Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bits and Pieces

I love blogging. I have had more fun writing this thing, and it tickles me the way it has evolved.
The best part has been being able to talk about horses. I can always talk about horses.
I had no idea I would be led down this path. I started Mugwump Chronicles as a therapeutic way to sort out my very mixed emotions about horse training.
I picked a blog because I've never been consistant with journaling, and I love writing. I hoped a few people would start reading it, and that would keep me going.
Wow. Talk about meeting new people.

I love the anonymity of blog writing. We present the front we choose. Everybody who participates shares only what they feel comfortable giving away. Since we all write about horses on this one, we share only that. Our love for horses. Perfect.

I try my best to be dead on with my stories. To keep it simple, I only write about events I can verify.
This approach has helped me see how the horses I have been lucky enough to ride, have truly shaped who I am as a person.

I have gotten to know some of you through your writing too. It makes for great reading. I get to see the joy of training through the eyes of a young, up and coming eventer. I have grudgingly begun to respect a NH'er from South Dakota. I still think it's time for her to leave the affected trappings she's been loaded with and start thinking for herself, but that's part of the fun.
And then there's Fugs. Blazing hot, passionate, pretty pissy, and out there. A much needed voice for the protection of the animals we love so much. I wouldn't miss her for the world.

Sucking Back, Rotten Little Monsters.

I have had an inquiry about horses that pull back, and won't stand tied. This is a nasty, wicked habit, that drives me crazy.
I use a sturdy rope halter, and a lead without a snap, so it won't break. I also make sure my safety knot will release, even if the horse is flopped on the ground. I keep a pocket knife with me, in case everything goes straight to hell, and I have to cut Fluffy, or Princess loose.

To my mind, there are two types of lead rope busters.
1. This type of horse is frantic about being tied, period. This usually starts when the horse is initially tied. She fights the rope, the halter or lead rope breaks, and Bingo!, little Fluffy is free.
When the rope breaks, Fluffy usually falls over backwards, and is hurt. So, of course, being a horse, Fluffy connects the pain with being tied, not behaving like a bonehead. The problem escalates, and pretty soon, you have a horse terrified of being tied. Every time they break a halter or lead rope, it encourages them to fight even harder the next time.

2. This horse is OK until you try to do something. Saddling, picking up a foot, putting on a bridle, etc. The added confinement starts the reaction, and pretty soon Princess is flailing at the end of the rope. Soon, Princess associates the activity with the pain of fighting the rope, and once again feels blameless in causing the commotion.

I have a few ways I handle this.
Horse # 1, Fluffy, needs to learn to accept restraint
First I make sure Fluffy will give to pressure when I move or lead him. I pull, Fluffy gives, I release, you know the drill.
I have a big, soft 40 foot rope I use on horses that don't tie or load. I tie it on my rope halter. I lead Fluffy to a tall fence, and wrap the rope around the rail once. Fluffy has about 6 feet of give.
The rest of the rope is on the other side of the rail.
The rail needs to be sturdy enough to hold the horse no matter what.
The rope is not tied, only wrapped once.
When Fluffy hits the end of the rope and sucks back, I'll let him. I won't holler whoa. I don't pet them, or soothe them. Ever. I'll do that after Fluffy stands tied.
I'll let the rope play out. Remember, there's another 30 feet or so of rope to play with.
I have never had a horse run out of rope. He's always stopped after 15 or 20 feet.
Then I reel Fluffy back in, and wait.
When Fluffy stands without flipping out for a few minutes, I quit for the day.
Eventually, Fluffy quits sucking back.
Then I actually tie them, and walk away.
I leave them tied until they are quiet, then I put them up.
I haven't killed one, and they've all learned to stand tied.
But, they will pitch a fit. If you can't handle this, get help.

Horse #2. Princess actually has an issue with me doing stuff while she's tied. So I'll teach her to saddle, bridle, etc., while untied. Then I tie her. Eventually, I'll tie her first, and then do whatever is bothering her.

As always, this is how I would handle it. I learned my techniques from horses I've ridden, trainers I've worked with, books I've read, and lots of thinking.
Good luck, and get help if you need it. Go Slow. Be smart.


  1. I loved today's blog. If you like mysteries you'd like Patricia Cornwell's books (probably already read her). And I really love Tony Hillerman's series. Set on the Big Res in the southwest his main detectives are reservation police. I love his stories.

