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  1. #1
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    Default Horse Doesn't Crosstie - Sorry, long

    I bought a 4 yr old TB gelding last week that had been on the track as a 2 yr old, didn't cut it, out to pasture for a bit & than picked up by the nice lady I bought him from who put wtc on him.

    She told me right off the bat that he didn't crosstie (she tacked him up in his stall) but she was a fairly timid person so I thought she was being overprotective

    Well, she wasn't. First time I crosstied him, he was fine...there were other horses in the barn. Second time, I went down to our other barn where we were alone & he reared 3 times, hit his head on the ceiling and went down. Note he didn't back up & panic b/c of the tension...he just started rearing.

    In general, this horse does not have separation anxiety; he comes away from the herd fine and is fine to ride on his own but he is definitely nervous in the aisleway for whatever reason.

    Since he did that, I have been putting him in the aisleway where the crossties are and ground tying him (which he does fairly well). After I ride (he is lovely, lovely to ride) and he is more relaxed, I will clip one tie to him.

    This is the thing...he MUST learn to crosstie. He is a project so eventually when he moves on to a new home, I don't want to have to say "Oh by the way, he doesn't crosstie"...not a good selling feature.

    I have 2 options as I see it and since I haven't really dealt with this issue before, I need advice.

    Option 1 - Stuff his face with treats until he learns to relax and anticipate being in the aisle as a good thing & slowly reintroduce the ties.

    Option 2 - Buy a nylon rope & tie him to a tree

    As you can see, not a huge fan of Option 2 BUT I've known many experienced (albeit not in my discipline) horsepeople that stand by this method.

    These are my issues...firstly, though it appears the whole crosstie aversion is a learned behaviour, he does seem nervous to me. In other words, I don't think he is just being an idiot.

    Secondly, maybe I am a bit of a breed snob but I have my doubts that the tree tie thing will work on a TB. The people that typically use this method are dealing with stock breeds like QH's that seem to have, in general, less "flight" if you will. I've heard people say a horse is a horse & what works on one breed will work on another but I don't know if I buy into that.

    Basically, with option 2, I am nervous that this horse will lose his mind completely and end up killing himself. Don't know if he's that type as I've only owned him for a week but don't really want to find out either.

    Thoughts?

    P.S. Just an insight into his personality...every once in a while he would just stop while I was leading him (did it at the other place as well). At first I didn't really pay any attention to it but he did it to me the other day when I was trying to lead him into the barn and even took a few steps back so I backed him up about 30 feet. Freaked him out a little and he walked like a lamb into the barn after that. He does seem to respect leadership.
    \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River



  2. #2
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    Jun. 14, 2006
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    Sounds to me like he never really learned to give to pressure. I don't think tying him to a tree will result in good things just yet either.

    Not til he can at least lead and move when you apply pressure.

    I also don't think that it's a breed thing. (though you're not the only one to make such statements). I've handled plenty of TB's that tie to a post, cross tie and ground tie. It's training. End of story. I think a lot of PEOPLE who tend to have TB's are too "careful" and they create the problem. But that's just MHO.

    If I were in your shoes, I would work in hand--almost like showmanship type stuff. He needs to give to pressure. Once he gives to pressure, THEN I would consider the blocker tie ring before just tying him fast to a post because it has a quicker release should you get in trouble. A horse who has successfully broken out of a tied situation seems to have a propensity to try it again.

    Another way to practice would be to tie him (short) in his stall after your rides for a few minutes. In his stall, he's less likely to be able to move far enough back to flip over/pull away.

    One last trick since you mentioned that he seems rather anxious anyway is the "head down" cue when you place pressure on the poll. This can be a good tool to have in your tool box if you ever have an injured horse, an accident, some time when you need to get the horse calm and quiet. The fact that it's a John Lyons term turns off a lot of people. But it's not a copyrighted thing...it's an old technique and a useful one that once taught, is kind of like a half halt from the ground.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  3. #3
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    Oh, the "tree thing" does work (on most anyway) when done PROPERLY but it is not going to do anything for the behavior in crossties. A single rope right in front of them tied to a fixed object is just not the same thing as standing with ropes on either side out of view. The single rope creates pressure the horse can learn they must give to, the two ropes don't do that and can confuse them. But I would not go tie one to a tree anyway anymore...there are better ways.

