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Stopping a horse from pulling back when tied

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  • #21
    I think a HUGE part of answering what to do for the OP's horse is no different for any other horse...you gotta know why they are pulling back and refusing to be tied. A horse that is just being rude & tacky is VERY different from a horse that enters the transaction of being tied with mounds of baggage and panic. We've got one in the barn right now who LOVES to pull and/or lean on things just to see them break. Never a panicked moment...she busts stuff and then stands there - I swear she's laughing. I've also had horses in the barn (one particular OTTB comes to mind) who completely flipped out over ANY confining situation - TOTAL melt down w/zero sense of self preservation. Would I tie him to something "unbreakable"...not if I wanted to have a horse at the end of the day.

    A good horseman will look at each horse & situation as a whole and proceed accordingly.


    • #22
      I believe that once a horse learns to pull back when tied then you are extremely unlikely to ever get him to the point where he can be safely tied to something that has no give.

      Best to accept that and work around it - ground tie, use tie-block, use "The Leader" or tied to an innertube - forever. Tying a horse that pulls back to something that will not give or break is ASKING for severe injury, death or extreme destruction. NOT WORTH IT.

      The absolute best horse I ever owned and with which I competed in lots of different disciplines was a confirmed puller. I bought a couple of "The Leaders" and used them without out worry for almost 20 years with him.

      Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.


      • #23
        My sister's horse a long time ago was a puller. He did it just for fun, we think. He was never in a panic and never ran off. You could see him calculating how to break something. You could watch him think, take a step forward and a few quick steps back to snap anything. He would just break the halter, lead, or post and just stand there. We could never tie him somewhere that would not break eventually.

        The only thing that help was something a friend rigged up for us. It basically was a rope that we tied to the post, ran it though the halter ring, between his legs and wrapped around his belly. So basically if he pulled, it tightened around his belly. The harder he pulled, the more it tightens. It only took him once or twice to not pull with it on. It did not cure the problem, but gave us a solution. This is not for a horse that is afraid. This is for a horse that pulls and breaks things for the fun.

        I wish I could remember more details about it, but this was probably 15 plus years ago.
        Jacobson's Saddlery, LLC
        Society of Master Saddlers trained saddle fitter


        • #24
          Okay, I'm not understanding this. Every horse I've ever owned will tie and stay put. They might try to leave but can't. They will tie. Doesn't matter the breed, how they are built, what their life was before me, who slapped them before me or kicked their buns. My horses have ALL tied and WILL stay put. No pulling. They might try to set back once or twice and that. is. it. They either give up or give up. I've never had a horse hurt either, except for the once tying too long and he didn't hurt himself, just kind of a bit wigged. Fine after that.

          My Appy mare tried her best to pull a barn down because her previous owner would panic and run at her to untie. I tied the biddy up to the stout post in the barn and with the barn manager watching, let her try to pull the barn down. We stood there and laughed. She tried again. We laughed and didn't make a move towards her. Then she stood there and looked at us with a big ?? over her head. We weren't panicking and OMG'ingshe'sgoingtokillherself. We stood there. You couldn't GET her to set back after that. She'd stand there and look ?? at YOU because she wasn't going to move. Of course, the first time owners who were in a certain TV trainer's clutches were wigging out. But, their horses would set back all the time, the owners would be hopping about like a mad hen...provoking the horse to set back more. Sheesh.

          I'm telling you, these horses are smart enough to play a human and act up to get what they want. If you tie where they can break something, it might break and they go over. I don't use any metal, just rope lead tied to rope halter.
          Last edited by goneriding24; Dec. 28, 2012, 11:45 AM. Reason: Felt like it.
          GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


          • #25
            Originally posted by sheltona01 View Post
            The only thing that help was something a friend rigged up for us. It basically was a rope that we tied to the post, ran it though the halter ring, between his legs and wrapped around his belly. So basically if he pulled, it tightened around his belly. The harder he pulled, the more it tightens. It only took him once or twice to not pull with it on. It did not cure the problem, but gave us a solution.
            We had a rig like this. My show horse back in the one day tie to trailer show days was a confirmed puller. His was fear. HE would get claustrophobic and pull back, but also when you took the halter off to bridle him, or the bridle off to halter him, he would be afraid you would hurt his ears or teeth and simply leave. And, as we could not have a 1400# appy galloping around the show grounds several times a day, we had Triple E make us a belly system with the super strong nylon.

