I worked at a TB breeding farm where no horse was tied EVER. I was given the impression that a lot of TB race folks accept that as a given and never ask it of their horses. Anything we did with them requiring standing was a two man job including a horse holder.
I just did a google for "never tie a racehorse" and you will see plenty of places where this shows up in the results- mainly in OTT retrain pages warning that many racehorses are not trained to tie.
I'm not saying that they can't be trained to tie, I'm just saying that it's not that uncommon for a racehorse to not know how to do it/have the disposition to really go wild over it.
Thankfully years later I got to work with some TB hunters who did an amazing job at demonstrasting to me that what had previously been my only TB experience- was mainly an issue of the human managment and not something amiss in the breed of horse.
Actually, most TBs at the track are never tied. Speaking as a person who spent years working at major race tracks in CA. If they are tied it is typically in a stall where there is always a solid wall behind them. I was shocked when I came from a non-track horse world to the track to see how very little practical type of training those horses got. At the smaller tracks where there are more owner trainers that bring horses from their farm to the track you might see horses with more everyday sort of handling
Do not assume your horse will just work it out. She needs some training, and I don't mean take her to a dressage diva or HJ barn for that training. Ton's of show horses are never taught good ground manners or how to tie either. I'd suggest finding a decent NH style trainer to give your horse a months worth of training. I watched a long time trainer in VA work with a mare that had been coming to his clinics for a while. She was an OTTB who had passed thru many hands and was considered to be dangerous. She had progressed really well and he finally thought she was ready to begin addressing the "freaks out and bust everything" when tied issue. She had had progressive training at monthly clinics to become a calmer, less reactive horse then the tieing issue was addressed. If a horse is sent out for traiing this would progress much faster.
I can't comment on whether the horse is dangerous or not, given that I haven't seen the offending behavior.
However, I urge the OP and her hubby to not rush into getting rid of the mare until other options have been explored. A good friend was thrown from her daughter's horse and it fractured one of her vertebrae. Hubby and friend overreacted and told the trainer to "get rid of" the horse that day because it was "dangerous" (IMO, friend was overmatched horse-wise!). Horse went to a dealer with a bad rep (only one who would take it on short notice), to who knows where, probably not a happy home. Daughter wigged out, and friend subsequently did too, when she calmed down. Tried to find the horse within a couple days of the incident and the horse had already been sold on. Bad situation all around.
Can't comment on the race horses or OTTB's - but my full clyde used to tie when he was young. No issues at all - but then my, now ex, tied him to a front of a horse trailer in an angle haul and left the door open and the angle open while he went to get another horse.
Needless to say I came out to find my clyde hanging himself still tied to the trailer, stretched his halter and lead rope, and back legs under the back of the trailer and front legs in the trailer.
Since that incident anytime my clyde would feel himself tied he would full out panic - and 18hh and 2000 lbs of horse panicing is not a good thing!
Sounds like your mare might have had the same issues and fears as my guy (who ground ties like a saint!) both times she paniced she was tied.
I think if you were able to find the reasoning for her panic and explained to your hubby what you will do differently to try to eliminate the risk, he may be more inclined to give her another chance.
Actually, most TBs at the track are never tied. Speaking as a person who spent years working at major race tracks in CA. chicamuxen
This must be a West Coast thing. Every racing stable I have ever worked in on the East Coast, the horses tied. Tied to be rubbed/tacked. Tied to stand in ice boots. Some people tied instead of muzzling pre-race.
Now, they all tied in stalls, where if they pitched a fit and got loose, they weren't really going to accomplish much.
How long has this horse been off the track? Was she sent to you directly from a racing stable, or did someone else have her for awhile?
A friend of mine had an OTTB years ago that would freak out dangerously when tied. I think it may be a regional thing, but I wouldn't assume a OTTB would have been tied. The mare ended up just being plain dangerous and got sold down the road eventually. Be careful...your safety comes first.
IME most TBs do learn how to tie, but usually in a stall or protected/enclosed area. If a youngster had an issue with tying, I don't know too many racehorse trainers who would take up a bunch of time or risk injuring a horse to teach it to tie, most likely they would work around it. I don't think too many TBs get tied in barn aisles or in situations where another horse could be bothering them. I've never come across any TB people who cross-tied their horses, so I would never crosstie a new OTTB right off the bat. There absolutely are TBs out there that don't know how to tie or more commonly that need practice to learn how to tie in a barn aisle or other "new" situation. Plus, (I forget if you mentioned how old your horse is) a lot of OTTBs are just babies anyway. A two, three, or even four year old horse, depending on its character and life experiences might still need some experience and training to learn to relax and accept tying, distractions, etc.