    I liked your info about horses that pull back. Very good training advice there. Thankfully mine spooks in place and never really goes anywhere. Now on the hotwalker, that's another deal and we're still working on it. Well we will be when I bring him back home from being out to pasture (he's with a bunch of broodmares and thinks he's died and gone to heaven)

  2. I'm not a big fan of Patricia Cornwell myself. I thought her "expose" of Jack the Ripper was badly researched and badly presented. "Case Closed", indeed.

    Mugwump, you like the old-style, 1930s/1940s detective novels? I recommend Jonathan Latimer and Fredric Brown though they may be hard to find. And for just fun reads, the Rex Stout books about Nero Wolfe.

    I have a horse who learned in the winter (when snow was sliding off the indoor roof) that pulling back was fun. Of course, I thought he was bothered by the noise (though the same noise didn't seem to make a bit of difference if he was standing in his stall.

    When he started doing it during the spring with no snow, I realized it was a game for him. He used any excuse: a stall door was opened, oh my GOD!

    They had bungee cord crossties at the barn I board at, and after he completely stretched a set out (backing up about 15 feet) and having the rebound nearly put out the glass in the tackroom door when they finally gave, I started tacking him up in his stall.

    I recently went back to tying him and he hasn't shown an inclination to do it again.

  3. Joy,

    I just reread my post and I sounded really bitchy about Patricia Cornwell, and I didn't mean to! I've read a couple of her books, but I never warmed to her. No reason for the snittiness towards you though!

    I actually have a personal reason for not liking her - though I've not met her: someone I am step-related to does know her (and talks incessantly about her) and I REALLY don't like HER. :D

    Anyway, I haven't read the Tony Hillerman books, I'll have to check them out.

  4. Stephanie Plum does nto stand a CHANCE in this house! Dear HUsband and I practically go to war over who gets to read it first! Janet evanovich is a blast... and Laura Crum is excellent as well!!

    Great reviews here, Mugwump! Great advice too ;)

  5. I love reading and have a HUGE library of books, mostly horse and biology books.

    About the tieing thing. I know I mentioned it before but i'll say it again. I HATE with a fiery hot passion when people do not teach their horses to tie before they can break shit! They get big enough and old enough and haven't had enough sacking out and they panic and break shit or people or themselves, every damn time.
    I am training a pony to drive right now. Hes got an issue with the noise of the cart. He has learned with his owners who were trying to train him that he can get away and run blindly in fear. It's dangerous for all handlers and himself. He quickly learned with me that my stuff don't break. Good ol hand made rope halters and bull snaps.

  6. Love the long rope option, Mugwump. Thanks for that idea.

    I'm a fan of neck ropes and butt ropes for teaching horses to tie, too. You have to be careful about a few things, though:

    -the type of rope you're using

    -whether or not you tie a bowline knot correctly (back AWAY from neck ropes and butt ropes if you do not know how to properly tie this knot)

    -the length of the respective ropes when you tie to a post (the horse MUST hit the butt rope first if it starts to pull back)

  7. Good post, now I have lots of recommended books to read! (yes I am a bookworm)

    Mugs here is my situation. Our Appy ties but you can NOT tie him in the trailer. He has broken about 6 (or could be 5 or 7) of those bungee trailer ties. Not his halter, not the snaps, the actual bungee part.
    However he loads fine, close the divider and leave him. He trailers fine. Get to your destination and open the divider he'll turn around and come to the trailer door, wait for you to take the leadrope and tell him to step down and he unloads.
    I don't know if tying him makes him claustrophobic or what. Or new system works well though.

    If you're looking for new blogs to read I'd be honored if you check mine out :)

    ps - what was the title of that first Laura Crum book?

  8. You're fun, I like reading your blog :) I get really good training insights, incredibly engaging horse stories, and it really stimulates the intellectual side of my horse passion.

    I can't wait to see where you go with this whole writing thing. It's been exciting to see you go from "Well, I don't know..." to "Hmm, I kind of like the idea..." to actually giving serious thought to making it work. I will happily read any book you put out!

  9. Another excellent post! I sorely regret causing a horse to pull back when tied. It was a complete accident, really, but I still feel terrible for not fixing it after it happened. I was learning how to use a set of clippers and didn't make sure the extension cord was grounded. The clippers shocked my horse in the nose and he pulled back on the crossties, ripping the buckles right through his nylon halter until it came off. (thank dog he didn't go up and over!) Every time we tried to tie him after that, he'd panic until he broke his halter or we untied him. I was just a kid at the time, and I sold him not long afterwards, but I still wish I had done something to cure him of it while I could. =(

    And I like the fact that I've made enough of an impression to be listed on the front page of your blog! Well, I think I do... Oh, hell, I don't know! I'll take it as a compliment, anyway. =) I will say that I'm far from being a sheep. In fact, I get in WICKED trouble on the PNH forums sometimes because I ask too many questions... of the wrong kind! =)

    Oh, and out of curiosity... Am I the only one who checks this page 2-3x per day, hoping to see a new post? Surely I can't be the ONLY one! Keep up the blogs, mugs, I love them!

