Teaching a Horse About Cross Ties

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101 Arena Exercises
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
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Cross Tie Wiggle Worm

Dear Cherry:  

     I have purchased and read many of your books.....all of which are wonderful and have been a tremendous help to this novice horse lover/owner. My question now . . . can you give me some straightforward tips on teaching my young horse to stand quietly while being groomed, bathed, clipped, etc. She is usually in cross ties when I am grooming her, but she continually moves her hind end back and forth . . . . usually I wind up dancing with her the whole time I am grooming her. I believe the cross ties are the right "fit", although she moves forward and backward a little also. Any comments would be greatly appreciated!    J.

Hi J:  

     Before you put a horse in cross ties, she should have excellent ground manners on the end of a 10-foot lead rope. You should also be able to touch the horse all over without her moving while she is on the long lead rope.

     THEN, she should be tied to a solid hitch rail or post at a height at least as high as her withers. You should be able to move the horse back and forth from left to right so you can put each side of her body alongside the hitch rail. THEN do all of the things you will later do to your horse in cross ties -- clipping, grooming, handling legs etc. Do all things from both sides alternating which side of her body is alongside the hitch rail. Using the hitch rail to help steady her will help her make the association she should not move into you or away from you while you work.

     Eventually you want to be able to do all of these things with your horse standing perpendicular to the hitch rail. Once you can do that, without the horse moving, you are ready to move the horse into the cross ties . . . and NOT before!!

     Throughout all of the above lessons, make solid associations with voice commands so later when you progress to cross ties, the horse remembers what "whoa" means in spite of the fact that you are "stimulating" her reflexes with touching/grooming.

    It is a progression. Start with the simple things. Do them well. Then the more advanced things come easier.

    For more information, take a look at
Cross Tie Training. Best of luck.

Cherry Hill

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