By Ellie Riley
One of the scariest things a horse owner can experience is a panicked horse while it is tied in cross ties. Visions of a horse flipping over backwards, falling down, or pulling away and bolting, is enough to make any responsible horseman take the necessary steps to provide a safe place for tied horses. Rather than using miles of baling twine on every tie anchor, the Tie Safe Cross Tie
is a safe, economic, and very useful choice for horses of any age and level of training.
Here is a simple step-by-step method for teaching young horses that keeps both the horse and the trainer safe.
In this particular case, we are teaching a three year old Selle Francais gelding who was pasture kept and relatively unhandled until a few months ago. He is in for training and has had to learn a variety of ground manners and barn life in general. He is a very large seventeen hand young horse. His safety, as well as the safety of the handlers is always the priority, and the reason we use Tie Safe Cross Ties for all of our young horses.
- Install a set of Tie Safe Cross Ties with the large panic snap attached to the anchor, leaving the trigger snap and the touch tape end to attach to the horse. Adjust the ties according to the width of your cross-tie space. When properly adjusted, you should be able to barely clip the ends of the two ties together with no horse present.
- Make sure your young horse is comfortable walking into, turning around in, and standing quietly in the cross tie space before attaching any ties. This comes with practice, reassurance, and rewards for standing quietly. We prefer to simply use the term "stand" when asking young horses to remain still for grooming, tacking and handling.
- Attach one side of the Tie Safe Cross Tie to the horse's halter, while a handler stands on the other side with lead rope attached. Once the horse is standing quietly, this is a great time to have someone groom, tack, pick up feet, and walk around all sides of the tied horse, eventually adding the presence of a hose and running water to teach them to stand for bathing. With one side tied, but a handler with lead shank on the other side, the feeling of being cross-tied is mimicked while still allowing the handler to redirect the attention or the movement of the young horse should it be needed. This is usually only necessary for a couple of sessions and the young horse will learn that the cross-ties are a safe and secure place to be handled while remaining relatively still. Making these first few sessions a positive experience for the horse are of utmost importance. Never rush through this process.
- Attach both sides of Tie Safe Cross Ties to the halter, with a handler standing at the horse's head while another goes about the usual routine. By now, the horse should be used to standing in the space and the handler at the horse's head is just there for reassurance and reinforcement of good behavior. Slowly have the handler "come and go" around the horse while the horse gets used to activity around him while standing cross-tied. It is particularly important to lift and drop the cross-ties while ducking under them and let the horse hear the sound of the tie banging against the wall several times as it would when being untied to walk away. This is the step where the inexperienced horse is most likely to get nervous and perhaps try to get away. The beauty of the Tie Safe Cross Ties is that if the horse was to pull back, or bolt through the ties, the panic inducing pressure is released when the touch tapes peel away, safely releasing the horse, most likely saving your halter leather and leaving you with a short lead still attached to the horse in order to be safely caught. The amount of force it requires to release the touch tapes is enough so that the horse doesn't learn to run through the ties, but in an emergency, will protect the horse from injury without the typical "snap back" of a bungee tie or flying metal snaps from a traditional nylon tie breaking or having the panic snaps released.
- Slowly increase the variety of movements and activities performed around the horse when cross-tied: Have horses walk back and forth. Have him move his haunches over while tied, working up to being able to move the horse laterally from the shoulder or girth area while tied. Add other sounds and sensory experiences like clippers and spraying with water hoses slowly and soon you will have a confident horse who stands safely and reliably in cross ties.
Teaching young and inexperienced horses to cross tie safely is an important part of their training in order produce solid citizens who can be safely handled in a variety of circumstances. Tie Safe Cross Ties
can safely streamline the learning process for both horse and handlers and are used daily in the barns of many top riders and trainers.