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Carol S.

Dear Debbie,

I have two Thoroughbred's that want to stay out in the field all the time. We have a lovely barn and sometimes I can't get them to come in? Any suggestions.

Carol S.

Hello Carol!

I wanted to talk to a friend of ours about your horses not wanting to come in, and get a second opinion for you. Here is what we think: First, it depends on how large your pasture is and how far away your horses are from the barn. We both like the idea of having a 'catch area' that funnels off of your large pasture and allows you to move your horses closer to your gate area so you can bring them in easier. This area needs to be aprox. 100 x100 or less. Steve Smith from Delta, Oh has world championship horses and he suggests that horses need to be 'told, not asked' to listen to you. If you even 'move' your horses into the smaller area by using a long lounge whip (the whip acting as your extended arm or like a wing on the side of a jump to guide your horses and your voice to tell them what you want "move on") and just 'guiding' them there, they are 'being told' by you to move where you want them. The lounge whip needs to be used as an aid, not as a means of scaring them or chasing them. This would give the wrong signal to your horses. After consistency and time they will understand that you want them in the smaller 'catch area' and will start to listen to you (and go to it themselves when called). Once in the smaller area, you can more easily halter them to lead into the barn. If its not possible to have a smaller area off of your pasture, you might consider having a 60' round pen that they can go into. Its large enough to be inviting, yet small enough that you can then separate them to halter and bring them into the barn. Steve also cautions to not use many different commands and also be sure to use the proper command so your horses don't get confused. For example, 'whoa' sounds a lot like 'slow' so avoid using words that sound the same. "Move on" and "walk" sound very different and are not confusing to your horse when you consistently use the word ques at the right time. I think we are the ones that need the training! :) Once we are consistent and give the right signals, our horse can listen to us and understand. I hope this makes sense to you and would love to know how it works for you! Thank you Carol and don't give up!

- Debbie

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