Tying That Pony

halter barnNow I’ll be honest-as if you’d know if I weren’t-I have no use for a horse that won’t stand tied or a human that caters to one that won’t. “I’ll just have to hold her because she pulls back.” Well, sister (this is almost invariably a female) get your big girl panties on and teach that pony how to have some manners and stand hitched. It’s not that hard. Well, I take that back-it can be hard on both the horse, the equipment, and the owner, but the training sure as hell isn’t complicated.

BTW-Do NOT leave a halter hanging like that. It isn’t that it is bad for the halter, but you are just ASKING for some klutzy something-like me for example-to come along and stick a foot in that thing, and go flying, ending up with sprained wrists, dislocated shoulders, and god-only-knows what else. HANG YOUR STUFF UP.  For heaven’s sake, folks. All you have to do is hang it from the ring it is already attached to! 

Why do horses set back-pull back-can’t be tied-or whatever you want to call it?

Claustrophia and that sense of being trapped. Those two phobias will set them off and they cannot help themselves. They have to break free. They are open area prey animals and they have to have a certain degree of freedom or they’re not happy. (Which is why you will only find ulcers in stalled horses.) Let’s think like a horse-I’m being asked to put my head into something that restricts my freedom to move around (the halter). My head is what some predators will go for first in order to bring me down to eat me so this is a big deal for me. They’ll grab me by the nose and behind my ears. (Where does a halter put pressure? on the nose and behind the ears). Now you want me to be even more restricted with my head fastened in such a way that I can’t move it the way I’m accustomed to doing! (The horse can no longer turn its body 360 degrees to see all the way around itself.) My fear is building-I’ve got to leave-NOW! and they pull back violently.

Many, many people will tell you to tie horses solidly to a big post or tree with heavy ropes and heavy halters and just let them fight it out. You can do that. You run the risk of having a permanently injured horse or a dead one because they can break their own necks. I’ve heard of using something like inner tubes to have the give, too. That’s a little less dangerous, but not by much. I’m not crazy about either one. In fact, I’d call them abusive.

I’ve used a soft cotton rope tied in a bowline around the girth line and run through the front legs, through the halter, up and over a high tree limb, and over to a tree with a quick release knot for my pullers and I ain’t gonna stand tied. It has the advantage of the tree limb having the natural give in it, the bowline won’t slip but it is secure, and the tree won’t leave. The student can dance, protest, and generally raise the biggest stink in the horse world, but they will go no where at all and they can’t get hurt. I don’t-however-ever leave one like this. But they do learn that standing tied will not be the end of their world.

Two things that must be learned and learned well before you start: how to do a bowline that will not tighten, and how to do a proper quick release.

THE best quick releaseThis is the BEST Quick Release knot-there are others, but this one keeps ALL of your rope on ONE side after you pull the release. The only thing the diagram doesn’t show is the ‘lock’-which is to simply pull the tail through the loop.

underhand bowlineMake sure you learn how to do the bowline correctly. You do not want it to slip.

 

 

 

bowlineI included two diagrams to help learn how to correctly do the know. Please practice until it is habit.  All it takes is one slip and you’ll be reaching for a knife to cut loose a choking horse. I know because somebody did that at my barn-and swore they had tied a good bowline.

 

 

Another thing is to use the devices know as ‘Tie Blocker’ or ‘The Clip’, or some people even make their own out of old snaffle bits. The principle is the same as wrapping the tie rope several wraps around a good STURDY hitch rail. (Please don’t do this to a fence rail-you’ll be chasing a horse with a fence rail slapping him in the butt.) The idea is that they get enough slack when they pull back to satisfy the urge, but remain tied. With the devices, you can adjust the tension via a screw or just tie a knot in the end of the lead so the horse cannot pull out and just leave. With the hitch rail, you start with four or so wraps, and as the horse improves, you can reduce the number of wraps needed thereby reducing the amount of resistance. It takes patience, but it does work.

Please be respectful of the horse. Being tied is not natural to the species, but it is necessary to interact with humans and for their own safety. Kindness and patience gets to the goal faster that force and fear.

Follow me on my blog at The Sports Model Jackass on WordPress.  Comments are welcome.

 

 

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