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Tieing Around: Lesson learned: Response from pressure

By LES VOGT / Horsetrader columnist - August 19th, 2010 - More with Les

Next in a series
Last issue, we learned how rein position can make a difference. Now we’ll look at tieing around to let him figure out what works best in response to pressure from the bit.

The goal of tieing a horse around is to get him used to giving his neck and to teach him that resistance against the bit is not going to accomplish much for him. It’s a good way to let him figure out the best response to pressure from the bit without him being able to blame you for his discomfort. If the horse is particularly stiff to one direction, there’s nothing wrong with tieing him off to that side every day until he loosens up.

Make sure the rein goes under the crease of this shoulder.

A general comment whenever you are doing this is that you always want to start with the reins really loose. You can always tighten it up as you go, but if you start too tight the horse can get really scared, and you’ll end up with a wreck. When you first tie a horse around to the side you’ll want to tie the off rein first, that is, the rein he will be turning away from. Make sure it will have enough slack to accommodate the turn to the other direction and then wrap the rein around the cinch and tie it off. It should lie right below the crease of the horse’s shoulder. Then you’ll want to take the direct rein back to the back cinch ring (on the saddle) and tie it up snug enough that the horse’s head is turned to the side a little, but not so tight that he’s going to lose his balance or panic. If you were to think of a clock, and straight ahead was noon, you’d want him tied at about 10 o’clock or 2 o’clock, depending on the direction. However to start, you might aim more for 11 o’clock and 1. Also, make sure you pick a place with soft ground so he won’t scrape himself up too bad if he does go down. As he gets used to the concept you can bring him around a little tighter, but you don’t want to overdo it and risk an panic attack or injury by trying to do too much at once.

Once I have the reins tied I’ll step away from the horse and start clucking to him. Unlike some folks, I want to keep my horses moving when I have them tied around. I want them to start respecting the limits that the bit is putting on their movement and what they have to do to accommodate it. When you leave one just standing there, oftentimes you’ll come back and he’ll just be leaning on the bridle – and that’s sure not a lesson I want him to learn – just the opposite. So I’ll keep him moving so he bumps that bridle and learns how to stay away from it.

In the video material we’ve included a really good segment with a young horse getting tied around for the first time. I encourage you to watch it a few times before you try it on your own.

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