    The few I have seen with crosstie problems have had bad experiences plus a lack of, lets say, "happy time" in the cross ties. The only time they get in them is for farrier and vet, they get scared, maybe somebody yells at them and busts them one, they don't realize they are tied and scare themselves or they sit back and slip/go up and crack their heads on the light fixture. It's a mess.

    One example where conditioned response to them is fear and that can be changed. This is one case where clicker training may prove the best way to go. Need to be careful you do not get them dependent on human presence and treats though...you can create a monster worse then one that won't tolerate the cross ties if you create one that will not stay still unless treats are produced. That will drive anybody nuts in a boarding situation.

    Good luck...and you are right that when selling one that will probably go to a boarding barn environment, it's a PITA if they won't cross tie.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  4. #4
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    As corny as the average hunter person thinks John Lyons/natural horsemanship type stuff is, that's what you really need to look into.

    There are perfectly sane horses that have broken their necks from being tied to trees and other unmoveable objects. I wouldn't do it.

    I had one that wouldn't crosstie (also off the track) and it turned out that he just needed a wall behind him. Can't explain it but like yours, he wouldn't even take steps back and freak out on the ties. He'd literally just toss his head up and break them - almost like 'just for the hell of it'. I spent months single tying him with a bungee (these tend to scare people too) tie system in his stall that I made myself. Then, moved to the crossties with a wall behind.

    "If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me



  5. #5
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    Default

    It has always been my understanding that racehorses do not learn to crosstie. Assuming this is correct, it seems you would be dealing with a horse that simply has no clue about standing on crossties. I have never had to teach an OTTB to crosstie, so I can't really help you there. I just wanted to note that he was probably never crosstied until he started his new career.



  6. #6
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    Does he single tie? If he's off the track they all get tied both in their stall as well as being tied to the hot walker. We do alot of OTTB guys that come straight from the track. It does take a bit of time but they have all gotten comfortable in the cross ties. All our cross ties though are in a barn with a large building with around a 18-20 foot ceiling so no way heads are getting wacked! Also all our cross ties have walls behind them so they don't learn to sit back. We are not into pampering though so they all just go straight in and get done up. They are in leather halters so if need be something breaks with the quick release and they will generally hit them once or twice and freak out and then be cool as cucumbers in there. One thing is though they aren't used to you walking in front of them out of the ties. We have had a few that you could approach from the front but if you were leaving them had to duck out the side of the cross tied so they don't try to follow you. I would suggest getting him in an area where he can't hit his head and let him work it out a bit. The rearing sounds like he was anxious even if he wasn't displaying outward signs.



  7. #7
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    Dec. 22, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by horselesswonder View Post
    It has always been my understanding that racehorses do not learn to crosstie. Assuming this is correct, it seems you would be dealing with a horse that simply has no clue about standing on crossties. I have never had to teach an OTTB to crosstie, so I can't really help you there. I just wanted to note that he was probably never crosstied until he started his new career.
    This is definitely true, racehorses are not taught to cross tie. There are a couple older still racing TBs that I exercise when they winter at my barn and they cross tie like old pros, but this is not always the case. My BO just brought a horse home from the track this past winter, and the filly definitely had no idea what cross ties were. She uses a blocker tie (I think that's what it is) on one side and then just a lead rope slip knotted to the stall on the other side. Basically, if the horse freaks you've got the slip knot you can pull to release the pressure and the blocker tie will allow some release of the pressure so the horse learns not to panic when the back up and hit pressure. Seems to have worked really well. I do think most racehorses are used to being tied in stalls w/lead ropes at times.

    That being said, when you transition to regular cross ties, I always like to have the top of the cross tie attached to the wall or wherever with bailing twine. Working with polo ponies for a couple years who broke cross ties on a daily basis, this is what worked best and broke the quickest and easiest! I know of a beautiful horse that basically can no longer be ridden due to completely separating all the muscles in his neck when he freaked out on cross ties that didn't have a quick release and he was wearing a plain nylon halter that didn't break, such a shame.



  8. #8
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    Aug. 13, 2008
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    Default

    I trained an OTTB with the same problem last year. I broke her of it in a week. My horse single tied so I tied her up but clipped the tying rope to one side of the halter and another rope, that I would hold, to the other. I got her used to having pressure on both sides of her face, by gently tugging on one rope then the other. One she was comfortable with that, I put her in a loose cross-tie, did the tug thing again, and gradually took up the slack on each side. When she stood fine with the regular length ties attached, I walked around the barn corner and acted like I left, but still watched her. At first, she was very impatient and I could only leave her for a minute, but I kept working with her and by the end of the week, she tied perfectly and I could leave her there as long as I wanted. Your horse might take longer than a week, but give it a try! Good luck!



