Teach Your Horse to Stand Tied

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Tied Horse
Q: My mare constantly paws at the ground as soon as I walk away from her. I have tried leaving her tied until she stops, but it never works. What can I do to stop her?

A: Pawing the ground is a clear sign of impatience and frustration on the horse’s part. Initially, horses paw because they want or need something: they don’t want to stand tied, or they want their grain faster. However, once a horse has been allowed to paw over a long period of time, it often becomes an ingrained habit that no longer has any specific cause.

The best way to teach a horse to tie well is through practice. You need to keep your horse tied up until she no longer paws. Believe me, she can’t paw forever, but she’ll do a good job of making you think she can. I tie my horses for at least four hours a day, every day. Many times, they stay tied all day long. It doesn’t matter if they’re good, bad or indifferent; they all get tied up.

Oftentimes, a horse that paws when tied up does so because he knows he’s going to get attention. What usually happens is that when the horse paws, someone comes out to stop him, or even untie him. He begins to think that he’s controlling their actions and getting what he wants by pawing. Think of your horse like a little kid throwing a fit for attention. Every time she’s rewarded for her behavior, the problem just gets worse. That’s why it’s best to just ignore her when she paws and teach her to stand tied with patience.

Tying a horse up for long periods of time accomplishes many important things in your training. I have a little saying: “End each training session by tying your horse up to the tree or post of knowledge.” When you tie your horse up after a training session, it teaches her respect and patience while giving her a chance to think about and absorb what you have just taught her.

The very last thing you want to do after a training session is get off your horse, take her back to the barn, unsaddle her, hose her off, and put her in her stall to eat. This puts your horse’s focus more on getting back to the barn and eating than on thinking about her job. If you get into the habit of tying your horse up for two to three hours after you ride, she won’t be in such a hurry to get back to the barn.

Some people will read this and think that I’m being cruel to the horse. But what’s the difference between your horse standing still in a stall or standing still tied up? The difference to me is that if she’s standing tied, she could be thinking about you and what you’ve just taught her. I guarantee that in the stall, she’s not thinking about you at all.

If you want your horse to tie well, you have to practice and teach her patience. If you practice it every day, it just becomes a natural part of your horse’s routine.

Liked this article? Here’s more from Clinton Anderson:
Video: Backing for Respect
On Board with Clinton Anderson at the World Equestrian Games

Clinician CLINTON ANDERSON owns and operates Downunder Horsemanship in Stephenville, Texas, where his method of horsemanship has helped to transform the relationships between thousands of horses and riders. He also hosts two training programs that air weekly on Fox Sports Net and RFD-TV. www.downunderhorsemanship.com


This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

9 COMMENTS

  1. Imy way is learn horse to stand silence and tied to first tied them for a while( one-five minutes) and i’ m beside them and speak low and say ‘ stay” and get him/her little peace carrot or bread piece. Second day same and when few days has gone well i begin to ofcourse stan still relax and speak slow and allways it stand without no stress i give some piece some good and when horse has learn stand a while i begin to look forward. Allways when it turn to ask me some food i say “stand forward” and at once when it does’nt turn to beg for You something And look forward You give some good.
    Every one has learn stand relax, and i move one day away horse one meter, second day four meter and imediatly come to horse and say good boy/girl.and touch gently it.
    Horse learn very quickly ( one week) the system and begin to trust to You . This is my way 🙂

  2. As an equine veterinarian I completely agree with this concept and training method. I learn a lot from Clinton Anderson! One consideration that was not mentioned however is that a horse should be allowed to have her head, and specifically, lower her head, for at least 15 min for at the most every four hours that her head is tied. Keeping a horse’s head tied for extended periods of time does not permit the natural clearing mechanisms for the respiratory tract and can subsequently predispose the horse to lower respiratory tract disease. When a horse’s head is down and they make the classic nose blowing sound, this is actually a physical and physiologic method of clearing pathogens and debris from the respiratory tract that is a necessary behavior for horse health.

  3. THIS IS A GOOD ARTICLE, I LEARNED FROM A MEXICAN FRIEND OF MINE WHO DID THIS ALL THE TIME AND IT WORKS SO I HAVE DONE THIS FOR YEARS.

  4. I know this is an older article, but I have to say it was lacking an important step – how and when to reward your horse by setting him free of the patience pole.

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