If you want to tie your horse in the trailer, they should be prepared for this without the trailer. In the US it is more common to teach your horse to be tied than in the Netherlands. During my education with Parelli, however, I saw the benefit of teaching your horse to totally accept being tied for a while. A horse is a living creature AND a prey animal. Fear, spooking, reacting, fleeing will always remain a subject we will have to work on continuously. What we as humans can do for them, is to help them from birth not to listen to their instinct, but to get them so mentally ‘fit’ that they are not run by their emotions. This is the best solution for more safety, less accidents, etc. It does require a lot of knowledge, skills and focus from the human.
You can get it so good as to where your horse ‘thinks’: “aha, I am tied. I know from experience that everything is OK. Let’s see how long it will take this time for my owner to untie me again. In the mean time … relax ”. You don’t get here by just tying your horse to any object, in just any location and pray all goes well. This is how it is often done, unfortunately, and this is how many foals, young horses and adult horses end up hurt or even dead. Share this article with as many people as you can. The solution to preventing so many accidents, is so simple.
First of all, what not to do:
1. Tie knots; too dangerous
2. Use elastic ropes; they do not provide a quick release
Tips how to do it positively:
- Start in a safe place and stay close to keep an eye on the situation
- No knots, but one wrap
- In case your horse pulls back, close your hands, but allow the rope to slide. This way there will be just enough resistance. Not too much for your horse might panic, but also not too little for then your horse will be loose immediately.
- Use a long, good rope; at least 12′ long, maybe longer.
- Use a rope halter. Web halters are not suitable for
teaching to yield to pressure.
Repeat this during a few sessions
until it goes really well,
even with scary things going on around you, or with scary objects in your hand. Next step would be to to tie your horse. You stay around, but still don’t use knots!! Now you can wrap the rope around the pole (something sturdy) three times.
Most important here is the moment you untie/release your horse or give him comfort. This is the moment where they learn. Is it going well for a short time in the beginning, then untie them again, before they will try something else. For example, if they start pawing or calling their buddies, that would not be the right moment to untie them. Sometimes it can take a while, but wait for your horse to calm down again AND reward that by untying them.
Eventually your horse will become calm while being tied and will learn to accept it as a safe and comfortable place to be. Stay alert however. If you leave them, be aware of what could happen in the meantime. Without knots, however, your horse can get himself untied and find a spot nearby to graze a little. Add a few extra wraps for more resistance, but anything is better than your horse learning (subconsciously) to pull and break a halter when he panics.
Not everybody will be able to use a suitable tree like we can (see the pictures underneath), where we can tie hem high and they can move around underneath. I was able to calm many impatient, persistent horses with the help of this tree.