a reward. Pet him and reward him lavishly with your affection. And, in the future, to avoid this kind of pouting, try to spend some quality time every day with your Fire horse, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. You’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts with a loving and loyal horse who is easy to catch.

The Wood Horse Personality Type
The Wood horse, being mischievous and fun-loving, truly does enjoy a good game of catch. He thoroughly enjoys making his human “work” to catch him, and is especially pleased if he can get his person angry in the process. Wood horses take game-playing to a whole new level. A Wood horse might also avoid being caught if he feels he hasn’t had enough turnout or playtime. Wood horses need a lot of exercise and freedom before they are ready to get down to work.

To catch a horse with a Wood personality, first be sure that he has plenty of room to run and play on a daily basis. Wood horses have energy to burn, and trying to catch this kind of horse before he’s burned off his excess energy is like trying to hold onto a lit firecracker. If your Wood horse has had plenty of turnout but still refuses to be caught, the next step is to go into game mode. If you approach the process in a playful mood, chances are your horse will get a kick out of running for a few minutes, and then reward your playfulness by allowing himself to be caught. You might also entice him by offering him a varied training program. Wood horses love to do something different every day, so by offering him variety in his training rather than repetitive drilling, he’ll look forward to being caught and going to work.

The Earth Horse Personality
Food, food, and more food. Food is the currency of choice when you want to catch a horse with an Earth personality type. Most of the time, Earth horses are quite lazy, and will only run from you if they perceive that being caught means less food. For instance, if your Earth horse is turned out on a lush green pasture and you want to catch him so you can ride him in endless 20 meter circles, he’s going to run because there’s no food in the dressage arena.

To make it easier to catch an Earth horse, make it a routine to offer him a significant food reward every time he allows himself to be caught. For instance, if he is already turned out on a green pasture, be sure to offer him a handful or two of sweet feed after you have caught him. The Earth horse has a tremendous sweet tooth, and will do almost anything for a sweet treat. By making the sweet treat a routine every time you catch your horse, he will become easier to catch over time because he knows he’s getting something good as soon as the halter goes over his head.

The Metal Horse Personality
The Metal horse is one of the most challenging horses to catch. Because Metal horses value their solitude above all else, they avoid being caught at all costs. Many a person has been known to expand their vocabulary of curse words while trying to catch a Metal horse. Luckily, once you do catch a Metal horse, he will work for you until you tell him to quit. His avoidance of being caught isn’t about dodging work, it’s just a manifestation of his solo personality.

To catch a Metal horse, you either have to find his weakness, or drive him into a smaller area where he knows he can’t run from you. For instance, if your Metal horse lives on a giant pasture, you might have to drive him into a corral before you can catch him. But a Metal horse isn’t all that easy to drive, so you might have to catch and lead another horse into the corral first. Your Metal horse will most likely follow this other horse, though at a distance. When you’ve tied the other horse, also known as a “Judas horse,” in the corral, you can more easily drive the Metal horse into the corral. Once trapped in a small enclosure, your Metal horse is most likely to turn and face you, knowing he’s caught.

The other option is to find a Metal horse’s weakness. For instance, I know of one Metal horse in a dude string who easily eluded wranglers for weeks, but had a weakness for carrots. If you brought a large bag of carrots with you into the pasture, you could catch this horse within 15 minutes. Another Metal horse loved to team rope, and allowed himself to be caught only if you carried a lariat into the pasture along with his halter.

The Water Horse Personality
Being the most fearful of the five horse personality types, the Water horse tends to run because of fear. Your Water horse may not fear you, but he may fear what you will do to him once he has been caught. For instance, if he is overwhelmed by his training program, he’ll avoid being caught so he can avoid those fearful experiences. And on some days, he may just be stuck in his “fight or flight” reflex. For example, if you try to catch a Water horse on a windy or stormy day, he might run from you just because the whole day is downright scary.

To catch a horse with this kind of personality, your first priority is to make him feel as safe as possible in all situations. Keep your training sessions short and be sure they take place in an environment where your horse feels safe. This ensures that your Water horse won’t avoid being caught because of his fear of training. If you can’t catch your Water horse on a particular day because he is stuck is his “fight or flight” reflex, catch a different horse instead and offer that horse some yummy treats. Your Water horse, seeing that the other horse is safe and being rewarded, will soon come over to investigate. Then you should be able to catch him easily.

Because Water horses tend to be fearful and flighty, you may also want to consider adding herbal supplements to his diet to keep him calm and relaxed. I’ve discovered that either Eleviv or RelaxBlend work best for these kinds of horses.

How to Catch a Horse – Make Sense?
I hope the descriptions of each horse personality type shed some light on the reasons why each type avoids being caught. This means you have to approach each type of horse differently when he’s running from you. Whether you need to adopt a “games” posture to catch the playful Wood horse or you need to bring the independent Metal horse into a smaller space, hopefully this article gives you some ideas for catching your horse … and reduces your frustration when your horse does run from you.

Horse Personality Type Test
Horse Personality Type Information
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Horse Personality Type Educational Audios
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4 thoughts on “How to Catch a Horse Who Runs from You

  1. Randy

    Great post!

    I have always thought that I was supposed to be smarter than the horse. (Now I’m not so sure.) I guess even with a horse a little psychology goes a long way.

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  3. photonell

    My Wood Horse loves a good chase, only I don’t chase anymore. I just walk toward him and he runs. At 23, it makes me laugh that he still has this playfulness about him. After about 10-15 minutes, he will stand still and let me halter him. I always build that time into my ride time.

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