View Full Version : how to teach a scared or bad horse to cross tie?

Apr. 28, 2010, 09:31 PM
hey all i didnt know where to post this, so im doin it in here because you have all given good advice before. So im half leasing a 4yr old 16.2h tb gelding. who has really bad ground manners. I purchased a control halter for him and he has been responsive to that while leading him around. Now the problem is when we go in the barn. If he's in a stall he stall walks and wont stand still to tack him up or groom him. And he hates! the cross ties. a couple weeks ago i tried to put him on the cross ties to see what hed do and he freaked out, was kicking, rearing, he actually at one point sat down on his butt and was pulling against the ties. i was afraid he was going to flip over, so he stood for like a second and i undid him. yesterday i tried to work with him on it, now it was a lil better i brought him in the barn and had a shank on him, i had to shank him a few times and yell at him, but he had a few good moments where he put his head down and let me rub him, but he kept trying to inch out of the barn. I dont want to have to shank him so much because honestly i just think its making him irritated and nervous rather than fixing the issue. so my question to all of you is what can i do to make him understand and actually get what im trying to get him to do? without having to shank the hell out of his face. hes an awesome horse undersaddle so i want him to be the same on the ground. cause i like him a lot and want to be able to enjoy him and spend quality time grooming him and all. thank you!

Apr. 28, 2010, 09:37 PM
Can you put cross ties in his stall to begin with? Then if he backs up he will hit a wall. There was a horse at the barn who pulled back and flipped over. They started him back with cross ties in his stall until he got used to them again. Then gradually got him into other cross tie areas - at first with a solid wall behind him as he usually backed up and then freaked when he got to the end of the cross ties and would flip over. With the wall behind him, he would hit the wall and go forward again. Took some time but seemed to work with him.

Apr. 28, 2010, 10:00 PM
Is this horse off the track? My understanding is that most race horses are not cross tied - they're straight tied - so he's going to be very confused. He's not being bad - he's scared. Take your energy level down a whole lot, and his will come down too.

I learned this from watching a very wise, good groom at a h/j barn when TBs were still in fashion at BNTs. First, if possible, cross tie in an enclosed area - grooming stall, stall, whatever. This way he feels less inclined to do the sit down thing.(If open space is all that's available, this still works) Second, connect the cross ties to each other. Third, lead horsey up to cross ties, put lead rope loose over the ties in the center where you want him to stand. Now start petting, feeding treats, baby talk, grooming. When he freaks out and tries to get loose, no big deal. He can safely run backwards, you go with him, not yanking, but "whoa" ing and he'll calm down, lead back up and
repeat. Eventually, they get it that it's not a big deal and they're safe. He's four, he may be playing games, testing, but it still works given enough time.

Since they're "not really" tied, make sure you have all your tack/gear ready before you start.

Fourth, you "quick release tie" the lead to the cross ties, eventully tieing horse to cross ties, problem solved.

Don't get into a fight with a young TB about this or you'll end up taking it to the saddle. Ground manners for race horses are different than ground manners for riding horses - just watch Zenyatta in her post parades:). And all TBs think they're race horses. Be patient and he'll be fine. Do make sure whatever you decide to do that you and the other leasor/owner handle him with the same "rules". Consistency really helps.

For the stall walking, just sounds like he's full of rocket fuel - more turnout, work, and a good neighbor horse.

Don't get discouraged and don't get mad. He's trying to learn "human".

Apr. 28, 2010, 10:10 PM
Does he HAVE to be cross-tied? Does he straight tie? If he does, I'd just put a ring on a solid point in his stall and head tie him in there instead.

My horse hates cross ties, and as he's headshy, if he gets scared, he'll pull back, half rear and sit down, etc, and it just panics him more. Head tied (always with a release knot!), at most he'll pull back, hit the end of the rope, and then just stand like it never happened. Usually he just does his ostrich impression and puts his head inside his stall (I tie him in the aisle) and pretend he doesn't see the scary whatever and never pulls back at all.

Apr. 28, 2010, 10:19 PM
The "pretending to cross-tie" exercise is very clever! Never heard of that!

I agree with another poster who also said to "keep the energy level down". With such a young horse, and one who may have no idea what the rules are or how things work (as opposed to being a 20 year old freight train type), you can use the halter to correct him back without yelling or getting excited. A quiet "uh-uh" and stepping him back into position (with the chain or whatever) will get the idea across. Just keep repeating calmly - you can be immediate yet calm - and he won't add "ohmigod she's freaking at me!" to his already confused brain.

