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Another post about this TB... Tying issues

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    Another post about this TB... Tying issues

    Lovely mare. Fabulous ride, excellent work ethic, safe under saddle. BUT.
    This g0@forsak€> darn TB pulled back once when tied to trailer and broke the string, and another time pulled back and broke the halter. Had a “fun” run around and came right back. Nothing aberrantly spooky. Now I just lock her in the trailer. HOW DO I BREAK THIS HABIT???!!!!!!!!! Dont want to injure my horse but I am okay with ugly as long as this foul habit is retrained and resolved. I’ve been ground tying her at home which she has learned. I will supervised tie her to trees, hitching post around farm by looping it through and not tieing tieing her and that’s fine but that’s not sustainable for off property. Any and all suggestions welcome, if available on YouTube please include link. And yes we practice ground manners regularly with rope halter. This nonsense is a bad habit she learned because she used to tie great no fuss even with chaos around her. She cross ties fine at home.
    Original Poster

    And I catch her testing her ties now bc she will try to lean on the rope/tie. So double loop she can’t hang bc she backs up a few steps then stops, then I can reguide her and tighten loops back up. But when hard tied she just blacks out and tried to break stuff aka aforementioned


      If she blacks out, it is not a case of her doing it just to upset you. You need a professional trainer.

      Do not step in to untie they will suddenly jump forward and land on you.

      Other than that do not tie her at events. Take a portable yard. Use yards or stables already there or take some one who can hold her when you can not.
      It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.


        Original Poster

        We are in professional training and none of my coaches has a viable solution other than to not tie her. Don’t want to send her out just to learn how to tie


          Mine backs up and breaks the ties occasionally. I immediately keep backing him up and he realizes it’s not fun. I don’t do this if he legitimately spooks at something. It works for him.


            Original Poster

            Gucci been doing that so flying backwards is “my idea” but unfortunately she continues to test rope after standing for 5-10 min. But she really doesn’t go flying back if she is not hard tied


              Will she tolerate a Blocker tie ring? Sometimes that little bit of give keeps them from panicking. But the smart ones will eventually figure out they can walk away.

              Otherwise, this is a tricky issue to resolve. If she's not reliably tying hard and fast at home without pulling back, including when there are distractions, I wouldn't even attempt it at a show. Just stick her back on the trailer when you can't supervise.


                Original Poster

                And she honestly stood great today with the rope just double looped around a tree branch for an hour while I did other things around farm. She was pissed about it but she stood respectfully. It is the hard tying that she tests .


                  Original Poster

                  I suspect that she will tolerate it but to me a blocker ring is a training tool and not the end goal


                    Pulling back is IMO not a disciplinary issue. Horses pull back as a flight response to some sort of fear claustrophobic response. They don’t just decide to pull back and break a halter because they feel like being naughty/ getting out of work. They panic, get to the end of the tie, and then get more panicked because of the claustrophobia and they have nowhere to go and pull back harder and *snap*. Then the horse just learned that pulling back as hard as they can is the only way to relieve the pressure.

                    “Ugly” methods are not only abusive/ dangerous, they don’t work. Traditional “ugly” methods would involve hard tying your horse to something that won’t break, in a halter/ lead that won’t break and then let the horse pull back as hard as they possibly can. This is a really good way to hurt your horse. You can have an unbreakable rope halter, and unbreakable rope, unbreakable post, but the horse is not unbreakable. All your doing is making their anxiety of tying a hundred times worse because they know when they’re tied, they’re really trapped, if a lion or bear comes to eat them.

                    If I were you, I would:

                    1. Stop tying the horse. It doesn’t tie. So until you’ve taught it to tie, don’t set them up to fail. Lay your tack out ahead of time and tack up while you hold the horse, or get a friend to help you.

                    2. Be patient. I understand it’s frustrating because nobody likes replacing broken halters, but your horse isn’t doing to it to be a jerk he’s doing to because they learned that’s how to get a “release”.

                    3. Invest in a “blocker tie ring”. Start SLOW by tying the horse for a minute and maybe give him some cookies and then untie him. He’ll learn being tied is actually not so bad. And if he DOES pull back, the blocker ring will make it so nothing “snaps” it’ll just add resistance. Work on it’s a little bit of time every day. Avoid leaving your horse there for an extended period of time especially in the beginning. Tying should be a relaxing experience... it’s not a time out/ punishment.

