I'd suggest investing in a good rope halter, as well as an Aussie Tie Ring...there are probably videos on youtube explaining how to use the Tie Ring; but the basic concept is that when the horse pulls, he gets a little slack, relieving the flight response and clausterphobia associated with it (when the horse reaches the end of the lead).
To me, it sounds like this is already an ingrained habit, given that he continued until he busted halter.
I agree. The habit is already there. Also, use a tie ring. However,just using the tie ring or blocker ring won't fix the problem. You need to show the horse by training that it doesn't need to pull back. Check out Clinton Anderson and how to use the tie ring properly.
I've tied him other times and he didn't flip... This time he was tied inside and I've never tied him inside the barn. (This I just realized.) Would that have something to do with it, or does this just sound like spoiled behavior? He's a very nervous horse and is prone to sudden explosions.
One solution I was thinking of was just tying him in a rope halter and letting him pull and rear until he realized he couldn't get away. If this was my horse, I could be all for that. But he isn't. I don't want to hurt him. If he flipped and killed himself, I would be have killed someone else's horse.
That's just it. He has been tied before but this, as you say, was his first time inside. Horses don't like being in enclosed spaces. Then his head is tied so he can't move and look as easily. A recipe for disaster.
Since he has broken free, he will keep trying until he breaks free again unless you can teach him that he doesn't need to. Check out the Aussie Tie Ring and how to use it.
While a lot of the advice on here is very good, I would never tie up a horse and let it "work it out." I HAVE seen horses die, yes die, from this. One of them was my dear friends horse. He reared, flipped over and broke his neck in the arena when tied. He died instantly.
Anyways, those ring things are nice, but they are not a fix all. (The ones that allow them slack when pulling) because it can really make the problem worse. They just keep pulling til all the slack is gone and then they freak out at the end of a long rope.
What I would suggest is taking the horse to a hitching post, wrap the rope around without tying it (so just loop it around, it should be easily removable in case he does freak, and it sould make a U shape around the pole), and make it loose, so there is no tension on his halter. Then ask the horse to back up, thus giving him pressure against the rope on his halter (all while still holding the rope in your hand as its wrapped around the pole). He should, then, realize that the pressure means come forward. He may need a little tug to get him to realize you want him to just take a step forward.
What this excersize does is teach the horse to release the pressure himself. You ask him to back up, thus putting him in a bind and putting on the pressure. He then learns its okay to step forward when the pressure comes and will calmly relieve the pressure off of his head by simply giving to the lead.
This can also be used if a horse is hard to lead. The main reason you do NOT want to tie him right now while doing this excersize is because if he does freak, you need to be able to let him go. Like I said I HAVE seen a horse die from being tied, and it is a very real fear to me. This excersize is safe when used correctly and is very effective in teaching to horse to relax when tied without needing someone to coach them along, reprimand them, or punish them. Plus it will give a good base to advanced leading, trailer tying and ground tying along with touching up his basic leading skills.
Yes, the Aussie Tie Rings are not a fix all. They need to be used to teach the horse not to pull. If you have a horse that pulls, you wouldn't want to used a rope with a knot at the end. You may need to use a longer rope too. If you're using a 14 to 16' lead rope, the horse usually stops pulling before the end of the lead rope.
Your exercise with the hitching post is pretty much what you need to do with the Tie Ring, except the tie ring is holding the rope instead of the hitching post and you. As long as there isn't a knot at the end of the rope, the horse would be able to pull the rope through the tie ring.
I don't agree with those that say to use an innertube to tie the horse. The innertube doesn't give a quick enough release to teach the horse not to pull. I also wouldn't tie the horse up to let them figure it out on their own. If they have broke free before, they will keep trying until something breaks again.
One of our mares does pull back at times. When we got her, we were told that she can't be tied because she has pulled back since she was two and now she is 16, a long time to engrain the habit in. Within the less than a year that we have had her, she rarely pulls back anymore. We've figured out that she pulls back because of panic attacks. She can be tied for hours if we needed her to be, but when the panic sets in there comes the pull back. We use a calm voice to help her by telling her to "whoa" and "settle down" and rubbing her down to get her to relax again, usually before the full panic sets in. The other thing we do, in case we can't get her settled down in time, we run her lead rope through a quick release tie down. Similar to the Aussie tie ring, the rope will slip through the quick release until she quits pulling or the rope will pull through completely.