Spin-off thread: How do *YOU* teach your yearlings to tie?
There seem to be an awful lot of folks that think tying yearlings is a necessity. I'm wondering how you actually go about it? I've only met one yearling that I would actually feel comfortable with really tying and leaving. The rest, well, they might hang out in the crossties while groomed or stand with the rope thrown across a tie bar while attended but not much more. How "tie-broke" are your yearlings (really!) and how did you get them to that point???
I tie my horses from the time they are babies. With the babies I loop the lead rope thru a tie ring and brush them, letting them hit the end of the rope themselves. If they FREAK out I can let go, but they learn, I then progress to tying them (with a quick release knot or snap) while grooming and eventually (once they are weaned) they tie in the stall for short periods of time. If they learn from the time they are babies in this way, it is simply no big deal, just part of life. I expect ALL of my horses to tie. I introduce crosstying later on, as late yearlings or two year olds, the babies don't seem to understand the crosstying as well plus with the height they are and the height of the cross ties it just doesn't work well.
I do almost exactly what shawnee does. We halter our foals from day one and teach them to lead and tie right away. By the time they are two weeks old, they are loading on both ramp and step up trailers by themselves. Saves a lot of work later.
Very similar to shawnee acres....
I find that doing it like this from almost day one..is so easy and a for me safety issue.
When I was much much younger I worked with all sorts of horses with bad habits....and have seen really bad injuries to horses and people from horses not understanding that being tied is part of life.
"Halter pulling" is bad manners, plain and simple, and can be prevented with good education early on.
I don't deal with horses younger than 1 yr old... but others I tie to the leather spur strap that can break with loaded pressure. Or I attach a leather spur strap in-between a halter and a lead rope that it can brake and leave a young horse still haltered.
I also use Tie Rings.
I try to tie to the places that are higher than eye level not to trigger jerk/panic effect. I hang the hay bag to keep them busy and to explain that this is their "fav treat-time". Preferably in the stall first, then in the wash rack, then next to the trailer.
It's upmost importance to me that a horse will not stress their poll, neck, back and will not end up pulling, sitting on his tail resulting in the possible injuries.
I would rather let the horse brake easy free (thus a leather spur strap) than pulling strong and sitting on its rear end. It's just not worth it to me...
We also teach to tie when they are younger, not as strong and not as able to hurt themselves as a result. We wait until about 2-3 months old and then introduce them to it. We snake it through the bars of the stall so we can give them a little if they really get truly scared. Of course they are going to panic or freak a little but that is part of the learning process (they are flight animals obviously and so forth). I do not want them breaking free as that teaches the bad halter breaking habit and that being tied means sometimes they can get out of it! I want them to to know they need to stay there and there is no choice. We do not leave them alone though. I have an older gelding who I've had since 4 years old who just does not tie. He freaks hard every time and he cannot get used to it at all, so I have not tied him in 13 years. Not worth him hurting himself for sure.
We have not had a problem or injury, knock on wood, and as others said, it's much easier when they realize it's a no-big-deal part of life as a baby. You'll find they lead and just respect you better when they have learned that fighting against the pressure doesn't get them anywhere!
I hold the lead rope of the wee foals and let them meet the pressure at the end of the rope. Pretty much from then on, they don't fight it. I keep increasing how firmly they are tied as they get older and their necks get stronger.
The last step I learned from a quasi-NH trainer -- when they are 2 or 3 I will tie to a nice high overhead ring in the arena where they have lots of room to move in a big arc. Then I will "flag" the horse -- encourage him to move. If I've really done my job, the horse will turn back as soon as he feels pressure on the halter. More frequently the horse does need to sit back on it once or twice. I have one horse that had to test it for about a half hour! But it will NOT break, they are not in any danger, and they will learn from that.
THEN I consider them tie-trained, though I do train some more for patience so they learn not to be pawing while tied -- which I find as obnoxious as pulling.
So to answer your actual question, as a yearling I expect my horses to stand quietly while tied but I will not leave the horse unattended or put him in a position to get into trouble.
Arrange whatever pieces come your way. - Virginia Woolf
Did you know that if you say the word "GULLIBLE" really softly, it sounds like "ORANGES"?