Apr. 28, 2010, 10:46 PM
well, I found out the hard way my 17hh OTTB wouldn't cross tie...after a few broken halters . It was quite amazing to see him summersault backwards and Not get injured:eek::eek: I've had him for 5 years now and after we retrained him to cross tie, I have had zero problems. This is what we did (i hope I can explain it ok, it's fairly simple though).

My trainer had me work him in the arena in a basic rope halter with a couple natural horsemanship excercises. basically the most important one is when the horse starts to pull back, you don't release the pressure (or pull back) but the horse learns to release the pressure himself when he steps forward. And some other excercises to get trust and ground manners.

From there, when we started to put the horse back in the cross ties, I put the rope halter with lead rope under the regular halter hooked to the cross ties. The first couple times my trainer just stood there like she wasn't paying attention to him, but was holding the lead rope (fairly short so he'd hit it before putting pressure on the cross-ties) as I started to groom and tack up. every time he started to pull back, he would actually run into the pressure of the rope halter first. I just kept a warey eye on him while grooming should he get into trouble, but he pretty much didn't like the pressure of the halter and would step forward to release the pressure. the entire time my trainer stayed low key, like she was just standing there talking to me while I was working.

it took about 4-5 days of me grooming with someone holding the lead to the rope halter to stop the pulling. i then graduated up to just letting the lead rope dangle or hold the lead as i groomed and take hold if I needed. I did that for another week as a just in case, and then finally didn't use the rope halter.

the process was low key, and it worked. I've had him for 5 years and he just chills in the cross ties now. No problem.

hope that is helpful.

Apr. 28, 2010, 10:52 PM
I sort of do what bigbaytb said when I'm working with a horse I don't know well - like my new guy. I think he probably cross ties, and so far he hasn't done anything funny, but I haven't had him very long, so I keep his rope halter on with the lead rope draped over his neck where I can reach it in case he gets to moving around too much - I can correct him with that (which he knows all about from being started with western-style groundwork) before anything gets too exciting. So far I haven't needed to.

Apr. 28, 2010, 11:57 PM
I used to ride an OTTB with the same issue; she'd rear and pull back while cross tied until she was free. I started by clipping the lead to one side of her halter and tugging, then once she was ok with that, I applied steady pressure. When she was comfortable with that, I did the same on the other side. When she was good on both sides separately, I took two lead ropes and hooked one to each side. I gently tugged then applied steady pressure to both sides. For her, it was the pressure on both sides that bothered her initially but doing the separate sides helped a lot. After that I loosely tied her on both sides and slowly increased the tension. By the end of all this(only a week!), she crosstied like a pro and didn't even think of pulling back. When her owner came to watch me ride one day, she was pleasantly surprised to see her horse standing quietly while crosstied! Good luck!

Apr. 29, 2010, 06:25 AM
Have you considered leasing something else? I'm not sure I'd pay anything for a 4yo horse that needs a controller halter and doesn't crosstie. It's more like you're paying someone for the privlage of training their baby horse.

Apr. 29, 2010, 07:02 AM
Go to Toklat.com and get a couple Blocker Tie rings. They work on the concept that a horse does not like to be trapped, and will release without letting him loose. Once the horse realizes he is not trapped he will quit pulling and you have a horse that will tie! Cross ties are really confusing to some horses for some reason.

It worked wonders for me and all my cross ties and ties are Blocker now. You never know when a young horse will blow up and this will prevent flips and broken gear!

A very cheap solution that does the training for you.

Apr. 29, 2010, 07:24 AM
Have you considered leasing something else? I'm not sure I'd pay anything for a 4yo horse that needs a controller halter and doesn't crosstie. It's more like you're paying someone for the privlage of training their baby horse.

She said that he is an awesome horse undersaddle.
I don't see the problem of working through a few ground manner issues if she enjoys the horse otherwise.
I would assume that she knew what she was getting into since any 4 year old is still a baby and will require training somewhere, whether it be ground manners, loading, lead changes, going on the bit etc.... Most 4 years olds I know still need more miles and consistancy to become a good solid made horse.

Apr. 29, 2010, 08:57 AM
IMHO I would not risk 'trying' to make him cross tie. I am only saying this because someone tried to Xtie one of our horses and he flipped over on the ties. Not once but 2X's.

He ground ties perfectly. Why not teach a ground tie?

Come Shine
Apr. 29, 2010, 01:10 PM
Have you considered leasing something else? I'm not sure I'd pay anything for a 4yo horse that needs a controller halter and doesn't crosstie. It's more like you're paying someone for the privlage of training their baby horse.

As the owner of a horse that does not cross-tie, I would be very upset if someone part-boarding my horse took it upon themselves to 'teach' my horse this skill - especially anything that involved shanking the hell out of his face.

Please make sure to discuss any 'training' with the owner prior to undertaking it.

