Jason explains how to tie your horse up safely.
I was teaching at a clinic recently and a lady unloaded her horse and tied him to the side of the lorry ready to tack up, he promptly snapped the bailer twine (because he knew he could!) and was cantering around the car park with a look of triumph on his face. A scene of choas unfolded as people were trying to catch him and he was dodging their advances resulting in him crashing into some wheelbarrows parked near the gate. Luckily he was fine but the poor owner was very upset and later explained: “he has to get that out of his system before he’s happy to stand still and does it every time I tie him at home or away”. Obviously this was an established problem and one I see all too often so this blog is going to talk about tying horses up and the series of videos to watch on the Your Horsemanship site to teach your horse to tie up patiently and safety.
What you need to get started
All the below items are available on my shop page: Shop
- A Safe Tie training aid
- 12 foot rope – suitable for horse that knows how to tie up
- 20 foot rope for horses that are learning to tie up such as young horses
- Ideally a rope halter
What is a Safe Tie?
This is the training aid I use at my training centre as it is simple, very safe and anyone can use it. The Safe Tie allows horses to pull back without injuring or freeing themselves. At the same time it creates enough resistance as they pull back to make the horse want to step forward to release the halter pressure rather than continue to pull back. For the horse who simply pulls back because it can, (a little like the horse I described from the clinic!) the Safe-Tie basically calls their bluff and they very quickly stop attempting to break free, it’s simply too much hard work. For young horses the tie doesn’t frighten them as they don’t feel restricted, if they pull back it prevents them panicking as they do if they are tied solidly (which can cause serious injury!) or with bailers twine which will break and teach them that’s an easy “out” which creates a habit like the horse I described. As you will see from the video series I always prepare every horse with some basic pressure and release ground work and desensitising before attaching them to the Safe-Tie. The reason for this is I want to make it easy for the horse to do the right thing and with a small amount of preparation work they quickly make the right choices when tied up and react as I would want them to.
Teaching Your Horse to Tie up Safely
I have a series of videos about this on the Your Horsemanship website, please take a look as even the most reliable horse will benefit from this work: Tie Up Videos
How to stop the Fidget
Please watch my video on fidgeting as it’s a frustrating problem and with some consistency you can cure it: Fidgeting Video
If you have a fidget on your hands this can be very frustrating and you can end up being bumped out of their space, some horses fidget as they are anxious and others do it to make life harder on you. Whatever the reason the video exercises will help you.
A simple exercise: Firstly move you horse away from you whilst they are tied so they are standing more parallel to the fence. Once you have moved them pause and give them a stroke (the pause lets your horse know that is a good place to stand), walk behind them, keeping a safe distance and touch the fence or wall on the other side which may simulate them to want to fidget again. If they move before you reach the fence walk back to the other side and insist they move back to where you originally placed them. You and your horse can have this conversation going back and forth for what may seem like a long time but your horse will soon learn the easiest thing to do is stand where you ask while you move around them. It is a case of being consistent, very patient and repeating the exercise putting them back where you ask them to stand every time they fidget…trust me you will get there!
Tips for a Fidgety Horse
The above routine of placing your horse back where you asked them to stand should be done whenever you are handling them, if they bump into you or fidget put them back where you wanted them to stand.
If you are working close to your horse make sure you are out of harms way before getting them to move back to where you would like them.
Moving your horse may require different amounts of energy from using a voice command to having to give them a few bumps with a long rope or crop. It is important that if you go to the trouble of asking them to move their feet that your horse moves. You are only asking for a couple of steps but those couple of steps will change your horses attitude toward you for the better, which will in turn reduce the fidget until it eventually disappears.
If you notice your horse isn’t paying attention to you, address that first before you move on with your handling work (refer to my last blog to recap this BLOG). Remember without their attention you are in a vulnerable position with little control and they will not learn until they are focused, settled and paying attention to your cues. Then move on with the tying up or fidgeting exercises, remain consistent and you will have a horse that you can tie anywhere, who will wait patiently and who can cope with what is going on around them without trying to break free.
Good Bye for now and be sure to “Get In and Get On”