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Teaching a horse to cross-tie
Well... My mare doesn't know what cross ties are, it seems. We weren't sure if she cross tied or not, so we put her on them and she stood quiet for a few minutes, but then she realized what was going on and busted them both (They were supposed to be break away, but didn't). No one was hurt.
When I first got her, I tried holding her by the side of her halter, and she was very unsure of it. Now she is to the point I can lead her anywhere just by the side of her halter.
Now, I have been tying her to one side only to get her used to the feeling of the tie on the side of her halter. It has been 4 days and so far, she still freaks out about once a day, but is quicker to calm than when she was first exposed to them. I give her treats as she stands there so she associates the tie with good things.
She seems to dislike the feeling of it pulling on the side of her face, as she turns her head, it pulls, so she pulls on it. I keep trying to tell her the wall isn't going to eat her, but she is not convinced! I keep her normal lead on the bottom of her halter, and as soon as she feels me pull, she calms right down, so I have been using it as a way to reassure her.
How would I go about tying her to both without her panicking? I have the feeling she might again, even when she gets used to the one.
Sounds like she's not halter broke. I would start there.
Yes, I agree it sounds like she's not too good at yielding to pressure from the halter generally, so I'd definitely get her good at that before tying her, in whatever manner.
I also wouldn't tie her to anything firm or breakable if she's not ready & likely to panic & break away. You want to avoid giving her more 'practice' at freaking out when tied & getting loose if at all possible. I would first teach her to 'tie up' with the use of a long rope wrapped around a rail, or using a piece of equipment such as a Blocker Tie Ring or 'The Clip' or such, to do it in such a manner that she won't feel trapped, so less likely to get anxious, and also when she does get worried, she can move her feet, back away, settle down.... without getting loose.
I suspect that if the basic lessons are learned first, she won't have any more of a problem feeling the pressure from the side of her face as under the chin - I don't think that's the issue, but you can always do yielding & tying lessons specifically for that too, to be sure, and there's also no reason why you couldn't attach the x-tie rings under her chin instead.
Other relevant considerations are the environment you're tying her in - is she entirely comfortable in that area when not tied, to start with, and how long you've had her & your experience level - is she comfortable & confident with you generally?
Thank you so much for the advice! I will re-start her with halter breaking and see if that's the issue. She was a racehorse, so I imagine they trained her only so she accepted the halter and was led around. I haven't used a chain over her nose since we got her, though I had seen this was common for racehorses.
I will also try the rope tying and see if that helps her. Should I connect it to the side of her halter so she gets used to the feeling when loose tying her?
She is calm with me generally and is quite respectful. She has been to that end of the barn before, so I don't think it's an unfamiliar thing, just the tie on her halter.
I have had her since December and I have been around horses a lot. We hadn't been doing much because of the cold weather, but now that it is starting to break, we are starting her training to be a normal horse.
I am no expert by any means but I have dealt with many different types, sizes and attitudes (21 head was the most) and it's not like she is too much for me, as I have gotten the feeling from dealing with other horses when too much is too much.
I will admit, this is my first time with a horse that did not cross tie, so it is essentially a new thing for us both.
Again, TY for the advice!
I would have thought being an ex racehorse she would be very familiar with tying & x-ties. But perhaps not getting comfortable & relaxed with situations, places... Just because she's been to that end of the barn doesn't mean she's comfortable there, so maybe that's as much of an issue too.
I have read up a lot about OTTBs, and one of the things is that some of them do not know how to cross-tie or what they even are - as they were probably never tied in such a way.
I considered discomfort about the area, but I know my mare well enough to know when she is uncomfortable. She gives very clear signs when she is. She does not mind being where the cross ties are, as I had her so relaxed she was dozing in that very spot when I was standing with her and brushing her.
Today, I had her in the same spot (Not on the ties) and there was a lot of activity. I was tending to her and she was interested in what was going on, but she was by no means uncomfortable there. She didn't even try to move away, stood there like an angel ^^
Race horses are saddled in their stalls so there's not need to tie them. Have you tried just asking her to stand without being tied and see if she'll remain there? Why not saddle her in her stall?
Try a tie ring, it is good for horses that suck back.
^OK, racehorses where I've worked have all been kept in tie stalls when at the track, so they're used to it.
TB's are trained to a hot walker, trained to tie, but usually not cross tied at track/training.
And they do tie, and that is taught when they are weanlings too.
And quit using your hand on side of halter, as if something happens? You will end up dragged, if not dead, and tie under chin not to the side of halter as when horse moves head, it makes halter move into eye on other side when you are tying.
I would imagine you are coming across as timid, or fearful to this horse and she is taking advantage of that more than anything.
Might also assess her feed, as it could be making her hotter too.
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