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Standing tied advice

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  • Standing tied advice

    Hi everyone!

    My younger boy has never been great at standing while tied. He gets antsy and bored quite quickly. He doesn’t do anything more than wiggle around so there’s no pawing etc, but it is quite obnoxious for shows that I tie to a trailer.

    Many people have suggested me tying him and leaving him alone for an hour or so.

    I was wondering what people thought of this method? Do I give him a hay bag so he has something to occupy himself? Will he think of it as punishment? Please share your thoughts!

    if I did end up tying him for a while it would be in an arena with his head at an appropriate height in a breakaway halter so that safety would not be an issue.

    thank you in advance!

  • #2
    Tie him as you described, bring a chair and bring a book. Settle in and ignore him. When he stands still for, let's say, a minute, untie him and give him some scratches/a treat if you feed treats. Make it clear that that standing still is awesome and gets him rewards.

    My mare was pretty wiggly and noisy (lots of whinnying) and a few sessions of that helped immensely. I do use a hay bag when she's tied to a trailer in new surroundings.

    How does he do standing still for long periods when you're holding him? And standing still under saddle? It's all related.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by ChestnutArabianMare View Post
      Tie him as you described, bring a chair and bring a book. Settle in and ignore him. When he stands still for, let's say, a minute, untie him and give him some scratches/a treat if you feed treats. Make it clear that that standing still is awesome and gets him rewards.

      My mare was pretty wiggly and noisy (lots of whinnying) and a few sessions of that helped immensely. I do use a hay bag when she's tied to a trailer in new surroundings.

      How does he do standing still for long periods when you're holding him? And standing still under saddle? It's all related.
      Thanks for the reply! I’ll definitely do that. It’s freezing right now so I might sit in my car with a book but I’ll be able to see him lol!

      He’ll stand for hours in hand and under saddle unless it’s in a spooky environment, but he’s only been in a working program for about 9 months so I don’t blame him for looking around occasionally.

      Comment


      • #4
        Also, time your sessions after a work out so the rest is a reward. Tired horses tend to appreciate rest and tie better. Start with just a few minutes, and build on that. Haybags help, but are not always necessary. Mine will all stand for hours, but they didn't start that way.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by friedmas View Post

          Thanks for the reply! I’ll definitely do that. It’s freezing right now so I might sit in my car with a book but I’ll be able to see him lol!

          He’ll stand for hours in hand and under saddle unless it’s in a spooky environment, but he’s only been in a working program for about 9 months so I don’t blame him for looking around occasionally.
          Please do stay in your nice, warm, entertaining car. The key is to be within earshot (so that you can free him if he really gets into trouble) but out of his sight.

          Standing tied is a skill than young horses need to learn, both to be a good citizen and to be safe. That's because it will be *convenient* if you can leave your 1,000# co-dependent momma's boy once in a while to go pee at a horse show (me and my nice hunter gelding), or go to the office, or go drink with someone else (rodeo horses, every weekend). But some day, sooner or later, you will find yourself having to tie this beastie somewhere that is not optimally safe (say, to an rickety fence while you are helping someone else who came off and is hurt.... or to a trailer with a bad fender design where the pawing horse could catch a foot and tear his heel off... seen it happen... or a kid will tie him to the swing set (again, an actual story)). This is the time that you will need to fall back on your horse's understanding that tied means "relax... we 'are in Park' and chilling until further notice." Again, the equipment or situation or people in charge will fail your horse some day, and the horse himself will have to take up the slack and keep himself and everyone else safe.

          So you need to give your horse the chance to learn to "self-sooth" while he's tied. And really, it's reasonable that this is hard or non-obvious for a young flight animal who lives in a herd. He has to be taught some alternative to the advice his instincts give him.

          I personally like to tie them hard somewhere safe-- perhaps in a stall with a set of walls around him that help discourage him from making a break for it, always with the ring at the level of the horse's eye or higher. I don't love tying a horse with any kind of fuse that can break because the last thing he needs to learn is that if he'd just pull back hard enough to find the equipment's breaking point, he'll get the freedom he wants. I do, however, keep a knife on my so that the horse who is tied hard can be freed if he should get into one of those wrestling matches with the wall and fall such that he really did lose and can't get up.

          A really kind way to teach tying is to do that along the wall of an arena where other horses are being ridden. This way, baby colt gets the security of some herdmates; you get something to do that actually takes some time (we tend to not want to spend a couple of hours waiting on our tied colt to get trained), and he gets some intermittent invitations to do the wrong thing and try to leave, whether because the ring emptied out for a moment or because another horse trotted by too close to him and he couldn't move much to do anything about it.