                    4. Dont punish him if he does pull back. The resistance the blocker puts on the lead will be what makes it not fun for him to pull back. You getting mad and smacking dobbins does nothing.


                      Original Poster

                      I got a blocker tie but again not sure how to attain end goal. Obvi I’m not hard tying to stuff, and yes this is frustrating/annoying. I keep making concessions (prepping tack, etc) to keep things smooth/easy for the TB but not relearning how to tie is not a long term solution. Realistically what time frame does this generally take? At what point is a horse considered retrained to tie and can be reasonably hard tied again? All it takes once she is “retrained” is to have a ballistic moment and either break free, break my stuff, or break herself. Or run free then break herself. But when she inevitably gets loose one day after being retrained I don’t want that to be the undoing of tons of time and training, ideally she should be able to retie and not test the rope immediately after. So how does one reroute the brain to really decrease future odds of that?


                        Originally posted by tikkamasala View Post
                        I got a blocker tie but again not sure how to attain end goal. Obvi I’m not hard tying to stuff, and yes this is frustrating/annoying. I keep making concessions (prepping tack, etc) to keep things smooth/easy for the TB but not relearning how to tie is not a long term solution. Realistically what time frame does this generally take? At what point is a horse considered retrained to tie and can be reasonably hard tied again? All it takes once she is “retrained” is to have a ballistic moment and either break free, break my stuff, or break herself. Or run free then break herself. But when she inevitably gets loose one day after being retrained I don’t want that to be the undoing of tons of time and training, ideally she should be able to retie and not test the rope immediately after. So how does one reroute the brain to really decrease future odds of that?

                        Why would it matter how long it takes? How’s that relevant here?

                        First of all, she is not “testing” the rope. Horses don’t think like that. She is just looking for a release. That moment when something scares her or makes her anxious makes her fly back and she knows to do that until the pressure from the halter pulling on her face, goes away. That’s all she’s thinking. She’s not intentionally trying to break your tack. She just knows that when she gets in that situation “pull back harder” leads to a release.

                        By re-teaching her to tie, you are teaching her that when she spooks or gets scared, instead of flying back, she can take a step forward, and relieve the tension of the rope and therefore the pressure on her face. When you use a blocker ring “pulling harder” won’t lead to a release, but taking a step forward will.

                        Once they learn how to how to relax when they’re tied, it won’t matter what they’re tied to because they will know that if they do spook, and they do get claustrophobic at the end of the lead, they know to just step forward for the release.


                          Recently my horse just stopped moving over for me. It was disrespectful and annoying. I obsessed over it, feeling like this one behavior was a blinking light of bad behavior to everyone around. Finally, realizing that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I just decided to let it go. I wasn’t ignoring it, but focused on other things with the hope that whatever else I was doing would fill in the missing pieces. It worked. I’m a big believer that we’re training our horses every time we interact with them. I do think that sometimes problem behavior does go away. Horses are weird. It could be that she’s sensing your trepidation with her being tied, and she’s feeding off that anxiety. I don’t think a professional trainer is going to fix this only because I think they’d hard tie her. My point is that if this behavior occurred out of nowhere it may disappear as easily.


                            Original Poster

                            Ceffyl, you’re not wrong at all and that’s my deep down hope. I do not want to send her to a professional western/horsemanship trainer at all because I’m afraid they will cowboy her and mess up the other great parts of her brain


                              When I first got my OTTB years ago she was 4 and didn't really tie. She would panic if she got to the end of the rope. I think she also liked the idea of going off on a little adventure. I quickly got a halter with a breakable crown piece and would tie her to baling twine. My mare is very food oriented and I would give her treats for standing nicely this was helpful. She also did much better when she didn't hit a "hard stop" on the rope (like using a blocker tie ring or sometimes attaching a lunge line to her halter around tie rail and to my hand. When she backed up, I'd just reel her back in. Well it's been many years and she is pretty good about tying now. I still always tie her to baling twine with a breakaway halter. She has stood tied to the trailer at shows for over an hour. It helps that she has a bag of hay to munch on. It just took time and patience.


                                I would send her to a professional. This whole never tie the horse again for the rest of its life is a giant pain. I disagree that the horse needs a release, while a blocker tie ring is a great idea the horse needs to learn that it will remain tied, period, and that nothing bad will happen to it while it is tied.

                                Not every trainer ties a horse to a tree and leaves it, they work on ground work and giving to pressure and the horse being alone and comfortable in its own space. Then they tie the horse solid. We have a few local cowboys and they restart everyone's OTTBs or warmbloods and give them the foundation for success that they need. They don't mess up the horse's brain, they make them better citizens.


