Dappled grey horse being caught in a field

How to catch a horse

A big part of owning a horse is, unsurprisingly, catching them. So, here's a simple step by step guide on how to catch your horse, but it's important to remember that all horses are individual, so may require a different approach to catching them, depending on their personality or training needs.

What you’ll need:

  • A head collar with a soft, padded nose band that’s well fitted and not too tight for your horse
  • A lead rope which you’ll need to clip onto your head collar
  • Treats for your horse to reward them for calm behaviour

Horse body language

From the moment you step into your horse’s stable or field, it’s useful to read their body language. You want them to associate you with something positive, which will help ensure they’re happy to be caught in different environments.

A calm horse will have a lower neck and will be content to graze and relax while you’re there.

Remember that horses are prey animals so have a high flight instinct, which means they can spook easily. Their field needs to be their safe space for relaxing, sleeping and eating, so respect their space and always approach calmly.

How to catch your horse

Step one: Call your horse’s name before walking calmly and quietly towards them, this will help them know you’re there
Step two: Before placing the head collar on them, start by giving them a nice neck scratch which releases happy hormones and has been proven to lower their heart rate
Step three: Once you’ve established that your horse is happy with you being there, you can slowly approach with the head collar and lead rope
Step four: You’ll need to slip the nose band of the head collar over the nose, lift it up over their face and pop the head piece over the top of their ears
Step five: Once you’ve buckled this up you can reward them by giving them a tasty treat

If at any point your horse tries to walk away from you or shows signs of being worried, go back a step and give them a nice scratch and a treat to reassure them. 

Important: It’s never a good idea to walk after your horse if they walk away from you, it’ll only increase their flight instinct

If you have a more difficult horse, it’s worth speaking to a professional, positive equine behaviourist who will work with you to find a way that suits your horse.

— Page last updated 10/02/2023