How to catch a Mustang

A few scenes from June’s vlog: getting mustang Eli out of the turnout.

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A lot of horses have problems with that, in this case the horse runs away. I wouldn’t chase every horse around, not every horse reacts the way you’d want them to. Eli is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse, but genuinely still scared of humans from time to time. And in an arena this big, you’ll be the one doing the running instead of the horse.

Instead, walking backwards toward the horse while using your selfie camera as a mirror to watch the horse’s body language (I’m not kidding!) is way more effective! Plus they feel less threatened when you’re walking backwards. I don’t sneak up on him, I just position myself in a kind-of straight line that ends with me standing next to his flank. If he’s eventually settled in with that, I use my hand to ask if it’s OK and see if he accepts my attempt to make contact. Horses use their mouths/noses to say “hi” and make first physical contact. Us humans use our hands to explore new things and say “hi”. My hand may not be the same as a horse’s nose, but by gently rubbing the back of my hand at his shoulder, my hand will carry a bit of his scent and first physical contact has already been made at a less threatening place: his flank.

Breaking it down into little steps like this takes minutes, sometimes hours. It definitely didn’t come together as fast as the video shows (I wish!). It took about 20 minutes from entering the arena to haltering him.

*I am not the only one working with Eli, the owners of the rescue and their family turnout horses as well and so do our new group of volunteers. I made sure I worked a bit more often with Eli to prevent and solve some problems with him being turnout or haltered.

Watch me working with Eli, a Mustang gelding that’s sometimes having trouble letting people get close to him.

Love, Zoë

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