  9. #9
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by horselesswonder View Post
    It has always been my understanding that racehorses do not learn to crosstie. Assuming this is correct, it seems you would be dealing with a horse that simply has no clue about standing on crossties. I have never had to teach an OTTB to crosstie, so I can't really help you there. I just wanted to note that he was probably never crosstied until he started his new career.
    Gotta say, I just got an OTTB six days ago and he crossties and single ties. The person I bought him from made a specific point of telling me he did so, although I realize this is not the norm.

    "If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me



  10. #10
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    Jul. 21, 2006
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    I've taught dozens of horses (weanlings through 7 year olds) to cross tie.

    You need tie rings (http://www.jeffersequine.com/ssc/pro...QUU9G67FK660A1 search for "tie ring", it's on page 2. Link won't work ) high up where you want to attach the crossties. Plain screw eyes aren't big enough. You need NON SLIP FOOTING. If they slip, they will panic even more. Be careful about mats, I've seen horses' feet slip UNDER the mats when they pull back. You need a place where the horse can't rear and hit his head, and a back wall behind him is helpful, but not necessary. If the horse single ties, skip to step #2.

    1) Snap 2 long leads to both sides of the halter where the crossties attach, run the leads through the tie rings, and hold the ends. If he freaks, simply pull and release on the leads, you can let go if necessary. Continue grooming, etc. as usual.

    2) Snap one long lead to the halter where the crosstie would attach, run it through the tie ring, and hold the end. Snap the regular crosstie to the other side. If he freaks, you can pull and release the lead so he doesn't feel "trapped", and you can let go if he gets really bad. Most importantly, do NOT worry about him freaking out. The more tense and nervous you are, the more he will wonder why you are tense and nervous. A long lead is helpful so that you can groom while you hold the lead.

    Eventually you will be able to slip knot the lead around the tie ring and walk away. Only walk away short (within 2-3 steps) distances at first, so he gets used to standing alone.

    BAILING TWINE DOES NOT BREAK. I had a horse pull a board off of the wall when I attached bailing twine to the crosstie. Bailing twine was still intact, board was hanging from crosstie attached to horse's face. Scary. IMHO I'd rather them learn that they CAN'T break the crossties (as long as they are well supervised in case something really bad happens). I knew horses that would break them because they could. No freaking out, just pulling back till they broke, then out the barn to eat grass on the lawn. If you DO want the crossties to break, use zip ties (http://www.curbly.com/uploads/photos...ties_large.jpg), they will break every time.

    Wow that was long, haha. It may take a while to get to the point where you can attach both crossties, but be patient and calm, and they will figure it out.
    In loving memory of my precious Gwendolyn; you will always be with me, in my heart. I love you.



  11. #11
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    Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

    Just to clarify...this horse has been off the track for 2 years now and was definitely crosstied at some point as he knew, without feeling the tension, that he was in them. It would be much better if it were simply an inexperience thing but I bet dollars to donuts he had a bad experience somewhere along the line.

    Anyway, I got some good ideas about what to try so thanks again!
    \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River



  12. #12
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    Mar. 8, 2007
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    My first instinct is typical of the trainer NOT to listen to the prior owner who tells you UP front the horse does NOT cross tie. Clearly the lady who owned him "got it" and you choose to ignore what she said. Reason one why I don't send horses out because no one freaken listens! But hey, since you own it if it rears up and kills itself in the barn its your loss.

    Next, a horse does NOT need to crosstie. At horse shows they almost never tie a horse at the washrack of getting tacked up anyway. A horse should learn how to ground tie because in my mind that horse is more valuable then one that does not.

    If you are hell bent on selling the horse with a confirmed crosstie the logical thing to do is to use yarn on the halter as it breaks if he leans back or goes up and to be sure something is directly behind him to when he does back up he senses what is behind him, much like a horse that ties to trailer.

    Yes, the tree thing works at times but you are right, with a TB you will certainly loose his cookies and what's the point? Just to win the crosstie war? Now you will have a freak on your hands that hates you for the tree war.