          But really, just pick somewhere safe and acceptable within your barn's environment, commit to the process (including your waiting around) and work on it a few times a week.

          A Blocker Tie ring is a fabulous modern gadget. I never tie one to a trailer anymore without one of these. The idea is that a stiff rope (like a well-used yacht rope) will slide through that ring, but slowly. You can wind the rope around it in different patterns to create more friction (and therefore more resistance) if you like; YouTube videos will show you. I also like a long rope-- what that amounts to is *time* offered to the horse to re-consider his pulling back strategy.

          Lots of young horses will get riled up first.... pawing, moving around and trying to look behind them to both sides, calling for their buddies before getting angry/frustrated/committed-to-escape enough to try just pulling away from the rope. At this point, the smart and merely angry but self-preserving horse will find the end of the ungiving rope and pop back forward. The more hysterical horse, or the one who has a pattern of using his strength to get what he wants (and therefore, lots of older, "remedial education" horses) will panic. At that point, just get out of the way, he really is blindly scared and you would be well-advised to prioritize your safety over his. IMO, this kind of horse and scenario is where the design and logic of the Blocker tie ring and a stiff long rope come to the fore. When the horse is angry or scared, where either emotion and a shit-ton of adrenaline is driving him, what I think you want is a simple, enduring, relatively unchanging situation. You don't want him to feel "slightly trapped" and you don't want him to be released by simply pulling harder enough to break equipment and get that stunningly sudden and desired reward of being free. What the long rope sliding slowly through the bars of the Blocker tie ring gets you is the horse having a non-panic-inducing situation (because he is getting a bit of freedom by pulling), but at a cost-- it's a PITA to stretch one's neck that way. And while he's held here in a self-harming, simple bit of pressure, he *has time to reconsider* his decision to pull back.

          The reason to tie a horse at eye level or above is because his neck is relatively weak for this kind of pulling contest. Tying him low (like at his withers) lets him hunker down more and exert more force back on the rope. And all that lets him pull really hard on the nuchal ligament and then the collateral ligaments holding his vertebrae together up near his poll. Tying him higher reduces the leverage he can get and goes some distances toward keeping the dedicated Kamikaze horse safe from himself.

          And that "has time to think and not so scared he can't think" scenario is what you want. In fact, standing tied for an hour or two is the same process: You want the horse to work through any questions he has about the wisdom and safety of being trapped this way. It's important that he has time to let his emotions rise and fall with no input from you; this is the self-soothing part and it's the key to getting to that horse who finds peace while tied.

          If you find your time running short, the right thing to do in this training scenario is to pick a moment when your horse is relaxed and accepting of being tied. Just then, walk up and unceremoniously untie him and lead him away. You can praise him a bit if you like, but you don't need to make a big deal of it. Trust me: If he didn't like being tied, then chilled and then suddenly got untied, he is replaying the videotape in his mind and asking himself what he did to earn that desired release. That's like the way you ask if God loves you after you get some unexpected gift while just walking down the street, minding your own business. And think about the alternate conclusion he reaches if he breaks equipment "God sent me on a Jihad; once I was pulling back hard enough such that I was willing to die for my freedom, Shazam! He freed me! That's how the world works-- you have to risk your life to escape a trap..... ask any of my ancestors how they felt about being trapped and they'll tell you the same thing."

          Again, what you are doing by choosing the right time to untie him is giving him the reward he wants-- peace. But note that the whole logic of teaching a horse to tie is that 1. He can give himself pease by just practicing some acceptance of his being trapped; and 2. Helping him learn that the "staying still" is where the peace is. That is an odd thing for a flight animal to learn, but our modern world does require that they learn to stand tied, no matter what. And they really can learn to do it with reliability and internal contentment.

          Good luck! I hope this helps
          Last edited by mvp; Nov. 12, 2019, 08:46 AM.
          The armchair saddler
          Politically Pro-Cat

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          • #6
            I had a horse I could never tie with a halter. She just panicked if she felt her head was constrained. But if I used a neck collar, like a big dog collar, no problems. I still kept the halter on, and tied, but the halter tie rope was a lot longer than the collar lead, so she never hit the end of the halter rope...It was security for me.

            Comment


            • #7
              The trainer out of our barn regularly ties his his training horse to the round pen. First, the round pen is built totally from very solid and thick wood rails. Second, he just wraps the leadrope a few times around the rail If the horse seriously freaks out, s/he can feel some release, and maybe or maybe not free themselves. I don't think he ever had a horse free itsself but the release helped calm "freakouts".