            The belly rope came up between his front legs, through a neck rope with a bull snap, and was tied to the trailer. He would sit back on that and it would hold him. It didn't tighten, it just held. Then he would think through it and stand. He made the release knots miserable to untie, and once moved the entire rig back 6" but he never got away from it. When we sold him, it went with him.
            Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


            • #26
              Those blocker ties really work but you don't have to buy a Clinton anderson one. YOu can go to most tack shops and they have it. Mine is the older version that doesn't have the magnet on the back of it but get the new version. They are about 20-25.00 but well worth it. You can also get one of those halters that have the double strap on the poll. When the horse pulls back the second strap kicks in and releases the endorphines and they learn to give to the lead. You can also work with him on a lungeline. There are many ways to cure this, but it takes time and patience.


              • #27
                I guess I should amend my above statement about doesn't matter what breed. To my knowledge, I've never owned a draft or a horse with a whole lot of draft in them. My statement was more the saddle-horse type weight/builds on down to pony. But, my TB's all tied, even the race horses.
                GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


                • #28
                  Originally posted by SmartAlex View Post
                  We had a rig like this. My show horse back in the one day tie to trailer show days was a confirmed puller. His was fear. HE would get claustrophobic and pull back, but also when you took the halter off to bridle him, or the bridle off to halter him, he would be afraid you would hurt his ears or teeth and simply leave. And, as we could not have a 1400# appy galloping around the show grounds several times a day, we had Triple E make us a belly system with the super strong nylon.

                  The belly rope came up between his front legs, through a neck rope with a bull snap, and was tied to the trailer. He would sit back on that and it would hold him. It didn't tighten, it just held. Then he would think through it and stand. He made the release knots miserable to untie, and once moved the entire rig back 6" but he never got away from it. When we sold him, it went with him.
                  The appy mare I referenced above had been banned from the local fairgrounds due to her setting back, breaking something and then charging around like mad. That was one of the reasons the owner sold her. I didn't know about this till someone saw a picture of her on my phone and filled me on her deeds. She had quite the rep for doing things.
                  GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!


                  • #29
                    Since this is a new horse, I would let the horse settle in, and relax before trying to fix too many things. And do NOT tie the horse to something solid! If it's of the panicking variety, it will break its neck before it stops pulling.

                    My mare was like this when I first got her, and she was rather head shy as well. I couldn't cross tie her for 6 months, and everybody had to be very careful when making movements near her head. If I had tied her to something solid, and let her "fight it out" she would have killed herself. What worked for me was making sure she never felt like she couldn't back up if she pulled, and to never let a lead rope/cross tie get tight enough to scare her. But, she would never take advantage of you letting her go when you pulled. She was genuinely scared, and not trying to get out of work, or break things for the heck of it.

                    She needed time to settle in and relax, learn the routine, and figure out that being cross tied with other horses and people moving around her wasn't the end of the world. Lots of patience, and learning what her triggers were was key. Once I learned what freaked her out, I could avoid it/stop it before she got scared.

                    Now, I can tie her to the fence, to a post, and cross tie, and not worry about her freaking out. She is still a little iffy, but she knows that if she's tied and the cross tie pulls tight, she's not going to die. She just has to move, and the pressure will let go.

                    Patience and a sharp eye are going to help you the most!
                    "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


                    • #30
                      Pulling back in the wash rack

                      I'd like to resurrect this thread. Here's what happened yesterday, with some background.

                      The round pen was full so couldn't get her kinks out before the ride, and she was herself. Not bad, but a sort of nervous lookie-loo. Sort of bad shy at a dog barking she didn’t expect/couldn’t see clearly that it was a dog, but I rode it out. Felt myself holding on with calves, and hands too high (her head was in the sky). But I got my hands down, and calves away from her side and she came back well.

                      I guess I should point out that we are city riders in our barn. Folks in the barn ride down city streets to reach the trailheads for the mountain rides. I have not taken Holly that way yet, but that’s one of the goals. I don’t have an arena available, so use the areas vacant lots.

                      We are doing a lot of walk-trot stuff. The faster she goes, the worse her steering gets, and she’s not used to being ridden in the neighborhood yet. She’s been led around the neighborhood for ages, but not ridden there till now (since she’s been back from training). Today is her two weeks back from the trainer day. Trainer reports Holly is very smart so her attention tends to go everywhere. I called it a success when she went in a straight line from my imaginary point A to point B in the same vacant lot, just not so near the dog. But I digress.

                      Holly ties very well, leads very well, takes her bridle, bit, saddle well. She trailers in a slant very well, but not in a straight load.

                      The issue is the wash rack.

