The Rider’s Mind Podcast Episode 113: What to do When They Walk Away
What should you do when your horse walks away from you and appears not to want to be caught? In this episode, I’ll share what this might mean and what to do about it.
I don’t have this all figured out, but I have some experience working with horses who walk away when you go to catch them. My horse Jet was difficult to catch and would run around when I went out and I had to try a lot of different strategies with him. I’ve worked with lots of different horses and tried lots of different things. I teach strategies for catching your horse and connecting with them in-depth in Stride, but I’ll give you some pointers in this episode.
There are some different things to consider when your horse walks away from you.
When your horse walks away, where does your mind go?
Do you assume she’s sore? Or that she hates you? Or that you’re a terrible horseperson? Do you wonder why it keeps happening? These thoughts that come up can be clues about your limiting beliefs and they might also be things that need to be investigated for your horse.
I attach meaning and take it personally when a horse walks away from me. I asked my husband what he thinks when a horse walks away and he felt it meant nothing and that he’d just go catch them. Notice the meaning you attach when your horse walks away.
If your horse walks away, where were you in your energy when you approached?
Do you go into the situation worrying that your horse will walk away? Are you bringing energy from your day with you? Before you step towards your horse, be aware of your energy. Get grounded and be present. Establish a connection with your horse before you start thinking about your ride. Are you carrying an energy that will attract your horse?
When your horse walks away, were you paying attention to them?
Did you notice their eyes bugging out before they walked off? Were you watching to see if they look away or raise their head as you approach? A horse wants to be in control and they often know they will lose control once they are haltered. In that final moment of freedom, they might choose to leave if you’re not paying attention. If you notice their stress indicators as you approach, you can pause and back up to draw them into you rather than proceeding towards them. For Squiggles, I can even turn my back to her and she comes up behind me.
If your horse walks away, how did you approach them?
Sometimes experimenting with different angles can help. You might approach them from the side or from the front to see what happens.
Before you go to approach your horse, what are your beliefs about catching horses?
What comes up for you if I suggest that you should just go get a pail of grain to catch them? I was really stubborn around this. Jet would come to me with grain, but I didn’t want to make a habit out of that. Now I wonder what was so wrong with that idea. My life got easier when I let go of the belief that using grain to catch a horse was bad.
When your horse walks away, is this a habit that needs undoing?
Using grain to catch your horse might be a way to start undoing the habit of not wanting to be caught. You might go catch your horse, come to the barn and brush them out and then let them go so they don’t associate being caught with working hard or competing. Instead, they can associate being caught with being loved.
Be aware of the thoughts you have when they walk away. Notice your energy. Consider your connection with your horse. Do your due diligence if you suspect a soundness issue or health issue. Be aware of what your horse associates with you and with your halter.
If you want to learn more, I have several connection videos in Stride where I go into more depth with this. I also teach energy tools for clearing your energy or making a peace offering such as the rose exercise and grounding.
Join the Conversation
Join the discussion in the The Rider’s Mind Community on Facebook. As a member of this community, you’ll also get tips and videos from me.
Learn with Me
If you’re looking to make changes to your mindset, be sure to sign up for my free Next-Level Mindset Mini Course.
You can also join Stride, my next-level barrel racing group. This group receives video training and coaching from me and Stride members have access to special guests. We work on becoming mindful barrel racers so we can show up, be present and perform with great partnership.