Teaching a horse to tie (part 1)
Published 01-27-2010 11:25 AM
Don't you hate horses that cannot stand still, pulls back, breaks halters? Not only is this a menace, it is also unsafe! Veterinarians and farriers don't like horses that can't stand still, as this is unsafe for them.
People have been asking me how to teach a horse to tie. I am not a trainer, so I will compile the training techniques I have heard throughout the years. If you have other techniques, please email me so I can add them to the list.
I attended the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) Annual Convention in Las Vegas in December of 2009. This is a great convention where horse veterinarians come together to learn and share the latest research findings about all aspects of the equine health. This year's attendance was over 7,000 people.
While there I attended a round table discussion led by Dr. Andy Anderson of Oklahoma. He is a veterinarian, horseman and showman. He struck me as the calmest person on earth, like nothing could faze him. He is tall, has a deep voice and speaks slowly, which I guarantee has a calming effect on horses.
Someone asked him how he teaches horses that pull back or are fidgety to tie quietly. He said he ties the horse to a post for 5 days. This has to be done in a safe way that the horse will not get his legs caught anywhere, will not break anything, and will not get wrapped around the rope. If you do this in the summer, you want to provide shade and protection from the elements.
Dr. Anderson uses a rope halter, as those are more difficult to break. He said he will tie the horse and leave. He will come to check on the horse later, and bring hay and water. If the horse is quiet as he approaches it, he will untie the horse and let him drink and eat. If the horse is still pawing when he comes over to feed, he will turn around and not feed the horse at that time. The feeding works as a reward to the horse. After the horse is done munching, he ties him back up again. He checks on the horse all the time, making sure he hasn't injured himself. He waters and feeds 2 or 3 times a day. And this goes on for 5 days. He said that the horse will look "rough" by the end of the 5-day period, but he said the horse will look fine after 1 day of grazing.
He said that if done right and safely, the horse will learn patience and will definitely learn how to tie and stand quietly. It is important NOT to use a halter that the horse can break or take off, because that will reward the horse for bad behavior.
I personally thought that was a drastic way to teach a horse, and I have never seen it done. But I am a firm believer that a horse needs to know how tie and stand quietly. I cannot stand horses that paw, pull on the halter and just act as if they were entitled to something you are nor providing right then. I personally keep my horse with a trainer that makes it part of his routine to tie the horses in their stalls every day after the training session. And I have no objection to that.
Please email me with your own techniques so we can help each other make our horses better horses!