To teach my mare to ground tie I started off on cross ties. I would leave the lead rope attached to her halter and drop it in front of her and give her the cue I wanted "Stay/Stand" then I'd wait and she usually got the memo that she needed to stay still and not move. When she was good at that I took one cross tie off and repeated. Then when she had learned that I took the other one off and taught her. The rope which hangs down can be tied up at any point to teach the horse that it doesn't have to be on the ground.
Eventually when I wanted her to tie in open spaces I started in a small arena and worked with her on getting her to stay with the rope on the ground and increased the size of the arena until we were in an open field. She ground ties with no problems and I can actually leave her and go get my saddle/tack for her and she won't move an inch.
I will say that if I have a horse who is a mover or flighty I will not put the rope on the ground, I'll loop it around their neck and teach them that way. Leaving the rope hanging just worked for my mare because she's the type who would step on the rope, look down, roll her eyes and then ignore it because "dude, it's a rope" lol.
I don't have access to cross ties at home, so I had to teach my horses differently. I started with a longer rope and just went about brushing my horse. I tell my horses "stand" when I want them to ground tie, and I start asking them to stand from the beginning.
So I will have my horse on a long lead line and I will be brushing them, and when I can see that they are thinking about moving I tell them to "whoa, stand" and continue brushing. Usually just my voice gets their attention enough to stop thinking about moving for a bit at least. If they actually move, such as stepping forward, I immediately back them up to where they had been standing and tell them "stand" once again.
My horses all figured out pretty quickly what I wanted. I can leave them in the arena, and pretty much anywhere, and walk away and grab something and they will ground tie nicely. One of my horses will actually stand for a loooonnng period of time without walking away. I can saddle without them moving, and I can run and grab something in the tack room and leave them without them going anywhere. I like them to be able to ground tie even without a rope (so if I have a bridle on I can keep the reins up on their neck, I don't need any broken reins! ;]). That's why I teach them the command to "stand."
I don't tie them at all, I just start small in an area with no grazing because grass will make even the best of horses lose focus on the task at hand LOL.
I just put them where I want them, tell them "whoa" and start to walk away. If they move or follow me, I put them back where they were and tell them "whoa" again. Every time they move when I start to leave, I do that. After they've started standing while I walk away, I'll go 10-15 paces and stand with my back to them for a bit. Again, if they start to move, I'll go move them back and try again. Then, when they are standing steady for that, I'll ask them to stand and then I'll walk around the corner of the barn or into the tack room where I can watch them but they can't really see me. I'll stand there for a couple of minutes and then go back out. If they haven't moved, I'll praise the heck out of them. It's up to you whether you want to treat them or not at that point. Some of mine I do and others I don't.
Just keep repeating this process for longer periods of time until they will stand indefinitely with you out of sight.
Of course, no horse will ever ground tie 100% of the time without a person present because they are about like kids with the short attention spans and easy distraction, but most of the time it works.
4 year old horse with maybe 75 rides, hadn't seen a saddle in weeks. I led him out of the barn, told him "whoa" and he stood like a rock for around 5 minutes while I took care of the dogs around the corner of the barn.
Interesting. What you all seem to be referring to as 'ground tying' I would just call 'stay/stand' on cue. I always thought of ground tying as the horse learning that when the rope is dropped on the ground, he *can't* move, and this is generally trained in the beginning with them effectively being tied - to a log or heavy tyre buried in the ground or such. Essentially they're conditioned to thinking they're actually tied so there's no point moving, like a horse well trained to tie conventionally will act 'tied' even if the rope is draped over a rail or such.
I do it a little different but not much. I usually start in the spring summer to reach this. Let me start by saying some people will let their graze others won't. I do.
I will not feed the horse in the morning before a ride, and when I drop the reins I will do so over green grass. If the horse stands still I will leave him be. As soon as he starts to wonder I will grab the reins and stop them, make them stand a moment then mount up and go to work a short time later I'll do the same thing. As they start to stand longer and longer they get to graze longer. Then I'll get to the point where when I'm loading dogs I'll just ride up to the truck drop the reins and hop off. Watching the horse like a hawk. If they start to move we go back to work. Eventually they will get it. Mine took about 4wks of daily work. Now all 3 of them will stand and graze or watch me while I work pointers or I can drop the reins and help some one else.
My father in law about flipped when I dropped the reins of my 3yoin the barn lot to help him catcha filly and he didn't move till I got back to him