This month’s expert gives advice on catching elusive horses and teaching a fidgety gelding to stand calmly while tied.
As a teenager, Jaton Lord began working for his grandfather, Ray Hunt, traveling with the legendary horseman to clinics across the country. After high school, Lord took full-time buckaroo jobs on the Van Norman and YP ranches of Nevada. The horsemanship lessons he learned from Hunt and while living on the wagon helped Lord make the transition to training performance horses.
At age 23 he began working for Idaho cow horse breeder Annie Reynolds. During that time, from 2008 to 2010, he won more than $70,000 in cow horse competition and qualified for the open finals at the 2009 National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity. After that, Lord worked for several other reined cow horse programs before striking out on his own in Arizona. At the 2014 Magnificent 7 stock horse competition, Lord tied for second and won $5,655 on Peptos Smart Style.
Here, two readers ask Lord to help them with their horse problems.
Q. My horse has become very difficult to catch, and it’s embarrassing. He lets me get close with the halter, and then as soon as I reach to put the lead rope over his neck, he bolts. If I can surprise him when he’s hanging out in his stall, rather than in the pasture, I can close the gate and he knows he has no chance. Then he lets me saddle him and we have a nice ride. I know he enjoys our rides through the pine trees and hills behind our property. But it’s frustrating to spend 15 or 20 minutes just trying to corner him in our 5-acre pasture. Do you have any strategies for catching a horse quickly? —Bill, North Carolina
A. One way would be to bait him into a smaller area with grain, and make that the routine for a while. Then build up to being able to walk out to the field with grain and the horse come to you. Try not to associate drama with him being caught. Getting caught needs to be more of a reward. The main thing to think about here is how you can set yourself and your horse up for success. In this instance, it’s making it as peaceful as possible to be caught.
Q. I have a 4-year-old gelding that will not stand quiet while he’s tied up. He paws and fidgets, even when the other horses are nearby. I yell at him to stop, but that only works for a little while. What can I do to make him stand content and not try to dig a hole to China? —Renae, Utah
A. First, make sure he has had exercise of some kind. Maybe you turn him out to play on his own, or you ride him beforehand.?After that, tie him up in a place that is safe, possibly with a buddy nearby. Then, you leave him (as long as that may take) until he can stand like a gentleman. Once he settles down, immediately reward him by turning him loose. Our human tendency is to want to help and make it easier on horses, but in this case the horse needs to find the answer on his own, without our interference. It’s not punishment for him to stand still at the pole; it’s just a learning process.