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Both of us freaked out after cross tie incident

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  • Both of us freaked out after cross tie incident

    My mare has always been fine on the ties, but for the past 7 months or so I have barely used them as I taught her to stand/ground tie instead.

    Tonight I had her on them & I came back towards her to brush her, tripped, scared her & she pulled back, hard. Positive feedback loop, she got even more upset & struggled I wasn't able to get to the ties to unhook them fast enough & she backed out of her halter.

    She managed to cut herself. There is no ceiling to hit, she didn't hit the wall, the only thing I can think if is that she gave herself a halter burn or something. Maybe hit her face on the metal clip on the way out? It isn't where the halter goes, but in more forward, between front of ear & her forelock.

    I rinsed it with saline, but she wouldn't let me anywhere near it to see very well. I could barely see any cut, but there was a nice stream of blood from what looked like nothing. I know head wounds bleed a lot, but it was disconcerting.

    Tried to smear antibiotic ointment on it, not sure how accurate I was. I feel horrible b./c she is now terrified to let me near that side of her face & am now convinced she will die of infection.

    I will call vet tomorrow morning. will she develop fatal brain infection before then?

    eta: will she now be head shy & ruined forever?

  • #2
    nope. She and you will be fine. Leave that side of her face alone for a day or two (unless it looks to be getting infected), and let her just forget about it. Then in a day or two, start at her shoulder and start brushing up toward her face. If she get tense, ignore it and move back toward her barrel.

    Over time, she'll get over it.


    • #3
      The most important thing is for YOU not to get worked up about it. Be as absolutely nonchalant about it as possible - go about everything with the attitude of "I know it was scary, but you are tough and fine and there is nothing to worry about any more. I'm not worried, so you aren't either." That will be your best bet with this issue. She will get over it, you just need to help her along as best as possible, by acting as if you have forgotten about the incident already. I have found that horses only worry as much as their handlers, and the best thing you can do is be very confident. It doesn't matter if you are truly confident or not - your horse just has to believe you are.


      • #4
        I'm sorry to hear this. But I'm sure she'll be fine, it'll just take some time for her to be comfy on the crossties again. No big deal. It sounds like she did get a halter burn when backing out. You might want to invest in a breakaway halter or if the crossties don't have a breakaway aspect to them, clip a snap with baling twine tied to it to create your own crosstie breakaways. With time, she'll get over what happened. Especially if you bribe her with treats at first. The idea is just to make her supplant fear feelings with happy feelings...then move forward like nothing ever happened.
        Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation


        • Original Poster

          Thanks, guys. All advice I would give to others, but when it happens to me it is all different...

          believe it or not, she did have a breakaway halter on...that didn't break! Cross ties had quick release snaps that I didn't get to on time...from now on it will be twine or one of those blocker things. Growing up we had inner tubes.

          on the continuum of cross tie incidents, this is SO minor, I know.

          I was fine until I was driving home...started thinking about all the weird stuff I have heard about bone infections, bla bla. Then I actually sat there & tried to decide if cut was near to her poll (joint) & if infection would go to synovial fluids. Good grief.
          Remind me to stop reading The Horse.

          so this is reason #1053 why I do not have children.

          AND when ppl are like this about their kids I tell them they are being ridiculous!
          Last edited by Hippolyta; May. 13, 2013, 12:29 AM.


          • #6
            Oh she'll be fine.

            So will you.

            It Rory forever to learn to crosstie, lots of pulling back and one broken halter later, and he crossties like a champ. The time he broke the halter, he lost quite a bit of hair, so probably saved himself a cut that way.
            COTH's official mini-donk enabler

            "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


            • #7
              OP - I can relate to the worry, though your posts did make me chuckle...my only advice for you last night would have been: go have a cocktail. Things like this are why cocktails were created. The mare will survive as well, and I'm willing to bet that you will be twitchy about this incident longer than she will!
              We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


              • #8
                Get a treat that she feels is irresistible and put it in a bucket that she will have to work at a bit. Hold the bucket so that you can see the boo boo and get a good look while she eats. If you just have to touch it, use the same procedure.
                “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
                ? Rumi


                • #9
                  the blocker tie rings re-trained my horse to cross ties after he had a freak out one time. Then he kept trying to break out. the Blocker rings were awesome. One on each side and now he is great in any cross-ties again. Good luck!


                  • Original Poster

                    I think it was the image of bright red blood pouring down her head, combined with look on her face, that disturbed me so much. Couldn't decide if look was accusation or disappointment. It is stuck in my brain.