  10. I never knew how to tie until I found my “NH” mentors. Now I know and I don’t tie in certain situations unless I know the horse can tie. Better not to start something bad if you aren’t sure. Took me about a year before I was sure that Buena would tie. I worked on it for months before we went on a camping trip where I knew our only option for camping was tying to the trailer. Now, I no longer worry. Ideally, I would have started on a highline, but I didn’t and still don’t have a good setup for that. Need to get something sorted out before my weanling fillies get here...soon.

  11. Here's one for you Mugs, what if they only pull back if they really scare themselves?

    Totally fine tying under normal conditions. Totally fine tying in stressful conditions (i.e. at a show). Fine for tacking up, grooming, whatever.

    But if they put their head down then raise it up under the rope and get the rope over their ear, they panic and flip out. Solution? Just let them figure it out, or make them give to rope pressure on the head (rope over poll, I pull down, you relax head down)?

    Can you do anything for the horse that, once it's badly spooked, pulls hard until something snaps?

    Just hypothetical, since I've never actually dealt with this. Bailey broke a halter once, but he knocked a full water bucket down at a show, scared himself, and it happened to snap when he pulled back. He never really was a freak-out-and-set-back horse, for which I am eternally grateful.

  12. Hey Scamp, no apology necessary. different strokes, right? ;) I definitely did not take it personally. I learned awhile ago never to take anothers opinion personally. Check out Hillerman if you get the chance. Almost like Agatha Christie but in the southwest, nowadays.

  13. Ok Mugs, but what about the horse that hasn't broken loose or hurt himself when tied? Or isn't objecting to having things done but just can't stand still while tied for longer than 5 minutes? Absolutely gets dancey-prancey figity after about 5 minutes?

    I had one of those. He was so smart he could figure out how to untie himself no matter how many loops in my slipknot.

    What do you do then? If I tried your 40' rope wrapping method, I think he'd always just suck back for several feet.

  14. I just recently discovered the Stephanie Plum series - what a hoot ! I checked out Laura Crum's site and blog yesterday and I'll give her books a try soon...horses and mystery...gotta be a good combination.

  15. Mlks- yay! So many people don't know how to tie a bowline. Knowing how to tie many different knots is so useful in a barn.
    Ever used a belly rope?
    I only use a belly rope on horses that still pull back after I have tied them for a few days (not very many make it to the belly rope) you HAVE to have a bowline for that one or you could be in big trouble.
    They usually only pull back on the belly rope once. You hear them make a distinct "UFF" noise when they pull back on it.

    Another thing is quick release knots when tieing. When you tie a horse to something you should always loop the lead around the solid object two times first that way when you do tie your quick release knot the horse pulls on the doubled rope around the object; not the knot itself. I tie my horses a lot. Good ol hitching posts.

  16. Ah, thanks Sydney- I'll try the double wrap.

    I need my horses to tie safely. My gelding will ground tie but I have a hard time trusting that... I don't think I'd feel good ground tying at a show!

    My half Arab gelding pulled back when I got him. He actually pulled over a fence that I thought was solid. Uh, oops. After that incident I was ready for him - next time he ended up on his haunches leaning against the rope I went running up behind him, yelling. He stood back up looking kind of silly. Looking back I can see why that was a stupid solution on my part. It worked... after a few of those he seemed to figure out that it was less hassle to just stand there tied than have some maniac teenager freaking out behind him.

    I'd never do that now though. (When I think about stoopid stuff I did with that horse, and that I'm still alive and he lived to reach 21, I am amazed and thankful.)

    When I was training our filly I did more leading and stopping work, and also got starting with tying much earlier. That's the nice advantage of starting with a yearling rather than a 4 year old colt. I looped the rope over her ears, taught her to lower her head from pressure, all kinds of dumb stuff to get her used to the rope and not fear it, or fear having her head restrained. I can't say she's perfect but she's never pulled back.

    Questions: do you use only cotton rope? Anything else terrifies me. How do you tie it to the halter? Quick release knot?

