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.
See how to teach a horse to tie up in my Foal Handling Online Clinic
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.