I never leave mine alone either but standing to be cross tied is a necessity for me, as is standing tied in a trailer ( butt bar up). I personally do not tie mine to the outside of a trailer but I primarily work with weanlings and other young horses. From a week after birth, they "lead", they stand for the farrier with me holding them and they load. I would not tie a weanling obviously to be trailers but no way I would trailer 2 yearlings free. That is just me... I have seen horses break out the escape door and land on the highway.
So to answer your actual question, as a yearling I expect my horses to stand quietly while tied but I will not leave the horse unattended or put him in a position to get into trouble.
I tend to wait until they are weanlings and have had a lot of handling sans mare as I feel they pay more attention to me at that point. I want them to be leading and to know to step forward to release the pressure and to move over or forward when I ask them to.
I have a long lead rope, a (gasp) NH type lead that is longer than a regular lead rope. I loop it around a bar of the of the stall and continue holding onto the end. It gives me more length if it is necessary, I can play it out a bit if I have to. Then I groom, when foal applies pressure to the rope I ask him to step forward with a cluck and a push on the hindquarters. Praise when he does and puts some slack in the lead. I do this for quite a while, until I am confident the colt knows Feel Pressure=Step Forward. Once I see him doing this on his own I will do a quick release and groom, monitoring the knot so that I know I can quickly release if necessary. By the point in time that I am actually tying I use a regular lead rope so I don't have a lot of extra rope.
I continue to praise everytime young horse releases pressure and creates slack in the tie. It is so ingrained I find myself doing it with mature horses too.
I don't want there to be a struggle, but I also don't want them to figure out that halters or leads break.
So far so good. All of my horses tie and cross tie and no one has ever had a major melt down.
However, I still don't leave horses (of any age) tied and unattended. I personally don't feel that is necessary or a good idea. If I participated in disciplines where my horses had to spend some time tied to trailers I might do things differently, but they don't and my current system works for me.
While I'm not qualified to answer the age question, I do want to comment. After dealing with a dangerous situation (tied for farrier--freaked out), I have changed my mind on tie training. I used to tie with a break away, but inadverdantly during a panic moment, created a halter breaker, who when having a legitimate panic, expected the halter to break. A 1200 lb horse running for the highway is BAD!
It took a month to get him to cross tie/tie again, but I had to be there or he would just have a melt down. Got better with time.
The problem is now the horse tries harder than normal to break a halter--if that makes sense. He wasn't always being naughty either, he was really freaking out and when the halter wouldn't break he would go up, and I'm sure would have flipped right over if I had let it happen--it's like his brain quit working. I eventually used a snap-it ring (designed to give a bit if horse pulls back). He was worth too much as a riding horse to risk breaking his neck.
After watching different trainers work with alll types, I am now a believer in the overhead tie-line method and desensitizing when on a high line. I would also favor teaching a horse to tie while tied to a inner-tire tube. While I'm still open to new ideas, I think that, combined with good footing, is the safest. I also think that a horse isn't truly trained to tie until you can show it will stay there yeilding to the rope and halter when something freaks it out.
Teaching a baby/yearling I would do it gradually like Shawnee.
Sorry if that was soapbox-ish. It takes soooo much time and work to deal with a horse once it has a bad incident though.
I start my process when they're really young babies. It begins with halter training and the very basics with learning to give to pressure. When they learn to lead they might pull a bit on the lead the first few days and they learn there they can't get away. These basics they never forget. From there, they are ponied with mommy, and again, they might pull a bit but learn they can't get away and besides they come forward to the *light* pressure because mommy is walking away from them and they must catch up. From there on, mom is progressively used as the "tie ring" and they are ponied here, there, and everywhere. From there, once they're weaned, I will loop the leadrope through a tie ring a couple times with the other end attached to my hand so they get used to the idea of standing in front of a wall while I'm grooming. As I gain confidence that the youngster has learned this concept, I will perform the quick release knot, but still keep the end of the rope attached to my hand that I can quickly unzip the knot in an instant should there be a concern...they might pull a bit but won't get away and therein is The Concept I want soundly instilled into any horse, especially a youngster.
