Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pulling back

I knew we had a problem before, but it's just gotten worse. The last few days I've gone out, I've tied Bijou up to solid tie rails with good footing around them (short grass or rubber mats/dirt). She's wearing a triple thick nylon halter, I've done up the buckle so it can't break, and now she's ripping through 8 ft cotton leads like floss.

Today I 'triggered' her by walking up, picking up a curry, patting her on the neck, and beginning to curry. I got to a spot on her ribs, where I've brushed a hundred times before, no signs of discomfort or anything, and all of a sudden she's ripped through the lead rope and gone spinning the other direction. I calmly go grab her, tie the lead back together, and re-tie her.

Second time, I pull the saddle out of the tack room, walk over and set it on the tie rail about 3-4 ft away from her. She's fine with that part mostly, a little put off by it, I can tell because she leans back and gives it a little of an 'eye' and I stand there and make reassuring sounds at her. The reassuring sounds somehow don't do it for her, she hits the end of the lead, feels trapped? and then YANK off she goes with the other half of the lead dangling. This time she got so caught on her hind end, that when she snapped the lead sideways she slowly fell on her side, sat there for a second like "wow" and then got back up and started eating.

There've been a few times where she didn't pull hard enough to snap anything and ended up finally releasing and 'getting it' that if she just quit there was nothing to be afraid of. I've tried working on the 'head-down' cue but she's really tough. It takes me wrapping the lead under a leg and leaning on it in order for her to respond the first few times. Then she'll do it a few times, and all of a sudden we're back to square one. I release the second she gives in every time, but with this she's just not clueing in.

I'm really worried about this! I don't want to hurt her, or have her hurt herself. I try to give her the best footing I can so she won't flip, fall, slip etc. I don't like using methods that let them get away so I don't want to use baling twine. I've thought about getting a blocker type tie ring, but they're expensive and I don't know if it would work. I'm doing some research, any tips would be great.


  1. That's a tough one. You don't want to hurt her, but you don't want to teach her she can get away with it either...

    If it were my horse, I'd try two things, and probably in this order.

    First, I'd go ahead and buy the blocker tie ring. You can probably find one used for not too bad, or borrow one from somebody. Then find the longest lead rope I can (round cotton longe rope?) and just let her do her thing. Every time she goes flying back, let her go, and she ideally won't reach the end of the rope to get completely free. If she's going too easily then wrap the rope around twice so it's harder to pull through. Each time reel her back in after she's done, lather, rinse, repeat.

    If she didn't get the message, then I honestly think I would use what equipment it took to keep her from getting away. A sturdy tie post, a strong halter - it sounds like right now the weak link is your lead rope, so I'd buy a stronger one or use two or three of different lengths so she can bust one but then hits another. It's a bit last-ditch, but she does need to learn how to tie.

    Difficult issue, I'm sorry you are having to deal with it. Like I said, that's just what I would do - someone else might have a better idea. Good luck!

  2. Sorry your mares having problems. Unfortunately this is a problem I have to had to deal with A LOT. It can also be a very touchy subject with some people. I'll tell you right now it's not something to baby the horse over. You want to nip it right away.
    The goal here is to teach the horse that it's not going to die if it cannot escape at a seconds notice the moment it becomes uncomfortable.

    I made myself a few tie blocker rings for about 5$ each. I bought cheap loose ring bits. Make sure the rings are smaller than half the length of the bit so it cannot slide through. Then I got a firemans snap and snapped it onto the ring and then onto a ring on the wall. They work pretty well but a horse can walk away and move around far if it really wants to. However sometimes a horse needs to be tied securely for his own safety or yours.

    My pony was a chronic puller. He would launch himself back and have a fit if something upset him and eventually it became a habit that if someone walked by he would break whatever he was tied to just to get loose. He wasn't afraid of people. I could have ran up to him quickly and jumped up and down and he wouldn't have batted a lash. He just learned he could get out of doing things by pulling back.

    I would invest in a lead that has a knot to tie the snap on instead of metal keepers or loops and a good thick bull snap that she can't break. Then either A)Put the lead around her neck right behind the halter and put the end of the lead through the bottom of the noseband of the halter and then tie her. She won't break stuff then and learn that when she pulls back it's pretty uncomfortable.
    We used to have cows so I have a lot of old, very, very strong cow collars. I use one of those around the pullers neck behind the halter, snap the lead to it and then again run the lead through the halter. Never had a horse break it yet.
    With bad chronic pullers like my pony who would lean against things like ropes around his neck and especially halter (hes broke more halters than not but not in a long, long time)
    I used a belly rope. Pony needs to be tied because I drive him. I don't normally have anyone around to hold him still wile I hitch him so I had to take matters a step further. I got a long length of cotton rope, tied a loop in one end. I then put it around his belly right where the girth of a saddle would be and out between his front legs and then through his halter and tied it just after tieing his halter too. Of course within seconds he launched himself back only to launch forward again instantly relieving the pressure. The belly rope tightened when he pulled back, making it very uncomfortable to do so and loosened when he went forward and gave to pressure.
    Always remember to tie your horse to something sturdy and use equipment that won't break easily. Good luck.

  3. Geez how frustrating and a little scary. I second the suggestion for a tie-blocker ring. I have used one with Hampton (although he never tested it), and have heard great things about them and helping horses learn to tie. I have also seen some people use the belly rope idea although I can't remember if it was successful or not. I also had a friend who was fed up with her gelding always breaking ties. So one day, she got a few people together, each armed with pots and pans ... they tied the gelding, and when he pulled back everyone ran up behind him and banged those pots and pans together, making a loud and frightening noise. It took 3 rounds of this and the gelding quit pulling back. To me this seems like an unconventional approach, but it worked for her. lol. Does your mare ground tie?

  4. I forgot to mention I cut the bits in half at the join and re-weld where I cut to make my tie blocker rings.

  5. Hey - don't let the downers on COTH get to you. You are doing the right thing for your horse. I'm sure you will get the tying thing figured out!

  6. Thanks guys!! I'm really working on it, unfortunately Sydney, I don't have welding equipment, or I would love the DIY approach :)

    I'm planning a trip to the hardware store to buy a length of nylon rope (which I heard was best since it's slippery and will release fastest) which I will turn into a belly rope if things get bad.

    Karen, LOL I can just see the pot bangers now! That is definitely a different approach, but hey, if I get desperate enough I may resort to that. She is a 5 yr old TB with the attention span of a gnat, and a slight barn sourness, she does not ground tie unless grazing counts :( Thanks for the support!