05-08-2012, 11:22 AM
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I agree that it sounds like "new barn" nerves. We think a cross-tie is a cross-tie is a cross-tie, but to a horse, every cross-tie is a brand new situation. A few things, look at the activity level in the cross-tie area, some horses find other horses nearby comforting, for others, it creates concern. Some times of the day are very busy in the cross-ties, some are more quiet. Are these the kind of cross-ties with walls on each side or are the open where the horses can see each other? Are you able to adjust the cross-ties easily, and if so, does your horse need to move his head a little more or lower it to feel more relaxed? These are all things to think about when you are helping your horse get comfortable with new cross-ties. Now, as far as teaching is concerned, I have great concerns about cross-ties, horses can and do get hurt in them. So, I never cross-tie a horse that is very nervous, as a general rule. And, I spend a lot of time, asking horses to stand and relax in the cross-tie area without tying them. What I do is add the cross-tie area to our daily activities, going into the area after we've had lessons that day, and I try to show them that the cross-tie area is a place where we relax. I groom them, fuss over them, making sure that I am very calm. Over sessions, this could take weeks by the way, when the horse goes into the cross tie and begins to calm down, because they associate with a place to relax, I will then start tying them for short periods of time, making sure that we leave before they get antsy. This method will work well on a "seasoned" cross-tying horse that needs a reminder of how to tie quietly.