Pulling back when tied up


Last week, I read an article in an old issue of a prominent horse magazine on tying a horse for the first time. There were graphic photos of a terrified horse pulling back and fighting against a post. The article recommended the use of hobbles and 'special' headstalls while the horse pulled back.

Here's my reply:

Your magazine includes an article on tying a horse for the first time. The approach recommended can only be described as callous and cruel.

Tying a horse to a solid object and intentionally leaving him to pull back and fight is one of the worst things that can be done. About the only thing you could do to make the situation worse, is tie the horse's legs together at the same time. Unfortunately, this barbaric practice is also recommended in your article.

When a horse pulls back against a solid object, he's in terror and fight mode and he can't think in a logical manner. A horse in this situation isn't trying to get away, he's fighting against the pain around his head and ears.

All the horse has to do to relieve his pain is take one step forward. You know that, I know that, but a horse can't work it out. It's beyond the reasoning power of any horse. A horse can't reason that if he breaks the lead, he'll be free. Equally, he can't reason to take one step forward to relieve his pain.

When a horse pulls back against a solid object, the only thing he learns is to pull and fight and be terrified.

Your article also recommends using a severe rope headstall with knots designed to apply extra pressure around the horse's head and ears. These types of contraptions should have no place in horse training. There's never any need to apply extra pain to a horse's head and ears at any time, let alone when he's terrified and pulling back.

It's beyond my comprehension how anyone could recommend leaving a halter with a lead dragging on a horse. The lead can tangle around the horse's legs or snare on fences, trees or bushes and cause injury or even death. Just ask any vet who deals with horses.

If a horse understands to move forward from light pressure on his headstall, he won't pull back and fight. If you have to spend a week, a month or two months before a horse learns to step forward when he feels pressure on his headstall, surely it's a small price to pay.

It's time that everyone tried to train their horses with the least possible amount of pain and stress, rather than using archaic ideas that are obviously painful, cruel and terrifying for horses.

READ MORE ON THIS SUBJECT HERE: www.fearfreehorsetraining.com/blog/how-to-teach-your-horse-to-tie-up





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I agree. My horse Buddy HATES being tied up.. He pulls back & breaks his halter. So hence I don’t tie him up,, EVER.. I don’t know but I think that previously he has been treated cruelly. Buddy has got a few faults but I think its from the previous owners. So I’m trying to work through them with him.. I am just reading your site as I seen it in Horse Deals. If your book can give me guidance to train my horse I will purchase it. I just have to read more.. Thanks

Scheryl July 8th, 2014

Thanks Scheryl,

Your horse has obviously been taught to fight when he’s tied. Hope you find your book helpful. Especially the sections on horses pulling back.

Regards Neil

Neil Davies May 12th, 2014

Certainly agree with your comment re pulling back. I find the best exercise to teach yield to pressure is done in a small round yard or a 4 x 4 stall. Stand at near shoulder, use a 4 m lead. Pass the lead along the off side of horse and round behind. Then whilst standing on the near side take a firm hold and wait. Most horses will quickly yield to the pressure and walk around and to you. This is repeated both sides and the horse quickly learns that the way out of pressure is to walk towards it. I start at weaning and do this for some time before considering tying up. To test the response simply stand in front at about 30degrees and apply tension on the lead and hold and wait. Again one step forward is all that is needed. Biggest mistake is not giving when you get one step forward but immediately asking for more.

Peter Allan May 5th, 2014

Thanks Peter,
Yes, you must teach the horse to move forward before he’s tied. It’s always best to teach every horse one step at a time. You can watch some youtube videos here http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCygJcDBKqOKDYt6xFUzxypQ that show teaching a foal to move forward before being tied. There’s also a very detailed explanation in my book.


Neil Davies May 12th, 2014

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