The ability to stand tied is an essential skill that is often lacking.
It takes patience and repetition to teach a horse to calmly stand tied. If you want to avoid the rough, let him fight it until he figures it out method, then someone needs to put in the work to prepare the horse to be tied.
Before being tied up for the first time, a colt should be halter-broke enough to understand they need to step forward to release pressure on the halter. If the horse's first response to pressure on the halter is to pull back, that is what they will do when tied. If a horse leads well, they generally tie well. I also like to have sacked out my horses, so that I am able to touch them all over with a flag, can toss the lead rope all over them, etc. This is what I will do once they are tied, but only after they can calmly accept it when I am holding the lead rope.
Once they lead well and have been sacked out, then I gradually introduce them to being tied. When I trained horses, I would tie my newest training horse where they were in sight of my most gentle, best broke horse. Being tied nearby a quiet, calm horse helps get them accustomed to being tied. I also make sure that my tie area is safe, with good footing, nothing nearby that the horse can bump into or get hurt on, and that the post that I am tying to is solid. I prefer a rope halter with a tied on lead rope, that way there is no hardware to break.
No matter how well halter-broke they are, all horses will at some point hit the end of that lead rope. If they are prepared well for this, they will step (or jump) forward when this happens. If they are not prepared well for it, they may fight it. If they fight it and break equipment and learn to get free, it is a really hard habit to break. Prevention is the best cure here.
The first few times that I tie up a colt (or a horse I don't know), I stay in sight and keep an eye on them. As soon as they stand quietly, then I walk up and rub on them. For some horses, this takes 5 minutes. For others, they may pace and paw for awhile. This is where many people step in too soon, and untie the horse. Do not untie the horse until they are calm. Again, set the horse up for success. Do the preparatory ground work, and tie them within sight of a calm, broke horse.
Gradually increase the amount of time you ask the horse to stand tied. Once the horse gets the general idea, then I sack them out while they are tied. Again, timing is key here. Only remove the flag when they are standing still.
Over time, I then take away the quiet buddy horse, and ask the colt to stand tied by themself. The colt will call for their buddy, and they will pace or paw. Wait until they are calm before you untie them.
I also vary where they are tied. A stout tree on the trail, the trailer, the other side of the arena, a different stall in the barn, etc. A horse that is comfortable standing tied by themself in their stall might not stand so quietly when tied to the trailer. Mix it up.
If you will be expecting your horse to stand tied for long periods of time-for example, to stand tied to a horse trailer at a show, or to stand tied overnight for camping, then you need to build up to this at home.
Overall, I think we don't tie our horses enough. If they can accept the restraint of standing tied calmly they are much more likely to accept being handled and the other things that we ask of our horses.
Regular refreshers are needed to maintain a horse's PHD. A horse that has been turned out all winter might pace and paw when tied up in the spring. I sometimes catch my horses, tie them up, then work on other chores. That way I am nearby and can keep an eye on them. This continuing education goes a long way to building a horse that stands quietly when tied.
Does your horse have a PHD?
Hi, I'm Chevy. I'm a Mama to two adorable cowboys, a Farm Wife helping manage our herd of Hereford cattle, I prefer to be horseback whenever possible, I have a passion for horsemanship and helping riders learn the mental skills they need to get gritty and go after their big horse dreams.
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