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Trainer Q&A - Trail Riding - How do I teach my horse to stand tied on a picket line when I take him camping?

How do I teach my horse to stand tied on a picket line when I take him camping?

Grace Asks:

Hi Christy:

Just got my first invitation for my horse and I am going on a riding/camping trip this Spring. They told me that all of the horses are tied to a picket line at the camp site and that my horse will need to learn her proper manners for the trip. Can you help me?

Thanks very much

Our Trainer Answers:

Before we can teach our horse to stand tied on the picket line, he must first understand how to stand patiently when tied for long periods of time.  Most of us do not tie our horses up for very long periods of time. When you are around the barn, take this time to teach your horse patience in being tied. When you are camping out with your horse and not riding, he will be standing tied on the picket line in his free time. Most horses enjoy the picket line, as it is a high line and allows them quite a bit of freedom and movement. When your horse is quite patient spending time tied up around the barn, take him outside and accustom him to being tied in the trees. Tie him high, above his withers, somewhere you can keep an eye on him and just let him stand for a few hours. This lesson will teach him respect for the lead rope and patience when things are going on in his surroundings.

Now it is time to tie him to the picket line. A picket line is a high line tied in the trees ( always use tree saving straps and make certain it is legal in your camping area ) or to tall poles at some trail riding facilities. I like to use the "knot eliminator" with a swivel design. (These can be purchased at most tack stores.) The "knot eliminator" simply is attached to the high line and, as its name implies, allows you a safe place to tie your horse without creating a knot in your picket line. I like to have my picket line at least 6 to 6 1/2 feet high and made of at least 5/8 inch nylon rope. (For safety I never tie my horses with a nylon lead rope, for they may cause severe rope burns if the horse gets his leg over the rope.)

Tie your horse to the ring on the "knot eliminator" and give him about 3 feet of lead line. Now allow him to familiarize himself with being tied in this manner. If your "knot eliminator" has the swivel, he will be able to walk around without twisting up his rope.  Allow him to spend a few hours each day tied on the picket line at home. When you are ready for your camping trip you can be confident that your horse will be waiting for you in the morning, safe and comfortably tied on the picket line.


Thank You and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington