So you’ve got a horse that pulls back:
First it’s important to look at why pulling back happens.
A) horse was underprepared and under educated to tie, felt the lead rope and panicked. A horses natural response to pressure they don’t understand is to panic and try to escape- unfortunately their attempt to escape creates more pressure they don’t understand. Add to that anything that may have broken loose and followed them in their panic such as a lead rope dragging behind them, post, or other such thing – now you have a pretty intense trauma.
B ) horse was under educated and unprepared, and has learned to break ties due to poor equipment. Never tie to something that can break if you don’t intend for your horse to learn to break ties : bungee cords, blocker ties that can be pulled loose by moving, baling twine etc- if your horse is not adequately educated, they will quickly learn to break these. If you’re using this to prevent a wreck (except in the case of hauling which is entirely different) your horse is likely not ready to tie yet. Not to mention, if they’re used to breaking things that break, they are likely to really hurt themselves pulling back if they’re ever tied to something that WONT break.
C) horse was over exposed while tied. Example: fly sprayed, saddled, washed etc – something that scared them while tied. Never ever do something to a tied horse they can’t do loose. When a horse is dealing with the threat of the new stimulus they don’t understand or are afraid of (ie fly Spraying) and, trying to escape, runs into the pressure of the lead rope, they can really panic. Do not do not do not do this.
What to do about it?
1- create accurate lead rope work 100% of the time. Every second your horse is haltered you are working toward a better understanding for them with how to manage your equipment. This means they leave slack in the rope and follow a feel. You can’t afford to space out after a wreck, and you owe it to your horse (even if it isn’t your fault, it’s your responsibility) to help them understand the equipment and clear up any misunderstandings. Your horse should never drag on the rope – this means you are aware every step.
2- set them up for success. Don’t tie hard and fast, possibly for a while, and when you do, make sure you are nearby. Learn a good quick release knot and carry a knife with you. Advocate for your horse and make sure others around you are mindful of your horse when you are working on tying.
3- build trust, relaxation and connection in absolutely everything you do together. Help release their polls, necks, shoulders and backs which are all negatively affected by pulling back – get a good body worker.
4- don’t ever tie in the trailer without the divider, butt bar or door being closed. Untie before you open.
5- prevention is the name of the game from now on. Once a horse has had a wreck, they are more likely to duplicate that exact kind of wreck. You need to learn your horses expression to read signs of trouble building (BEFORE the trouble happens), learn the triggers, build good communication, and help head off future wrecks. Have some good ways to connect and teach your horse to look to you for help through groundwork in the event of another wreck.
Do your best not to let your horse get hung up again-
And it will not teach them better behavior to “fight it out” on a patience pole or some such thing. The risk of their injuring themselves is too high, and the injury to your relationship is even greater.