North Carolina 11 month old Tennessee Walker working in pasture & stall by intermediate level rider.

Question: I know she is still a baby, but I have been working with her since birth.  I am having a little trouble catching her to put her halter on.  She will not let me just walk up to her like the other horses.  I do not put the halter on her everytime, so she will not associate me walking up to her with having the halter put on.  I do not feel that bribing her with treats is a good idea.  What do you think or any suggestions.

From Panelist Erica

I would recommend just going out and socializing with her. Get her used to handling without a halter - don't depend on the halter to control the baby. I too do not like to use treats for any purpose of training as I feel they are distracting. When you do go out with the halter just walk up to her confidently but not aggressively and pet her - then walk away. 

Practice going out in the pasture all the time with the halter in hand and never putting it on her. Eventually work up to slipping it over her nose and taking it off - do not put it over her ears yet. Reward her for accepting you handling her with the halter. Practice slipping it on and off of her head. Rewarding every session you do this. Eventually she will not mind the
halter and realize that it is not going to stay on forever. 

Good luck with her!
Erica Frei

From Panelist Nancy

Why make it hard on yourself.  You want her to associate something pleasant when she sees you so bribe her with a treat.  You won't have to do it for very long.  Look at it from her point of view.  When we go to work we expect to be paid.  That's just my opinion and that's what I would do.

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Lee

Can you walk up to her alone in a corral or is this just a problem in the larger pasture with other horses around?  I think I would work with her alone in a smaller area first, if at all possible, just walking up, petting her, then letting her go.  If all you have to do this is is stall, try it there first.  Bribes are OK in this instance -- if you have her in a dry lot to work with, just a handfull of hay will work. She needs to associate you with good things, and the chief good thing in a young horse's life is food, followed by having whatever itches scratched or rubbed. Frequently practice walking up to her without a halter, giving her a bite of hay, petting her, then walking away.

If she won't even let you walk up to her, you have to pique her curiosity -- one of the most effective ways to get a horse to come to you is to put them in a small enclosure with no food, enter the enclosure, then ignore them.  Read a book, mend tack, whatever, until the horse is so curious about what you are doing she can't stay away.  Pretty soon, she will
be practically reading over your shoulder to see what is going on.  You can then start gently petting etc until she accepts you.

You may also be having a problem with haltering because of some haltering techniques that may not be working well.  Often younger horses don't take well to the confinement of a halter over their noses and pull away.  It works better to put a neck rope on them, leaving the head free. 

Treats and bribes are a useful part of training for many horses -- the only problem you are likely to have with them is if you give them out for no reason, all the time, and the horse grows to expect them every time.  IMO, a bite of hay hardly qualifies as a "treat" -- but it can work wonders if you are trying to earn a horse's trust.

Good luck with this young horse.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelist Darla

Do round pen work with her and just you.  Just keep her moving until she stops and faces you then put the halter on and pet and reward her with words and petting.  Keep doing that until she just stands and lets you do it for a petting reward.  Take it slow and give her time to come around.  Keep things really calm and be in A GOOD MOOD!


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