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Cross tie problem! Suggestions?

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  • Cross tie problem! Suggestions?

    So I don't know if this is the place to post this or what, but I figure you all may be able to help me! I have a 4 year old OTTB gelding who has issues standing in crossties. He doesn't ever freak out, just consistently walks backward until he hits the end. I have, thankfully, always been able to unhook at least one when he backs up so that he hits the end of the crossties, and he has never freaked out. Just won't stand still. He is fine in a wash stall where there is a wall at the back (just backs up until he bumps the wall, then stops). As far as I know, there is no soreness or pain when I am brushing him/tacking him up (vet has looked at him, as well as a horse massage person), so I am assuming it is just a green horse thing. I am just now having to deal with this, as I used to just hook him up in the wash stall crossties that had a wall in the back. He is now at a different barn where the wash stall is open on the front and back! I can understand him moving around a lot when I am bathing him (he is not a fan of baths), but I would love to be able to groom/tack him up in the crossties without having to worry every moment about being ready to unhook him!
    Any suggestions on how to teach him to stand? He is quite smart, just antsy!

  • #2
    It's kind of a common problem for OTTBs, because in most training barns, they don't use cross ties. Might you be able to rig up a set of crossties in the doorway of his stall, so he backs into the safety of his stall? I had one (I think he was 4 at the time) that was dreadful fidgity in the cross ties, and would pull back.
    Stretchy cross ties seemed to make him more comfortable, and I did cross tie schooling after he did his daily work...and was a bit tired.
    Good luck, I'll look forward to hearing wat other folks have done with this problem, because I never got that one good in the cross ties...my other OTTBs had steeplechased also and were older, and cross tie savvy.
    What would you try if you knew you would not fail?


    • #3
      I would get the safety cross ties that have velcro and quick release snaps, as well as hooking the cross ties to a piece of baling twine that attaches to the ring on the wall. That way, if he does panic, injuries are less likely. It took years of practice before we were able to cross tie our TB. When we bought Irish Draught youngsters, I thought it would be similarly difficult. They looked at the cross ties and immediately figured it out. Of course, they will never make time at Preliminary. Each breed, and each horse, has his own set of challenges.


      • #4
        I had a horse that I had to train to cross tie. I started in the wash stall because it was easiest with the back wall. After he got the hang of standing with the back wall, I slowly incorporated short tie times in the center aisle. I would groom him in the wash stall and then after riding (when he was a little tired) I would untack him in the aisle cross ties, then move back to the wash stall. You have to really pay attention because ideally you only want to only put the horse in the aisle cross ties when he can be good. It will seem like you are doing a lot of shuffling around, but if you just take the time to work with him you can get him to stand.

        I know it's very frustrating, but in the end you will be happy! I know I was!! Just make sure you set your horse up to succeed because each time he's in the aisle and moving around.... you are basically teaching him that it's ok to move around....

        Good Luck!
        They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken...


        • #5
          We put our TBs in cross ties all the time at the track - you have to because you don't always have the manpower to hold the horse. They're also tied to their wall in their stalls and to hot walkers.
          Be sure you have your halter's crown piece with the breakaway leather and your cross ties attached to baling twine so that when he pulls back, the twine will break first.
          He's young and needs to have some work on the ground.
          Thoroughbred Training and Sales


          • #6
            My OTTB always shifts around on the cross-ties, but only while I'm standing right next to him, LOL! If I go inside the tack room to get something (other people are still outside to watch him, just not close to him) he stands like a saint until I get back outside. So I've realized he's just doing it to make me move a little faster during tacking-up. My point is my guy is always testing the ties, he just wants to see how much he can back up before he has to move forward again. He never panics or gets nervous. I wonder if you are assuming your guy will panic, but he might just readjust himself forward again if you gave him a minute to work it out himself (with a breakaway halter and the ties mounted with bailing twine). See OTTBs are SO smart that I bet your guy has figured out you unclip him every time he pulls back, so now he's just getting your goat.


            • #7
              You may have "taught" him to do thi - as the previous poster pointed out.

              I actually concentrated on teaching my OTTB to stand still in the grooming area first, before actually putting the cross ties on.

              It took a little while - he was a fidgety beastie, which was part of the reason I decided to have a strategy.

              I used a "stand" comand - where I would halt him, release any tension in the leadrope, and then, three seconds later, praise him (important to get a positive result!) Then we stretched it out a bit more.

              The first few times I actually used a little bit of carrot as a reward, then dropped that after a couple of days - but it did help make the leap for him that standing still was a behavior, not just a momentary lull before his next move.

              Then we went from standing to me being able to move around him and groom him, and from there it was only a few days before I hooked him up for a minute or two - with baling twine. A few weeks later and I was tacking him up there.

              I probably could have gone faster - but on the other hand, he is still good in the cross ties three years later and will stand untied so that I can photograph him without an assistant (in a safe environment).

              So on the principle that if you are encountering an issue, go back to basics, you could try that approach.
              Publisher, http://www.endurance-101.com
              Blog: http://blog.seattlepi.com/horsebytes/


              • #8
                Originally posted by monicabee View Post
                ... standing still was a behavior, not just a momentary lull before his next move....
                This is a really good observation!

                I watched one guy train a young horse to stand in cross ties for grooming. Basically the rule was, I put you HERE, and the feet DON'T move. If the horse takes one step, the rule has been broken.

                So each time the youngster stepped over to one side, the trainer said "Uh-uh" and briskly but calmly rearranged him back to the original position.

                Each time the youngster stepped forward, he poked him gently in the chest to immediately put him exactly back where he had been.

                If he stepped back, he immediately had to step up to where he had been.

                The lessons only lasted five minutes at first, a couple times a day. After a few weeks the little guy was standing very well for a complete grooming, feet handling, etc.