Still, your husband has a point. Two freak outs in two weeks... Even if your mare just doesn't know how to tie or is funny about being tied and is good as gold otherwise, it still can be a dangerous issue. Be careful, don't get yourself injured over this. What if your mare freaks out in a situation where you can't get out of the way? I think you've got to figure out if this issue is something that is manageable or is a sign of deeper mental instability.
I don't think your husband is being unreasonable. This horse might be a perfectly decent horse. However, you may be the wrong owner for her at this stage of her retraining. My barn gets a lot of middle aged women with Black Stallion syndrome. What I've observed is that accidents and big blow ups are almost always preceded by a series of minor incidents which the owner is totally oblivious about. For example, an experienced trail horse bolted and dumped his owner. We weren't at all surprised, because the horse had been doing little scoots and spooks for months. His owner never noticed the scoots or the escalation in their severity until the horse finally did a drop, spin, and run for home. THEN she noticed. I'm wondering if your husband is seeing a similar situation building.
Another woman I know has a lovely horse she's ridden with great joy for the past 20 years. She got him for free. The driver of the truck to the rendering plant gave him to her after he killed his previous owner. The previous owner made the mistake of walking up behind her hot green horse with no warning and took a hoof to the head when he spooked. Good horse; wrong owner. A fatal mistake.
We have had 5 OTTBs over the years. Right now we have 3 at home. Two of the three tie. The third used to tie, but she had a panic attack in a trailer, did considerable damage to herself before we got her out and some damage to the butt bar. After that she no longer tied. She does however ground tie now. She loads like a pro, in a stock trailer, but unloading is another story. It makes for some interesting stares, but she does have her own style for unloading. My gelding is narcoleptic, he is always tied on with a brake-away/bailing string. He will fall asleep 9/10 while being groomed, so we are carefull with him. Our other mare has attitude but she ties. At the TB training farms and breeding farm I worked out when I was younger, we always tied the horses in the stalls.
Track horses ARE tied, but IN their stalls and often with a rubber tie which stretches a bit. They don't have a lot of room in their stall to suck back and throw a fit, and they usually feel pretty comfortable & secure while they're in their stalls.
I've had a couple of rescue horses off the track that were not good about being tied (straight or cross-tied). I would suggest that you get a rope halter & tie the horse (with an unbreakable rope) to a VERY sturdy post (or similar), outside. It may be kind of a "mustang/breaking" move, but it's one way to teach a horse that it will NOT get loose so it may as well stop fighting. Keep in mind though, that if the horse is tied with too long of a rope, or if it gets really upset, it could in fact, injure itself. If you try this, you should have a safety release (at the post) in case things go very badly. Most will learn, and accept it. However you may be taking a chance that the horse will injure itself.
Last edited by CharingHounds; Dec. 30, 2012 at 08:14 PM.
Years ago we had a OTTB that ended up at my old instructor's barn. 9 out of 10 times he would stand like a champ tied while I groomed and tacked him. Then on that one time he.would.just.freak. Dead panic in eyes and in his actions. We couldn't figure out what triggered it and he was such a good soul the rest of the time that the lead was just put through the hay string. That way if he freaked, he just ran back a few steps and realizing he was not restrained at all would stop and walk forward when asked.
For the record - what we understood is that he had been injured in a barn fire, still had the scars, before coming through the sale barn and to our barn. So we didn't know if his pulling back was related to the fire, the treatment or what.
"Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
Courtesy my cousin Tim
Another thought; I knew a horse on the track years ago that was absolutely wonderful most of the time. But every now and then he'd go "blank" and take off momentarily for no obvious reason. Years later I heard that he went through a fence with the owner's husband, and subsequently ran off in an arena, dropping & injuring the woman who was riding him. They ended up euthanizing him for fear that he would really hurt someone. They conjectured that he may have had a tumor or such (but didn't do a necropsy)...
She was with a lady who was pregnant, had her for about 4 months and they didn't do anything with her, she was pretty much a pet. I knew I had a good amount of training to do (terrible ground manors, not standing to be mounted...all of which I've been able to resolve pretty quickly) but when I went and saw her I was able to walk her up and down their driveway under saddle with no problems, which made me think someone did something with her. The Lady said they bought her from some "cowboy" type people so who knows. Some of them have some strange training methods. Sassy (the horse) is 6 yrs old and her papers didn't come with her so her last recorded owner is probably the guy who raced her.