As winter fast approached it was time to up the ante and get on with the job in hand.
Now as I mentioned I was a total novice in the art of catching the uncatchable (that is excepting age 6 when my first welshie took the pee for 3 weeks when we got him home and refused to give in even when I wept).
I felt a book was in order so sent off for Kelly Marks, Handling the Untouched Horse. The book was full of good common sense.
The basic procedure was join up. I'd done a little of this type of stuff but never with an untrained horse, let alone one I'd never caught. So I constructed the pen and a track leading to it from the stable that he had been using. So he could be in the pen or in the stable. Off we went to the pen, shooed him down into it and...
Hey, I was good! I had join up in five minutes (ah yes pride, fall etc).
He joined up, did the licky chewy stuff and I walked up with my rope. He ran off. We joined up (he was like a bee to a honey pot), he legged it.
Now being rather dim I took this to heart and re-read my Kelly book (lucky it was short). I was NEVER going to get near him holding a rope so what the hell was I going to do?
Day two and more join up. I now realise this was a bad move. He wasn't unhappy to join up and he had 'got it', what he didn't get was contact.
Now had I been clever I would have quickly put two and two together and realised that he did the same thing in the field with the other horses. He would stick close, follow them around the field but the second they turned to him he backed way off.
As I said I was blind to what he was telling me, I do hope that today I would have picked up the signals quicker. In any case it finally clicked (after days spent in the pen, talking, walking and making it gradually smaller) that something more extreme maybe required.
I put guided him into the stable. I had a plan and I got all my tools to hand.I went into the adjoining stable and clambered (via the manger) onto the adjoining wall. I took my long rope in my right hand and hurled it through the rails on top of the wall. I fed a good bit of the rope through the rails and over his neck and then used a garden hoe to 'pick up' the loose end of the rope dangling by his feet. I fed the loose part back through the rails to my hand.
The amazing thing was that whilst I did this he showed no fear, he just stood stock still and stared at me.
So now I had him but I was still in the next stable (scratch head, I suppose I hadn't thought this would work so I hadn't planned too far ahead, doh). I decided to leave the rope over the wall, through the rails and try going into his stable to grab them. The gods were on my side and I managed to grab one end of the rope before he turned away. The rest is a bit foggy. I'm a girl I probably cried or at the very least misted over. I got the head collar on with no fuss and I reckon Jaile just breathed a huge sigh of relief.
It wasn't the most technically brilliant catching of an untamed horse and I definitely won't be selling any books off the back of it but it did teach me some big lessons. Lessons in humility and communication. I should have worked it out sooner that the poor chap just couldn't bridge the gap between closeness and contact?
Within a week he was in the stables across the lane, farrier had trimmed him (with little fuss) and he would lead around the place like a lamb.
Over the winter we worked on the ground, in-hand and lunging (wish I'd known clicker then) and he would wear his bridle and saddle with no fuss. I had lots of work with three of my own plus liveries to work but fate was at hand. I had met a lovely lady called Lou and being very interested in horses she asked could she come round and see ours.
To cut a long story shorter she met Jaile, I explained his history and she asked what I would do with him now I had caught him. The truth was that I had not got enough time for him but there and then I offered him to Lou. Jaile was free but I was insistant that she had a companion for him when she took him home to her place. We worked further with Jaile for a couple of months until Lou was confident to take him home.
Lou and her family are still friends and I still see Jaile from time to time, he blossomed into a calm horse, suitable for Lou AND her kids to ride. He hacks out on the quiet chemins where they live and shares his life with two mares. For me a very happy ending to his story.
Oh dear, I'm misting again.