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My old mare is kept in a large pasture with the rest of the herd. She's a good riding horse, but she's a real pain to catch. She won't even come near me when I try to lure her with grain. Any tips?

- D. B.

As you may have already noticed, when faced with a big problem, I like to scale it down to a size I can manage. Let's apply that method here. What would you do if you had the mare in a round pen and she refused to come to you?

The answer, of course, is that you'd work her around the pen, teaching her to observe your cues - and that she had no choice but to obey you. As you got her to move and turn on your command, you'd eventually start turning her so she'd face you, then allow you to approach her. Finally, you'd teach her to approach you.

Now, just think of that pasture as a very large round pen. Apply the same principles there that you would in the pen. You will still use your body language to cue her, but you'll probably also need something that will convey your message at a greater distance. I find that a carriage whip works quite nicely for this.

Honestly, I've only had a couple of times when Willy really got it in his mind that he was going to run away from me, but this technique worked wonders. He was in what we call "the six-acre field," and I got a bit of a workout keeping him moving in that big of a circle, but every time he tried to stop, the pop of the whip would get him troting again. By the end of each of those sessions, Willy decided that coming to me wasn't all that bad.

Clearly, it's easier and more effective to teach your mare this groundwork lesson in a real round pen, but sometimes you have to work with what you've got!

I hope this helps!

Happy Riding!

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