Young Horse Series – Teaching to Tie

If you have an older horse that ties, tie him up first. Then tie your young horse near by. The rope should be tied short and high. If the rope is too long and/or too low he could get a foot over the lead rope and get hurt.
When you first tie him up do not leave him alone. Many horses will pull initially when they realize that they are tied up. The degree to which they pull varies greatly. If he does pull you need to be prepared to untie him if he gets into a wreck or falls down but do not untie him until he is in danger. He needs to learn that pulling is futile. If you release him when he is pulling he will learn that when he pulls you will untie him. This is what he wants so he will quickly put two and two together. If you wait until he stops pulling on his own then untie him he will also figure out that he was rewarded for not pulling.

Do not tie him for long periods. A few minutes at a time is enough. Try to make the time he is tied enjoyable for him. It is a good time for grooming or to be fed a little grain. Increase the time he spends tied as he becomes comfortable with it.
Do not always tie another horse beside him. He needs to know he is still ok to stand even though he may be alone. If he paws or paces initially do not worry about it. He is just trying to deal with a stressful situation. If you scold him for this it could be enough to push him into a scared tantrum. Over time most horses will just learn to stand quietly. Especially if you tie him up after a training session rather than before.

It is important not to introduce scary new things to your horse when it is standing tied. This could be overwhelming to him and you may be teaching him that when he is tied he gets scared. He is much more likely to start pulling when he is scared. Things should be introduced when he is free to move around. You can then re introduce things that he is comfortable with when he is tied.

Learning to stand tied is fundamental training that all horses should be comfortable with. The success you have teaching you horse this lesson will depend on the preparation you do. At some point you will need to tie your horse up, whether for the vet or farrier or there is no one around to hold him for you if you need to leave him. Do not take this lesson lightly as you are establishing now whether your horse will be safe to tie. If your horse is not safe to tie he could be a threat to himself and those around him.
© 2004 Will Clinging