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Horse Behavior and Training

How to "join up" with a wild -- but lame -- horse?


I am staying at a ranch which has taken in some rescue horses on a 40 acre pasture -- one of which is an old retired rodeo horse who is essentially wild now, and extremely human shy.

I've been working on getting him to trust me, and at this point I can get him to accept feed by hand, but BARELY the occasional touch (only on his head, only the gentlest "accidental" brush on his side).

He's also become lame, but won't allow me to examine him, let alone to help treat him. I want to join-up with him so that he won't fear me trying to help him, but how can I do a regular join-up with a horse who is lame and keeping his distance? I'm afraid he will injure himself if I try to get him to move out. That "magic" quarter mile is out of the question -- he can't walk without pain.

What can I do to achieve a join-up without needing to make him move out?


Miriam (Holland&Germany)
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed 600 lessons completed 650 lessons completed

Hi Rebecca, having a remedial rodeo horse is ofcourse a huge challange!
Did you see "You and your wild horse"? Monty works with a buddy-horse for a couple of days, a horse that is used to being handled. After having the 2 build up their trust, his wild horse is willing to follow the buddy into a shute. It will take some time to let the horse see there is no harm in the enclosure. Once in there and more or less at ease( the buddy still in front of your horse), you can start de-sensitizing with a false-arm etc, so the horse gets used to being touched. Remember this takes a professional, but sometimes you have no other choice than to try. Maybe there is a way for you to see this video before you start working. Keep safe and good luck! Miriam

Kasia - Monty's instructor


I agree with Miriam – it may take less time and less pain if you try to get your horse in some sort of safely built enclosure and then proceed with th edirections from Monty’s video. Chasing him around the pasture when his is lame will only make him associate human beings with more pain. You can still use some of the elements of Join Up while trying to get to him: arching in front of him, using advance and (gentle, maybe just with your eyes) retreat, staying calm and gentle in your movements.
Since he already associates some comfort with grain and your presence, you may try to put some grain in the shute. However, try to avoid feeding from hand – it will create another problem for future. Instead, if you want to keep getting closer to him using food, use a bucket or other wide-open top container.

Good luck. Kasia