    Horses sell fine if you tell people he does not like crossties. It is better than him hurting himself and becoming useless



  13. #13
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    Some horses don't tie or cross tie. If someone told me their horse didn't cross tie I would not cross tie it, period. I really am not sure why you did it and thought something else would happen?

    Personally, I'd not worry about it.. I'd teach the horse to ground tie and sell it with it written in the contract that the horse does not cross tie.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  14. #14
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    Option 1 (stuff with treats) worked well for me. But my horse didn't have an aversion to cross ties, she just hadn't been cross tied before. Took about a week. Now she cross ties like a champ.

    I'd probably approach it like you said you're doing, stand with one side attached and then work up to the other side. I did that with my mare, and stood off to the side and held up the lead rope on the side she wasn't attached to, just to get her used to it without being restricted.



  15. #15
    tb_owner Guest

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    My horse won't cross tie unless there is a wall behind him. He gets paranoid and freaks out if something comes up behind him in a long barn aisle. He thinks stuff is going to sneak up on him. On the wash stall, he will stand for hours without a problem.

    My old lease would not stand on cross ties either, but I think she just broke them for fun. She would stand find and then she would slowly back up and if you reached to unhook her before she broke the cross ties, she would accelerate faster and break them.


    They are both OTTB



  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by donkeyman View Post
    Next, a horse does NOT need to crosstie. At horse shows they almost never tie a horse at the washrack of getting tacked up anyway. A horse should learn how to ground tie because in my mind that horse is more valuable then one that does not.
    I'm not trying to be snarky, but that is ABSOLUTELY NOT true.

    EVERY barn I've groomed or ridden at (including my own clients' horses) has used crossties at the horseshows. Also, the horses stand for an hour or more in the crossties to dry after they are bathed.

    Now, I'm not saying that a horse HAS to crosstie, but, if it is a sale horse (as stated in the OP), it is a MAJOR pain if it doesn't. I'm glad that the OP is at least trying to teach the horse to crosstie rather than sending it on down the road for someone else to deal with. Too many horses are bought and sold with stupid little quirks because no one takes the time to address them.

    JMHO
    In loving memory of my precious Gwendolyn; you will always be with me, in my heart. I love you.



  17. #17
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    My OTTB learned that he could break out of the crossties So now we don't ever really crosstie him because he usually tries to get away. Especially since our wash racks are very intimidating (low ceiling and he is very big and already is claustrophobic lol). It can be a PITA and I love my other guy who will stand in crossties for hours after riding if I needed him too (though the longest he's ever had to stand is about an hour). It makes dealing with his various boo-boos and such so much easier I might consider passing on a horse that does not crosstie but if it was a nice horse who could ground tie or just tie the lead rope in a quick release knot I would consider it.



  18. #18
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    I'd be using leather halters and head bumpers (shipping hat).
    P.S. Someone here has a website with very specific information on OTTBs, what they are and arent trained to do, and what to expect. You might find it useful. Someone else post the site please?



  19. #19
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    I've worked with dozens of ottb's and never had one that wouldn't tie. I have had, however, a quiet kids horse who would freak in the ties every so often, though, so he ground-tied.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anyplace Farm View Post
    As corny as the average hunter person thinks John Lyons/natural horsemanship type stuff is, that's what you really need to look into.

    There are perfectly sane horses that have broken their necks from being tied to trees and other unmoveable objects. I wouldn't do it.

    I had one that wouldn't crosstie (also off the track) and it turned out that he just needed a wall behind him. Can't explain it but like yours, he wouldn't even take steps back and freak out on the ties. He'd literally just toss his head up and break them - almost like 'just for the hell of it'. I spent months single tying him with a bungee (these tend to scare people too) tie system in his stall that I made myself. Then, moved to the crossties with a wall behind.
    I have to agree the tree thing sounds bad in general. I have had all types of horses and in my experience the TB reacts to things the most violently, in a dangerous sense (not knocking the TB just saying you need to handle them differently than a WB or stock horse). Breaking a neck would of course be terrible, but so would rope burns, a broken wither and a host of other things you don't want on a resale project. How long were you planning on keeping him? A horse that ground ties perfectly sounds like he could be trained to stand on cross ties eventually with treats and positive reinforcement. I have a young TB now and the wall behind the cross ties or even close the barn door behind them makes a world of difference. Good luck!



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