                      She’s always had an issue with it. Trainer had her so she would stand in there to be washed, and now she leads in fine, will take a drink from the hose, let me wash, (not so much around her face) but she broke the brass clasp on the Parelli lead yesterday, by pulling back at the point where I was putting the scraper down and starting to move my hands to the lead to untie. Once she figured she was free, she found the nearest bale of hay and started munching. She’s done this pulling back twice since she’s been back from trainer. The first time, I was holding her and she got the rope out of my hands, and the second was yesterday with the broken lead. Both times, upon catching, she went right back in, stood for a little while and then, was convinced to back out slowly.

                      One “cure” I’ve read on this old thread was the “rope around the girth” thing. I thought of it yesterday, but wasn’t sure.

                      Any ideas?
                      Founding Member: Spotted Saddlebred Pals Clique


                      • #31
                        I've used the belly rope successfully.

                        Third Charm Event Team


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by ThirdCharm View Post
                          I've used the belly rope successfully.
                          I'm not sure if it's the same thing, but I've used body roping successfully before as well. Lead rope around the barrel, another lead rope clipped to the first between the front legs, passed through the ring where you'd normally clip a lead rope on the halter, and then tied to whatever you want them tied to. Prevented my Morgan from pulling back when tied and he eventually learned not to because he couldn't get loose that way.


                          • #33
                            Our vet always told us about the horses he had to treat that someone had used the rope between the legs and around the belly and over the withers.
                            He had seen some very bad injuries to the withers from that.

                            We never had a horse that didn't tie that we raised or trained, but had a few that came with that problem.
                            I have heard people say they trained horses out of pulling back, but then seen the horse still pull back in a pinch, so no, I have never seen a horse that pulls back badly ever get over it.

                            The humans learn to manage, but if set off, that horse will again pull back, it seems to be part of their involuntary nervous system once learned, like us pulling our arm back if something touches our fingers we don't expect, you don't just leave your hand there, but jerk a bit.

                            It has never made sense to me to tie a horse that you know will pull back solidly to something and let it do so, because it can cause serious damage to it's poll.
                            Every old timer I knew would tell you to use a gunny sack or later inner tube, or tie were there is a bit of shock absorber to whatever you tie with.
                            That is because they got to work with really rank horses and knew how easily they would hurt themselves when set off.

                            If someone has a horse that pulls back, manage so the horse is secure without tying it and keep teaching it to give to pressure, so if and when it does pull back, maybe it will slowly learn not to overreact quite so much.

                            I would say, expecting those horses to quit pulling anywhere, any place, would not be realistic.
                            Managing and minimizing, yes, that comes with good handling and teaching not to overreact.


                            • #34
                              I had one - I had an unbreakable web tie (from a tractor) with a huge clasp, strong nylon halter and snubbed it against a post. He was a mature horse and did know how to tie sometimes...not a youngster. I snubbed it so it could be released if necessary. He tried a couple of times and knew he could not
                              break it --- but I'd never tie and leave him, he was good in the barn, stall, x-ties, but outside at an event and tied to the trailer might not have been a good thing, if he was not supervised. He stayed in the trailer.

                              I'm not sure they ever truly learn never to pull, even if 99% of the time they are good. And the risk of injury is high if there is a real panic attack.
                              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                              • #35
                                I'd agree with Sonesta above: if the horse has already pulled back several times, I would not risk any of the "tough love" fixes, unless you're okay with the horse possibly getting a serious injury.

                                In my (admittedly limited) experience, once the horse figures out that there's nothing to pull against, they stop freaking out. Teach the horse to ground-tie. You can do it with just persistence on your part, but it's a bit easier with clicker-training.

                                Yeah, if the horse is ground-tied (rather than on cross-ties) you won't be able to leave them for 20 minutes standing without your supervision in the aisle, but really you don't need to leave a horse for 20 minutes standing in the aisle without your supervision, and, realistically, leaving a horse that already has demonstrated a problem with cross-ties is never going to be a horse that you can leave standing in the aisle on cross-ties unsupervised. If that's a deal-breaker for you, then you need a different horse.

                                You have to pick your battles.

                                Good luck.
                                "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                                • #36
                                  There is another way to look at this. A horse cannot stand still and pull back effectively if they are placed close to the tie spot. A careful use of negative reinforcement can work for this which is really teaching the horse to stand or stay.