              He is very big on teaching a horse to tie and wait for hours on end. He ties all of this horses and works with them one at a time. According to him, this teaches the horse to wait, and I've never seen any of his horses do anything but stand there or if they want to pull back, they are in control of their own release.

              My horse, as a 4 year old, regularly broke out of cross-ties. This trainer taught my horse that he has to follow human direction, and my horse figured out pretty quickly that he's pulling against himself when somewhat attached to a fixed object, and it taught him how to stand without external stimuli. For hours. Again, he *could* have escaped if he freaked out, but he would have had to work at it and he didn't. This horse now stands fine at trailers and ties everywhere. Not so much as a 4 year old.
              Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

              Comment


              • #8
                MVP, how old should they be before tie training. Having had a horse who never pulled back, and would stand tied always I want my colt to grow up to be that same kind of citizen. He’s 18 month with a 2 minute attention span. He does crosstie but I have not yet tested him on pressure release. What about the stepping on your own lead rope scenario. Good idea to let him sort that out on his own?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by friedmas View Post

                  Thanks for the reply! I’ll definitely do that. It’s freezing right now so I might sit in my car with a book but I’ll be able to see him lol!

                  He’ll stand for hours in hand and under saddle unless it’s in a spooky environment, but he’s only been in a working program for about 9 months so I don’t blame him for looking around occasionally.
                  Do NOT do what ChestnutArabianMare suggested. Getting a horse to stand patiently is a process that is taught step by step, you don't just tie them up and hope for the best.

                  1. Teach your horse to give to pressure. You need a rope halter. You want him to drop his head if you touch him at the poll, when he drops his head reliably, you want to teach him to step forward when you pull forward with a lead rope.

                  2. He should be completely desensitized to a variety of things like plastic bags, tarps, etc. I had someone's shade tent go blowing past my trailer on a windy day this summer. If you hauling to shows, think of crazy things like that, and see if you can come up with something similar to use to desensitize your horse. The process of desensitizing teaches a horse to calm itself down if something happens that causes anxiety or stress.

                  3. So your horse reliably gives to pressure and is desensitized to a variety of stuff that may pop up at a show, and can also calm itself down if something happens, such as a loose horse galloping past. Now it's ready to be taught to tie up. You need a rope halter, and blocker tie, and a 12' lead rope that fits through the blocker tie ring. Tie up to something that will not give or break if the horse pulls back. You want to gradually increase the time you tie the horse up, and don't untie him unless he is standing quietly. If he pulls back, he will not break anything, but he will gradually pull the rope through the blocker tie. It's hard work, and most horses stop pulling back before they get to the end of the rope.

                  If you tie him up with a breakaway halter, or using baling twine or anything that will break, you will teach him to pull back because that stuff breaks with pressure. The pressure needs to go away when he stops pulling, which will teach him to stand.

                  There are some good videos online.
                  "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hilary View Post
                    MVP, how old should they be before tie training. Having had a horse who never pulled back, and would stand tied always I want my colt to grow up to be that same kind of citizen. He’s 18 month with a 2 minute attention span. He does crosstie but I have not yet tested him on pressure release. What about the stepping on your own lead rope scenario. Good idea to let him sort that out on his own?
                    He's at a good age for this-- his neck will be strong enough that you won't risk damaging it it if you tie him at eye-level or above (and if he's reasonably sane). But he's also not big and strong enough yet to break equipment easily.

                    For most barns that aren't set up for young horse programs, I think tying a baby in his stall while you are around but not attending to him is a great way to start.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

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                    • #11
                      Sane and silly. He was not thrilled that I put the buzzing clippers on the floor while I brushed him, but the purple Mylar balloon that blew into the pasture was AWESOME for playing bop on the nose.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hilary View Post
                        Sane and silly. He was not thrilled that I put the buzzing clippers on the floor while I brushed him, but the purple Mylar balloon that blew into the pasture was AWESOME for playing bop on the nose.
                        Oh... baby horses.

                        But those two reactions make sense for a flight animal. The ball seen out in the open where he can choose how close he gets to it is interesting. Confined by the barn or you asking him to stand still or tied and hearing something that he can't see or understand and can't escape... that's the kind of thing that killed his less paranoid ancestors!

                        There's a thread right now on a horse who objects to clippers and I wrote how I teach horses to roll with clippers. Check that out of you want to start educating baby. I think he's the right age to learn.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

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