Tips for getting my horse to stand still in crossties
I just moved my horse to a new barn, and she's really antsy in the cross ties. Doesn't seem nervous or anything, just won't stop moving around. This seems like something basic that I should have learned but I've never had to deal with it before because she was always perfect in the cross ties at our old barn. Does anyone have any tips for getting her to stand still? Thanks!
Because you said she's been recently moved to a new barn, I'd recommend ignoring her for now and letting her get used to her new surroundings. If she was good at the old barn, she knows the drill... I doubt that she "forgot." Some horses can take as long as a couple of weeks to really get comfortable in a new home. Just go about your business and let her antz around.
That being said, if you're trying to groom her or something, and she's fussing around and pushing into your space with her body, do assert yourself and claim your personal space -- no one needs a 1,000 pound animal shoving on them, ever. She might be acclimating to her new home, but she certainly doesn't have to be disrespectful about it.
One little trick that helps with some horses is to start them out standing square. Most horses are pretty comfortable standing square, and for some starting even and comfortable takes away the reason for fidgeting.
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.
Get some of her energy out (ride/lunge) then let her stand there for a while. Got barn chores to do? Clean your saddle, clean out her stall, clean your brushes, etc. By removing her from the cross ties before she has settled is only encouraging the behavior. Any horse can throw a little tantrum for 20 minutes, that is if it takes you a while to tack and groom. Then your ready, you take her off and she gets what she wants. I bet she would eventually settle down if you left her on there for an hour or more. It's all about patience!
My mare will stand still wherever I put her.
The key is correcting them the instant they do something.
When my horse takes three steps forward we back up three steps
she moves to the side, she gets pushed back.
She caught on pretty fast
In the new barn she doesn't know where the enemy is lurking and is nervous about being dinner.
just lots of exposure and consistancy
Thank you all for replying! I went up to the barn again today, and I have to say she was ten times worse in the cross ties than last time. There was barely more than one or two seconds where she wasn't moving around from side to side and forward and back. I can honestly say that she's not nervous or scared though, I know her well enough to say that much!
Today I tried to act super relaxed myself, and praise her when she was calm, but there were very few moments like that. She almost stomped on me several times so I had to get big and loud to enforce my personal space, which I'm not happy about having to do because I feel like it made the experience just very negative.
Next time I think I'm going to try a blend of a few of your suggestions. Probably going to lunge her right away before bringing her into the barn to get her listening to me, and then maybe leave her in the cross ties while I do some stuff just out of range. Hopefully that will let her get her sillies out and then once she's calm maybe I'll put her straight out to reinforce the calmness.
Again, thanks for the tips everyone!
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