                                  Basically, tie the horse loosely in a way that you can grab the lead for the next step. As soon as it takes a step to pull back (and feels pressure from the tied rope), make it back up about fifteen steps. Stop. Stand calmly for a second. Lead it back and loosely tie. Repeat. Every time the horse makes a move to sit back and put pressure on the lead AND step backwards, repeat the backup. You can use other methods as well, such as a lead away and flick of dressage whip at the hind feet, but I have found the backing to be very effective, especially since I am not coordinated to do that dressage whip thing. Do this training for a short period only, like five or ten minutes. Put the horse away on a good note, after it stands for a few seconds and repeat the lesson, twice a day or until the horse behaves. I'm not saying this works for every horse but it is an easy technique to at least try, and I'll bet some version of this would work with the mischievous ones who enjoy flipping their heads and breaking things.

                                  I have heard the inner tube tying method to be very effective, but I have also read accounts of horses who are terrified of tying and freak out and bash their heads into the snubbing post so I am reluctant to tie up firmly.
                                  "Random capitAlization really Makes my day." -- AndNirina


                                  • #37
                                    Go to a tire place that sells tires for BIG trucks.

                                    If you are putting him in crossties, get two big inner tubes.

                                    Cut the valve stems out of them so they don't stick someone in the eye.

                                    Tie them to the isle walls, posts or whatever, and then tie tie ropes to the other end.

                                    A horse will pull and pull and pull and maybe even sit down, but he will not break his halter, assuming you don't put a rotten halter on him, and eventually he will just plain get tired and quit.

                                    If you only tie with one rope, do it the same way, one tube and one rope hitch.

                                    He might sit down, he might lie down, but he will eventially learn that it just is not worth all of that work.


                                    • #38
                                      I worked for a guy in HS who hard tied a 3 YO horse to a tree in the barn yard. The colt sat back, fought, lunged forward, and killed himself- slammed headfirst into that tree, dead, dead, dead. True story. So when I think of two very valuable mares I know well who are successful horses (polo mare, super nice, and a dressage mare, also super nice) I can't see tying M or P to a tree with a rope halter and integrated lead and telling them to just by God fight it out. The polo mare ground ties at the trailer's side all day long, and ground ties in the aisle. Done. Nothing in her life requires her to tie. The Dressage mare crossties just fine, and stands on her trailer at shows, watching the world go by her window. Done.

                                      If you just really do want to fix it, do it the methodical way with the blocker tie ring, or tie them from something pretty high (above their ear tips), and pretty solid in the ground- tree, a post, something truly 100% not going to collapse under the strain, and attach a lead rope ( That is tied onto a rope halter, no hardware) to an inner tube on that high tie-off point. The horse MUST willingly yield to poll pressure from you applying pressure on the lead rope first. If you cannot train that and achieve that, you are just trying really hard to scare and damage your horse. TRUE story #2: My old horse trailer had these 'springs' that supported the dividers. I hauled my gelding loose in the stall one day. I got to my destination, went to unload him, and when I opened the back door, he was looking at me under the divider. He'd reached to borrow a bite of his neighbor's hay,and the halter got pinched in that stupid Exiss' spring. And he didn't fight. He rode, however far, with his head down because his halter/poll told him to do that. I undid his halter to free him, and with one good tug on the end of the poll strap, I pulled it loose.

                                      here are some DON'Ts:

                                      bad attempt- right beside a door she could sit down and slide under, breakable hardware, and tied way too damn low:

                                      too low, too much room for a horse to try to go over the rail and into that fence.

                                      I cannot find a good set up. Everything I find the horse is tied chest level, which is just plain wrong and dangerous.


                                      • #39
                                        I had an ex-chaser that refused to tie. He was a panic/stop thinking type. I taught him to ground tie. I could use cross ties IF he was in the wash stall and had the solid wall behind him. I also kept a lead rope on him so I could correct him if he started pulling back.


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                          Our vet always told us about the horses he had to treat that someone had used the rope between the legs and around the belly and over the withers.
                                          He had seen some very bad injuries to the withers from that.
                                          I used a belly rope one time. It was the first and last time I'll ever take such a measure. The person who advised me has done it several times without incident. This particular horse fought, however. It was ugly and terrifying to watch. Horse was fine, thankfully, though it never led too close to trees again. So while it did learn something, it did not learn to stand tied. Nor did I ever push that issue again.

                                          My own opinion on the subject is that once a horse has learned that it can break away, you're only inviting trouble trying to break the habit. There are work-arounds. It's an inconvenience for sure and there are safety concerns. I don't believe it's realistic to unteach that behavior and create a horse that reliably ties. The occasional spook and set-back is something that happens. The horse that sets back, breaks out, and then stands calmly having already learned to expect that release will fight when the parameters change, possibly even panic and hurt itself or bystanders. Not worth it. You can work on creating calm and yielding to poll pressure, but success in these areas will not and do not guarantee anything when tying the horse hard and fast.
                                          "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh