Sometimes the simple things work wonders with horses. This is another story I want to share with you about how I caught a horse that was uncatchable. It was during my first job in La Jolla, California where I was hired to handle a large training center of hunters and jumpers. What they like to do in some of these training centers is to play a little joke on you on the first day that you arrive. It’s a way of breaking ice and getting to know you a bit better through laughing together. This is really important when somebody is hired to be the leader and I was hired to manage the whole ranch, so I had several trainers under my care plus many, many horses in training.
Anyway, they gave me a job to go out into a field and get this mare called Misty. They said to bring her in, groom her, and medicate her foot as she had a bad foot. So I went out and got her, brought her in and medicated her foot. However, whilst she was in the cross-ties, she almost killed me! I was on her right side, grooming her, little knowing that she had developed a habit or little trick of her own, which was to try and slam people up against the wall with her body as hard as she could. Well, she tried this on me but as luck would have it, I somehow managed to avoid the blow, which was just as well as I cannot even begin to imagine the damage that she would have done to my body if she had succeeded.
As you can imagine, I was really unhappy with the people at the center because they must have known about this habit and I could not believe that they would pull such a trick on me. So, I went to the man who had hired me and I was really livid. I said, “How could you do that to a human being? I could have been
He said, “Wait a minute, you got Misty out of the field?” And I said, “Yes.” He said, “Oh! I had no idea that you were going to get that far with her. She’s been out in that field for three years and nobody has ever caught her. We’ve been out there with up to 10 people but she always got away from us. How on earth
did you ever get a halter on that mare?” he asked.
“Well, that’s interesting,” I said. I think he was expecting me to go into great detail about what I’d done and the brilliant horsemanship skills I must have used. I went on, “As I was approaching the field she was in, I called her name and she just ran down and put her head on the outside of the fence. So I put the halter on her without even entering the field, then just opened the gate and walked her out.”
She was actually the easiest horse I have ever caught out in a field. I did not have a grain bucket with me or anything. So, it is just really interesting that nobody ever thought of just calling her name. So I guess the moral to this story is always try the simple, obvious things first before going on to something else.