Some thoughts on tying:

Tying is an important skill I believe all horses should be confident in.

For many horses, this has become an extremely dangerous thing. A horse that pulls back on the halter or drags on the lead rope is not safe to tie. A horse that learns to break out of his tie or headgear is pretty difficult to reform, which is why I avoid breakaway ties at all costs.

Make sure you are tying to safe, secure posts only!! If a horse can pull it out in a panic (you’d be surprised what a horse can pull when scared), do NOT tie to it. Nothing destroys confidence like a panicked horse dragging a post around behind them.

Safe tying starts with correct leading. If a horse knows without a doubt how to give to the lead rope, and is taught in little pieces what the meaning of his halter is, he will learn to tie safely.

Tying hard and fast and letting the horse “figure it out” leads to panic, injury and future panic when tied. I have a mustang with facial nerve damage due to being tied and left to figure it out on a patience pole. This is not a humane way to educate.

Teach your horse the little basics – how to give to the halter. How to follow the lead rope, not just drag around or follow a person. He needs to know how to speed up and slow down from the feel of the rope. How to untrack his hindquarters if he needs to move without taking the slack out of the rope.

Then start small with little tying experiences. I don’t begin tying hard and fast – I start with the lead rope draped through a fence like in this photo and a second person to help the horse discover what is needed for him to do to not hit the end of that rope.

Teach him it’s ok to be alone for a bit of time before you tie. Teach him he doesn’t need to be alarmed at outside stimulus before you tie. And set him up for success by giving him good experiences a little at a time til he can tie patiently and calmly if something scary happens around him or he becomes frustrated.

Don’t leave you horse unsupervised when teaching him to tie. Injuries and panic are not good ways to build confidence and understanding. A bad experience can last a long time.

Don’t forget that tying is the result of understanding. You don’t start out with tying, you start out with teaching the little pieces that go into tying.

One thought on “

  1. Hi Amy- I noted Katrin’s method of “tying” at the clinic… she basically doubled up the lead line and threaded it through the bars.  I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but it was a genius thought to me.  I put Roxy on cross ties once and tried to soak her feet in Epsom salts.  She went crazy, backed up broke her halter and breakaway cross ties.  I didn’t feel too  smart.  😦 Debbie

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