Teaching A Horse To Ground Tie

Most horses are capable of learning to tie. However, not all bridles will allow you to ground tie effectively. In this article we will look at some pointers that can help you and your horse teach a horse to ground tie with a halter.

Ground tying is a horse training method that consists of creating an association between the ground and a food reward in order to obtain the behavior of standing still while untethered. A horse that knows this skill has greater freedom of movement when left alone, both in terms of its ability to graze and explore its environment, and also in terms of being able to calmly respond to potential dangers such as approaching people, other animals or vehicles. Ground tie is also a piece of equipment used in rope horse handling, including western horse packing and roping.

Teaching a horse to ground tie is a great way to keep your horse safe and sound.

Ground tying is also called “posting,” and it involves the horse standing still in one place without any need for restraint. By teaching your horse how to ground tie, you’ll give yourself and your horse more freedom to move around without worrying about whether or not you’ve got the right amount of rope or how close you are to the nearest tree.

It’s important that you start with a very young horse because this skill will take some time for them to learn, but once they’ve got it down pat, it should be easy enough for them from then on out!

Here’s what you need:

  • A halter with a lead rope attached (if your horse already knows how to lead, skip this step)
  • A post or rail that’s sturdy enough for your horse to lean against while tying itself up
  • Some tasty treats (horses love these!)

Ground tying is a useful skill for horses to learn, as it can make them much easier to handle.

Here are the steps to teaching your horse to ground tie:

Step 1: Make sure you have plenty of rope and an area with soft dirt or grass.

Step 2: Tie the rope to a tree or post that is at least 6 feet from the ground. This will give your horse enough room to stand up if they want to move around.

Step 3: Slowly walk up to your horse and show them the rope in your hand. Let them sniff it and rub their nose against it if they want to investigate it further. This will help them associate the rope with something positive and fun!

Step 4: Once they have had enough time inspecting the rope, slowly pull on it until they are standing on all four feet, making sure not to pull too hard or fast so that they don’t feel scared or uncomfortable while doing this exercise (this could cause them to become nervous around ropes in general!). When they are standing on all four feet with their head stretched out towards you (not pulled back), gently tug at one end of the rope so that it makes contact with their nose – this should cause

Teaching A Horse To Ground Tie

What Is Ground Tying?

Ground tying is when a horse stands in the place you ask him to stand without being tied to anything and he doesn’t move away.

It is an exercise I teach every horse I train and it can be an important part of building our relationship together.  Some people say it shows obedience, however, I prefer to think of it in terms of us developing an understanding, learning to speak the same language, and creating a bond where we understand each other.

When a horse learns to ground tie it tells me we have learned to communicate and developed a mutual trust and respect.  I feel at this point we have developed a sincere bond where my horse is comfortable to be in a place of peace while patiently standing.

Prior to teaching your horse to ground tie you will need to teach your horse to stand still.  Before teaching any horse to do an exercise like this I make sure they are strong candidates in halt, walk, and back up.

Make sure you are confident in the basics before asking your horse to ground tie.

These are also the 3 prerequisites to the 9 basic groundwork exercises I start with (you can get these for free when you apply on the form at the bottom of this page). 

Equipment

You will need to use a rope halter with a 12 foot or 15 foot training rope. The training rope has a loop end that connects to the loop in the rope halter. Never use a metal clip to connect a rope to a training halter as this can cause pain when used and could make the horse head shy.

Teaching Your Horse To Stand Still

Using just your halter and rope ask your horse to stand squarely on an even surface.

Stand in front of your horse slightly to one side and facing him. Make sure you are not standing directly in front of your horse in case he takes off going forward.

Once you feel comfortable that your horse will stand when you move away, stay holding the rope and move a couple of steps backwards and further away from the horse as you progress in the exercise.

This is teaching your horse not to rely on your physical presence to stand.  It will teach him to make the decision to stand by himself.

Ask your horse to stand quietly

Hold the training rope with plenty of slack (no tension or direct contact with the horse).   I ask the horse to stand and gradually back away a couple of steps with the rope remaining slack and stand with the new distance between us. 

If the horse attempts to move when I move I use soft tones and ask my horse to remain standing, I don’t continue to move away until the horse seems to be happy to stand again.

Your horse will probably not understand what you mean at first so you will correct him, showing him what you want by flicking your wrist from side to side (some trainers use an up and down motion but I prefer side to side as it is less likely to make a nervous horse head shy). The flicking of the wrist will send a wave through the rope towards your horse.

A second method, which is the one I usually use, is to swing the rope round and round in the direction of the horse until it is standing where you want it to be and then you stop.

If your horse tries to take a step, correct and ask your horse to stand again

NOTE: When your horse moves, correct him immediately.

Continue working with your horse in this manner until he stands still for several minutes without a correction.

Gradually stand farther and farther away from your horse, until you reach the end of the long lead allowing the lead rope to loop and touch the ground directly below the horses head.  The rope will run along the ground to your hand.

Practice moving from side to side, making sure your horse doesn’t move and correcting him if he does.

When I start a horse on this exercise I always do it where I plan to cross tie them, this way they get comfortable in a space they are going to be using a lot.  Continual reinforcement in the same place will also help your horse get your horse used to the pattern of communication between you. 

Move further away from your horse with the rope on the ground, encouraging your horse to remain still

Your horse learns to recognize the expectations from you and it eventually becomes second nature.

Getting Your Horse to Ground Tie

Once your horse is responding correctly and knows how to stand still you can drop the rope end you have been holding.  Stay where close enough for you to pick it up should your horse try to move away.

When you are confident your horse is happy standing still without moving while the rope is on the ground you can walk towards him, then back away again, then left and right.  All the time the horse should remain still.  Administer corrections and repeat again if he moves.

It is rare for a horse to learn to do this in one session so be prepared to make this training a part of your daily routine for a while.

When you feel your horse is standing without you holding the rope, carefully walk around your horse with the rope on the ground.  Be ready for a mistake and be prepared to correct your horse and encourage it to remain in the same place.  Patience, as always, is key!

Testing with the walk away.

Now it’s time to test your horse a bit more. Position the lead rope so it hangs down from your horse’s halter and lay the excess on the ground. Slowly walk a few steps away from him and stop.

Walk quietly around your horse while the rope is on the ground

If your horse takes a step move quietly to the lead rope and patiently correct him. Lead your horse back to his original location. Repeat this exercise until he stands still when you walk a few steps away.

Gradually increase your distance until you can walk away from him in any direction and he doesn’t move.

Increase the time your horse will stand ground-tied by practicing this exercise when you groom and tack up.  Test him frequently; look for opportunities to ground-tie him, even if only for a minute.

Ultimately once you and your horse have mastered the above you should be able to walk away and do other things close to him, such as get your tack, etc. and know that he will remain in the same place.  Your horse at this point should trust you and know that you have placed him in a position where he feels safe and he has no reason to leave.

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