                                  Most TBs from the track come with some tying skill installed, but for the most part, they are tied in their stalls to a blocker ring with a haybag right next to them so they don't tend to test the rope. Most of them do not know how to cross tie, and haven't been exposed to tying "out in the open", but almost all of them have the basics "tie in stall" installed.

                                  All horses instinctively have a pull/evade response to pressure. You have to train that out of them gradually. Horses learn by release of pressure; teach them that stepping forward relieves the pressure.

                                  Here is how I teach all of my TBs off the track to tie to anything (as an aside - all tying points must have baling twine breakaway, or similar construct, and always tie at your eye level):

                                  Teach them to yield to pressure in hand. Any time you take them out to ride or groom, do five minutes of in hand exercises. One thing I teach a horse, is to step forward when you pull against their halter. While this seems like a "well duh" exercise, many (young) horses lead by visual cues and follow their handler, not necessarily pressure from their halter. Exercises to help with this include having them yield their neck to you (stand by their hip, pull their lead rope until they turn their neck, release), dropping their head if you pull downwards, and practicing stepping forward when you pull against them. These exercises teach them to yield/drop their head to pressure, which prevents them from fighting against it down the road.

                                  Another thing I do is hand graze them with a long cotton rope (in a leather halter), in a safe/enclosed area. If they step on their lead-rope.... well... that's that. Most horses only step on their lead-rope a few times before they realize panicking makes it worse. I find once they've done that a few times, they start to "think" about how to release the pressure.

                                  If you have a tie-buster, always have an additional lead-rope clipped to their halter and drape it over their neck while you are grooming. This is your lead to grab when they test or begin to pull back so they can't run off -- make sure you stay out of their way if the horse panics, but, the second the tension is released, re-tie them and go back to what you are doing.

                                  I do not make a big deal of them breaking/popping off when they are tied. In my experience, disciplining or punishing them for breaking the ties just makes their anxiety about being tied worse.

                                  I also teach all of my OTTBs to ground tie. This comes in handy when there are limited places to tack up, or we're on the trail and I need to remove a log/branch/whatever. Start small; bring them to your tack up area, say "Stand" and make a big show of dropping the leadrope on the ground. Wait 5s, give them a treat and praise. Walk/lead them off again. Go back to the same area, repeat the same thing, gradually increase the time, praise and walk off again. Gradually incorporate grooming, picking hooves, whatever. Always go back to the same visual spot (in my yard, this is a patch of stone dust) until the command is confirmed and the horse understands you are asking them to stand still. The lead-rope being dropped is their signal (as is your verbal cue) to stand, and they are not allowed to move any time that lead rope is on the ground. If they wiggle or move, make them step exactly back where they were when you dropped the rope.

                                  Hope that helps.
                                  AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                                    One of my mares was like this, really terrible at the trailer, I spent a few outings standing at the trailer, having her "mock tied". The rope is safety tied, or just not tied but I hold the end of the rope through the bailing twine and stand at the side of the trailer. The minute she would go to pull against the rope I pull the end to release the safety tie (or if not tied just give the end more) so she never really reaches that hard tie to pull against. In time I could then hold the rope if she pulled back, but go with her so she inst able to pull back and run off or get that totally "free" feeling.

                                    It took about 5/6 outings of this method. She know ties at the trailer peacefully and we didn't think she would ever be that type! It just took repetition and patience. Side note, I have done extensive ground work with her so she does understand pressure/release.

                                    I also suggest try tying her at the trailer at home to tack up and groom every day. Using the method above I used, with the rope not ties but just through the bailing twine so you can keep it as tight as needed. If you can park your trailer somewhere safe then you don't have to worry about her running off is she does pull back.

                                    Try not to get mad or frustrated, just be patient and give the clear directions she is to stand there every time until it becomes the norm.


                                      You have lots of good suggestions here. The biggest lesson is you have to take the time to train, and there is no quick fix. My appaloosa came to me with a pull back, pull away, panic reflex. He wouldn't load consistently either. It took years. He was a Perch cross and there wasn't a rope or halter that could hold him. But once I had his brain, he'd tie with a ribbon. Good luck.


                                        I tie with a blocker ring 24/7. To me, it's not just a training tool, it's a safety net. Horse can't get hurt, and horse can't get loose. Both are safety aspects. I never solid tie, ever.