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Trainer Q&A - Ground Work (with/without Round Pen) - Is it possible to train my 10 year old mare to tie, when she always freaks out?

Is it possible to train my 10 year old mare to tie, when she always freaks out?

Lnmiller Asks:

I have an AQHA mare who is now 10 years old, I've had her since she was 7. I suspect mistreatment with the man who owned her before me because when I went to try her out, you could tell he was very inexperienced with horses. He had her on 1/2 an acre of land, no pond, no grass growing, mud up to her knees, I couldn't see any form of shelter, her water trough was bone dry and he said he only feeds her 1/3 coffee can full of feed a day. When he went to catch her she had no halter on and he just took the bridle out to catch her with and was walking straight in front of her trying to shove the bit in. I got tired of watching her run from him and how he was treating her and I went out there and caught her myself in less then 1/2 the time it was taking him to try and catch her.

None the less, I bought her to get her out of that situation. I got her back to a good weight before I started working with her from the saddle because she was skin and bones when I got her. But to this day I cannot tie her up. She freaks out, even if she just steps on her lead rope and feels the tug. She freaks out and goes completely crazy and will start backing up and rearing up fast and it takes a lot to get her under control again. I've tried tying her up before and she does the same thing and it's resulted in broken lead ropes and gates pulled off the hinges. I'm afraid she's going to hurt me, someone else, or herself, so I don't tie her up. I don't always have someone with me so most of the time I have to manage holding her lead rope and trying to keep her still and keep her from stepping on the rope while brushing her and saddling her up. It gets really frustrating but I don't know what else to do. Is there any way I can pull her out of this fear of being tied up and get her to where she will stand tied patiently?


Our Trainer Answers:

I would love to tell you that this is easy to cure, however the truth of the matter is that your mare has learned that she does NOT have to stand tied. Whether this began out of fear or mistreatment, or possibly due to lack of knowledge during training is not relevant at this point. Safety is our first concern. Horses are, and always will be, creatures of habit. Your mare has made it a habit of panicking when she feels pressure from the halter. This will be very difficult to fix. The only recommendation that I can make for your safety and the safety of your mare, is to purchase a "Blocker tie ring" designed by Clinton Anderson.  This can be purchased at Downunderhorsemanship.com. This tie ring allows the horse to learn that tying up is nothing to panic about. However, whether your mare is capable of learning after all the years of getting away with this behavior is questionable. Follow the directions included in the tie ring and please let me know how  your progressing.

 

Thank you and Happy Trails!

Christy Mellington