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Ground Tying
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Ground Tying

Teaching a horse to ground tie is a valuable asset which will make tying him up so much easier. It is not easy or fun trying to groom, bathe, or tack up a horse that is dancing around while being tied up. When a horse doesn't respect a person, they feel that their "playtime" with their buddies outside has been interrupted and they try to make it clear that they want to get back out there. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you teach your horse to respect you, he will focus on you and forget about what he's missing outside.

The best tool to start with is the Dually halter, a special training halter that has a second rope noseband that slides through the side rings. The purpose of this halter is to apply pressure, and not pain, on the horse's nose, and when the horse steps toward the pull, the pressure is released and he gets his reward. Work with the horse in hand, getting him to walk forward and backward, responding to the pull. Reward him generously by releasing the pressure each time he gets it right. It will take a few repetitions until the horse moves willingly without so much pressure on the rope. This also teaches the horse to respect your space. 

Once the horse is responding well to the halter, the next step is to get him to drop his head to the ground. Put pressure on the rope to get him to lower his head a few inches. He might not understand and will pull hard against you, but don't release it until he softens and drops his head ever so slightly. After a few times, it will be easier and you can ask him to go lower. This step is very important in case he steps on the lead rope while being "ground tied" and scares himself when he feels that he is trapped. Since I have worked on this with my mare so many times, if she happens to step on her lead rope, she automatically lowers her head to release the pressure.

When you start to teach him to ground tie, keep it short and simple and don't set him up to fail, i.e. no loose horses running around, or going in or out, etc. Stand him in the aisle while you groom and/or tack him up. You can drape the rope loosely over your arm as you work around him in case he might decide to leave. Each time he moves a foot, bring it right back to where it was. (If he moved forward one step, back him up one step; or if he moved back one step, move him forward one step.) This will happen a few times, but don't give up. If he moves more than one step repeat the lesson from the beginning with the Dually halter, as you will be "putting him to work" for this behavior. Back him up three or four steps and move him forward three or four steps, repeating about four times. Every time you put him back to where he was, leave him alone and go back to what you were doing when he moved. After a few times he will realize that it is easier to stand still than to keep moving, and then he has learned to ground tie.

This may take longer with some horses than others, especially if some were never taught to respect humans, but if you are persistent and consistent it will happen. Gradually you will be able to walk away from him as he is standing. Once he is a pro at standing still without being tied up, if you ever need to tie him up, he should not move. I can leave my mare standing at one end of the barn near the open door while I go to the tack room at the other end, and she will still be right where I left her when I go back.  I rarely tie her up at all because she knows not to move.

Good luck and happy riding!

 

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Leave a Comment

  1. Rene Wright
    Rene Wright
    Awesome tips! I think I'll begin this with my mare. :) Voted. Please check out my blogs. Vote & comment if you like any. Thanks!
    Log in to reply.
    1. Nancy Richards
      Thanks! I'll check them out :)
      Log in to reply.
  2. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Some great advice here, very helpful. Please check out my latest blog, The Horror of Horse-Racing, you might find it an eye-opener.
    Log in to reply.

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