                    Gayla: DUH. why did I not even think of that? I did give her some treats b/f I put her back out & she was fine.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 2tempe View Post
                      OP - I can relate to the worry, though your posts did make me chuckle...my only advice for you last night would have been: go have a cocktail. Things like this are why cocktails were created. The mare will survive as well, and I'm willing to bet that you will be twitchy about this incident longer than she will!
                      OMG, I thought about drinking, too!

                      My suggestion was that you take your mare to a bar, buy her a "sorry, my bad" drink and move on. Maybe you could buy round 2 as well and pour her tequila shot on the cut.

                      Both problems solved by the time you guys leave the bar.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat


                      • Original Poster

                        more thoughts:

                        You know, I have been around when so much worse happened when I was working for other people, or around other ppl's horses, but it was never MY horse. Or, when I was a kid, even though it was my horse, parents were still around (never consulted, but knowing they were around absolved me of total ownership). I was NOT like this. being 100% responsible...eesh.


                        • #13
                          I'm glad you and your mare are ok. I am obsessive about using a piece of natural baling twine (not the plastic kind) between the end of the cross tie and the wall mount, but I've run into people who just won't listen. Once you've seen a horse freaking out on cross ties that won't give, it stays with you. I'm sure your mare will be sore around the poll for a few days. Just watch her closely to make sure she's moving, eating and drinking normally. And you're right...it's a lot like having kids some days. :-)


                          • #14
                            If I use baling twine or any other break away material, it's always down at the halter end of things, not up at the wall attachment. The last thing I want if a horse does break out is for them to then be dragging the chain or rope or whatever type of crosstie they were attached to!
                            "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by JackieBlue View Post
                              If I use baling twine or any other break away material, it's always down at the halter end of things, not up at the wall attachment. The last thing I want if a horse does break out is for them to then be dragging the chain or rope or whatever type of crosstie they were attached to!
                              good point. Getting whacked in the face with the tie could also lead to more bleeding, which is what I am trying to avoid in the future.

                              We need a ride-up bar around here. I went to one in Romania- it was in a old train car, off the side of the trail. You don't even really need to get off your horse.


                              • #16
                                Blocker tie rings are *great*. Well worth the bit of extra money.
                                You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                                • #17
                                  I actually don't like the blocker rings - I have seen several horses learn how to just gently pull out of them and wander about on their own and frankly, I just don't trust any of my horses! Schneider's makes this clip that works with a similar concept to the blocker ring, but provides more resistance so under normal pressures it won't give. You do need to use a nylon rope for them. I am getting a few of these for the cross ties because I have a horse that has figured out he can break the twine and get free if he's bored (young idiot type). I have also used them at a boarding barn and like their "feel" - they only give if the horse is truly pulling back.


                                  • #18
                                    I feel you, but NO, a fatal brain infection/synovial involvement/etc. is not likely, as in extremely unlikely. It is scary to see your own horse bleeding, I will admit to this, but in situations like that you must remain calm- your horse is relying on you! I was pretty freaked out when a horse tried to rip my horse's face off, but I had to stay calm to help the vet who came out to take care of her. We were the only people on the ranch, and my mare needed us desperately. The Vet couldn't do everything on her own, so I had to help. I didn't like it, but you have to do what you have to do.

                                    In situations like this, if you are comfortable giving IV injections, it is advisable to give a sedative before exploring the wound. This way the horse stands still and you can avoid further damage while you go "exploring". This is especially important if you are working around delicate/vulnerable structures, (eyes, joints, etc.). Before we did anything with my mare, she got a hefty dose of Xylazine- we needed to check to be sure the eye that had swollen shut was in one piece, and we absolutely couldn't have her jerk her head when we used a hypodermic needle to wash the eye with saline solution.

                                    The one thing that taught my mare to cross-tie reliably was teaching her to give to pressure- no matter where it came from. Horses naturally lean towards pressure, a lot of what training is is teaching them to give to different types of pressure in different ways. I wanted my mare to give to the slightest amount of pressure, so I started by standing a little ways in front of her while she was haltered and tugging the lead rope towards me. At the moment she took a step forward, even if it was tiny, I released. I kept doing this until she stepped toward me at the slightest tug. I did this with her on both sides, and then transferred it to the cross tie. I hooked her up, then tugged on the ties. There was a momentary panic, and then she remembered what we did on the ground and "released" herself by stepping forward. I did this several times a week for months, and she eventually learned it so that she didn't even have to think about it: she just did it.

                                    The result is now, if she gets spooked by something, she'll pull back, feel the pressure (and if her breakaway halter hasn't snapped by then) bounce forward and stand there shaking. She doesn't pull back, struggle, and flip/hang herself.