I also additionally teach a baby to cope with a dragging lead and how to deal with stepping on his own lead. I use a special lead for this - a really big fat braided one that is quite stiff. This particular rope doesn't easily form a loop, and cannot be used to tie as it won't form a knot, thus it cannot wrap around the foal's legs, and on top of that, it's not very long (if they're standing with their head up, the lead end has maybe 6-8 inches on the ground) and really this rope only gets stepped on when they lower their head to graze. They step on their rope, feel the pressure, and over time learn to work out how to fix this little dilemma, and pretty soon, they're calmly just trying to figure out what front hoof is causing the problem. I've never had a foal panic because there has been a progression of experiences leading up to this one.
All of these preparatory experiences pay off in spades when it comes time to actually tying a youngster whether in front of a wall, in cross-ties in a groom stall, or in the horse trailer.
When I tie a weanling or yearling, I mean really tie them, I have a rubberized band that is 2000 pound break strength (plenty for a baby) to which the rope is actually attached because I do fully expect them to pull back because I expect something to spook them sooner or later, and I want them to learn not to get away. The rubber eases some of the strain but yet doesn't break. If I suspect the rubber has been strained in any way, I discard the band and replace with a new one immediately. I use the rubberized band because I don't want any damage to their neck.
Anyway, I have never really had a weanling or yearling or even a 2 year old, that I have trained from the get-go, to pull back just for the sake of pulling back. I have had them pull because something exterior has startled them and for this, I'm always prepared for and am very proactive for. If I see something brewing or something that could potentially brew into something exciting, I tend to just unzip my knot and still hold the rope with my hand while pretending to *ignore* whatever external event is going on, calmly grooming and muttering and yakking nonstop like I always do (reality is, I'm very intently paying attention with all my spidey senses on Code Red). The youngster reads my calmness and learns, Hmmm, Mum doesn't think this is a big deal, okay, it's no big deal.
I also tie all horses at head height or even higher. There is more pressure applied to the neck at the atlantoaxial joint when tied too low. The minimum height should be wither, but it should preferably be higher. I have tied horses at facilities where the ring is at wither height of my horse, but I find some horses tend to get silly and put their head under the rope and then they have an excuse to get claustrophobic. And some smart cookies learn they can get away from being tied if they deliberately put their heads under the ropes. I've watched more than a few bright, sparkly-eyed ponies keep their eye on you whilst putting their heads under the ropes and waiting to see if you proactively untie them because you're afraid they'll pull. I had one devil who when he realized I wouldn't untie when he did this, he would actually then pull... just enough to make the rope taught and threaten to make like he would really go hairy, and further to that when he realized I wouldn't untie, he would try to lay down. Sneaky bugger. A very dangerous game for all concerned, and a snap of the dressage whip across his arse cured him of those antics.
If you do the consistent preparatory ground work, tying to a ring is no different to them than being held in hand by a human. It's a process.
And as my signature says........
Last edited by rodawn; Jul. 27, 2010 at 03:41 PM.
Reason: can't spell worth BEANS today and my spellchecker isn't working. :(
I taught our foal to tie at 3 months and used mom as a teaching tool.......brought mom out to brush and tied.....also brought baby out along side of mom to stand for a brush....I pulled the lead line through the ring and just held onto the end and when the foal backed up and the line went tight we would ask for a step forward...........when tying horses that know how to stand tied I always use The Clip.......and I always tie to something that is head height.......I think this is where most people go wrong they tie to things that are too low.
Mine learned very young while grooming and with constant supervision like ShawneeAcres. One difference though is after weaning they prgress to cross tieing in the grooming stall with supervision and a rope over their backs for an emergency line. By the time they are yearlings, tying is old hat, and as long as I am in the barn to keep an eye on things, they should be able to stand tied indefinitely.
We've even had long yearlings who were assigned straight stalls for overnight and have done just fine. And since the straight stall at our barn doubles as the hay drop, they get used to people climbing up the ladder behind them and dropping bales on their butts (not to injure them of course, but if they're in the way, they get bale bumped). Talk about a good way to desensitise a high strung breed.
"Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it."
Our foals get tied in the stall as soon as they take an interest in mom's feed. We use a bungee trailer tie with a quick release and a break away bailing twine loop. Twice a day, every day, the foal stands tied in the stall during feeding.
Now, at four months, the foal will stand quietly tied to a fence post in sight of her mom as the mare goes back to work.
. I also think that a horse isn't truly trained to tie until you can show it will stay there yeilding to the rope and halter when something freaks it out.