Apr. 29, 2010, 01:16 PM
With my OTTB, who was seven and had been racing five years, I didn't know if he'd ever been cross-tied or not, so I started by just clipping one tie to the bottom of his halter, keeping the lead on, and letting him stand like that. It got him used to standing in the aisle to be groomed, without the sensation of being clipped from both sides.

Now, in my case, Lucky obviously thought I was insane, and after a week I decided to see what he'd do if I just cross-tied him. He was fine, and has been since, but afaik he's never had anythign scary happen to him or learned to freak out. I'd ask the owner if they've tried teaching him to crosstie before and find out how much of a problem this has been and if there's something in his background that REALLY freaked him out, beyond just having poor ground manners.

Apr. 29, 2010, 02:16 PM
Had an ottb who would cross tie just fine, even in the isle, for 3 years, until one day he was freaked out by something and suddenly didn't. There is a difference between being naughty and panic.

I really suggest you give this or the blocker a try: http://www.smarttieproducts.com/

Especially if it is not your horse!

Apr. 29, 2010, 04:55 PM
I doubt very much he is awesome under saddle because he is a 4yo TB possibly OTTB?

He's far to young to be worth someone spending the money to learn off of him. If it's a free lease and she's putting miles on him and doesn't mind the project and not getting paid because it's something to do that's awesome.

If an adult is taking advantage of a horse crazy kid who is paying to ride somebody's baby horse that appears to have horrible ground manners then that is not right. Judging by the post I believe the OP is a young adult.

Summit Springs Farm
Apr. 29, 2010, 06:01 PM
I did not read the other posts. You can get a stud chain, put it across his nose and a crop.

First lead him anywhere and ask him to stop, if he doesn't then yank the chain, when he stops tell him good boy, do this several places hopefully he will not always be good so that it gives you the opportunity to correct him.

Then eventually you want to take him to the cross ties and correct him with the crop, if he does anything he shouldn't.
Don't be sweet, be firm. he'll get it, he's a TB! he's smart!

Apr. 29, 2010, 07:48 PM
It's about teaching a horse to come off the pressure. Work on that when you're leading to start. When you ask him to come forward, he should jump forward. If not, he gets firmly backed up, a moment to think about it, and then asked to come forward again. If you get stuck, try doing the exercise on a circle (bend in their body always helps).

My filly didn't cross tie when I brought her out of the field. I used loosely tied lead ropes for almost a year and wouldn't leave her alone. I also only used leather halters if I'm tying (which were useful when the BO's dogs ran under her, she pulled back and broke her halter). I'd rather have a broken leather halter than a broken horse!

If I were a horse and someone tried to cross tie me, I'd probably freak out too. Stuff attached to my head, can't go forward or back. Yikes!

Apr. 30, 2010, 09:45 PM
Well thank you everyone for the advice. Just wanted to address some of the things said. Yes i did know what i was getting into when I decided to lease him. He was actually offered to me for Free but i cant afford full board right now, so my trainer took him and im half leasing him with another girl. So for all intensive purposes he is mine because i pay his bills and im riding and handling him. And to the person who was talking about me shanking him and asking the owner about it, she does it worse than i do! im being very conservative with the way i do it. You all have good ideas and most would be awesome if he actually would stand in the barn and not move, but he is constantly trying to walk out. we dont have a long aisleway its just a lil barn and the crossties are right by the doors. Today i tied him in his stall and all he did was move back anf forth and then start to rear, he didnt pull back on the tie like he was going to break it, was kind of like he was throwing a temper tantrum cause he couldnt do what he wanted to do. We have been handling him with a chain over his nose, and after i tied him in the stall my trainer held him in the aisleway and i tacked up, he kept trying to inch forward so we made him back up everytime he took a step forward, he eventually stood for a couple minutes, so we are slowly making progress with him at least standing. guess all of this will just come in time with work and patience. And to the person who said she doubt he was awesome undersaddle.....well he is! and thats the only reason i am putting up with the bad ground manners. He dosnt have any bad manners undersaddle, at all! He is very green, like he wont always be straight and in circles hell drop his shoulder or bulge out and he dosnt go on the bit or anything yet. but hes not quick or spooky, walks on the buckle, goes out on walks with me alone and perfectly fine! perfect gentleman. as a matter of fact as soon as we put all his tack on he stands like a champ! i might buy those tie blockers and try them out, i just wish i knew what makes him so scared or nervous about them. well try a few things and just keep reenforcing making him stand, if he just stood still and ground tied that would be plenty for me. just want to be able to groom him and tack him up with out chasing him around a stall or having him sway back and forth while im holding him. thanks again for the advice =)