A well known western trainer (not PP) used my yearling for a demonstration session. Someone suggested that the colt should be tied up as a course of his training. The trainer said that he does not tied his young horses until they have a solid foundation and are completely halter broke. That he would not tie this colt (or most others) till he was older and better trained.
So much like T.T. Pumpkn said. I also believe it should not be a test of strength but a respect for the halter and pressure. If that is really learned, then tying should not be any different or a separate thing to learn. I guess it gets to be a chicken and egg discussion as I am sure that tying could be said to help with halter training.
However I personally know of several adult horses that have hung themselves when left tied. I never leave a halter on and would never leave them tied unsupervised for any length of time.
The ones we raised were all taught as babies too. Teach them to release to pressure in general and to lead (which will include releasing to rope pressure obviously), and then start tying them! If you put on a solid foundation and do things correctly, there's (very) little to no fight because they have already learnt to release to pressure and to relax. Makes things SO much easier!!! I hate having to teach a full-grown horse to learn to tie, however same as with babies, if you put on a solid foundation and they have been taught to relax and give to pressure, learning to tie just comes naturally.
I start as weanlings and do as others have said. I loop the rope through a stall bar or ring and when they move back they are encouraged to move forward and pressure is released. Tying is gradual and I haven't had any problems with someone pulling back in panic, they now forward equals release of pressure. I also don't leave them unattended as it's not necessary for things I do with my horses. If it were necessary then I would have to train differently. Like I might leave them to get something out of the tack room but not for an hour or so just because.
As I haven't been working with youngsters as long as many of you I was quite surprised to see how quickly they learned and how easy it could be if done properly and giving the horse a chance.
COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.
"I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.
I do exactly as ShawneeAcres. I always halter when bringing in so foals recognize this as routine. I start tying at around 1-2 months old and in very short spurts only when I am working with them (say 5-10 minutes). I don't do an actual knot, just looping the rope around a bar and holding the end. If a foal should panic, their necks are not strong enough and I think one could do serious damage. I have never had a foal panic from the pressure, especially because I am always there to push them back up to the slack. I couldn't imagine trying to teach a yearling to tie whose never had any pressure/release work done.
Start when they are babies by leading them with a bum rope and progressing to leading from the lead rope. It's pretty simple when you're bigger than them to teach them to yield to the pressure of the rope under their chin (especially if they want to follow their momma).
Next, use things to tie that won't break, like a nylon halter with good hardware and a cotton leadrope with a bullsnap.
Then put them in a really safe environment for tying where they won't really consider pulling back - I like using a stall that they are used to already. Put the rope through the ring, hold the end, and brush them - most foals love scratches so they aren't going anywhere anyway. Correct them when they move around. Continue the "yield to pressure" lessons, getting them to move forward when they feel a tug on the chin.
One day I just tie them up to the ring in the stall and brush away. I will then leave the stall, closing the door, and walk around within eyesight/earshot. They will get a little antsy and move about but usually won't try the rope - and if they do, they can't get into much trouble (if any) and usually figure it out really fast. Increase the time they are tied from 1-5 minutes (what I start with) to 10 minutes etc. I then start tying and doing other chores around them, so I can keep an eye out - e.g. brush another horse or clean tack. That way I can make corrections and salvage a wreck if it's likely to happen.
By the time they are a year old, tying is old hat. I took my 12-month old filly to a horse show last month, aware that I might have to spend the entire time attached to the end of her lead-rope. Not so - I tied her up, hung around for a while, watched her move around and yield to the rope when it got snug. She had a buddy at first, who eventually got tacked up and taken off to warm-up. I had no qualms about spectating within earshot but out of sight for 20-30 minutes at a time.
You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng
Mine are all solid to lead first. I usually halter break at about a week old. I won't tie one until I can pull on the lead rope and they willingly come forward immediately. If that lesson is learned well, they tend come forward when they pull back and hit the end of the lead rope.
Waiting until they are strong enough to break things and get loose is not a good idea. That's a hard lesson to unlearn.
I always single tie to start. I use bits and pieces of what everyone else has mentioned. I tie them with a solid wall behind them so if they do pull back, they hit something. This cuts off an escape route. I have a storage area that's actually a stall cut in half. I tie them on the side. No place to go forward, and no place to go back. They can move around and test the rope, but really have no place to go. Works pretty well.