    I have a friend who starts all young horses with a lunge rope around the chest. I think she loops the snap end through the handle, then runs it up through the bottom ring of the halter and ties from there, but I could be wrong about that. Does anybody else use this?

    Also, neither of my 7 year old horses have been crosstied, and they might have to learn soon. Do you all find that if a horse ties well he'll crosstie? Champ wasn't so sure about it. Do people generally use bungee crossties?

    It's become normal for the last decade or so, here in Ontario, to tie horses by running the rope through a loop of twine string. The idea is that if the horse pulls, the string will break, and then the horse isn't hung up and hurt. I get it, it makes sense, but I also suspect this can create a horse that knows how to get free. Does this create pullers??? Anybody?

    I just prefer horses to LEARN to stand tied. I think a legitimate spook once in a lifetime is way different from a habitual puller.

    And I do love this blog. I read every entry even if I don't always comment.

  17. I know I check several times a day as well, loneplainsman. I just can't get enough of Big K, Captain, Mort and especially Sonita as well as the excellent training tips and showing experience. I love all of it. I laugh hysterically at mu-shu chicken and cow biting on Sonita's part. I actually copy and paste the stories into their own little word documents on my computer so that when I'm bored at work, I can just open and re-read in order from the start numerous times. I've been called obsessive on more than one occassion by my husband :)

    I love reading everybody's crazy experiences and anything horse related.

  18. joy- I'll try Patricia Cornwell. I've read most of Tony Hillerman, like him a lot. (Kinda have the hots for Jim Chee)
    Scamp- Gotta love Nero.
    mlks-I'm a total dork when it comes to handling ropes. I can barely tie my shoes.(Why I where boots, I guess)
    I haven't done much with butt ropes because of it.
    Not because I don't agree mind you.
    cdncowgirl-To be honest, I simply wouldn't tie the horse. Most trailer issues comes from being unable to get their feet positioned so they feel safe. If being loose works, I'd leave it alone. I'm sure that's not the best solution, but I am a lazy thing....
    misadventures-that's just an oops. It rarely turns into anything to worry about.
    orsunshine-I tie those impatient ones for HOURS. I totally ignore them. I want them to stand like a rope horse with 10 full seasons behind him. They get tied out in the morning, and put up at night. No if's ands, or butt ropes.Two lead ropes, no extra length. Just tie them and ignore them.
    Hick-I use only cotton rope. I tie the same knot that's on a rope halter-I can't describe how to tie knots...a boyscout handbook worked for me!
    Training them like you are your filly is the best way to prevent all this nonsesnse.
    Everybody-I don't use bungees, or anything stretchy. I don't use twine, or quick release snaps. I want them to be tied, and to respect the rope. That's just me though.
    Unfortunately I have never used cross ties, so I can't help anybody there.
    ezra-Thanks for reading, all of you.

  19. actually, I know where my boots are, I just wear them...

  20. I'm definitely not a big fan of bungee ties. However, I don't own the barn...

    That said, there are a few crossties there that *aren't* stretchy, and I use those now. The boomerang affect is way too scary on those bungee things.

    My old gelding will ground tie in the aisle... unless a cute mare gives him a come hither look from her stall.

  21. So when do we get to review your first book?!?!

    Love the tying info. I have never had a horse that didnt tie, thankfully. My appy did break a lead rope once because a plastic bag with fangs came flying out of the trailer door at a horse show. Once he backed up and broke the rope he just stood there and put his head down like he was was kind of funny.

    I am having a problem with my mare, she is all go and no whoa! Her previous owner gave her great steering but "forgot" the brakes?!? So we are slowly working on this, but I dont think that we are progressing as fast as I think we should, any suggestions? She wants to speed through all of her gaits and put all of her weight on her forehand when we down transition.

  22. mugwump, thanks for the nice review of Hoofprints--I'm glad that you liked the book and tickled that your non-horseman, mystery-loving husband liked it, too. I do try to put just enough "horse background" in there to interest horse lovers, but not so much that a non-horseman will get bored. And thanks to those who said they would check out my series--I appreciate it. I'd be happy to hear your "reviews", too. I really enjoy reader feedback. And I, too, am a fan of Tony Hillerman. Coincidentally, the same artist does both of our covers (Peter Thorpe). I'm also a mugwump chronicles addict (!)

  23. If you love mysteries and horses, then I suggest Kit Ehrman. She has 4 books out and they are all in a series (At Risk, Dead Man's Touch, Cold Burn, Triple Cross). Which to me is even better, because I hate it when a story line ends and the characters end with it.

    I'm like you mugwump, I like to start at the beginning and go to the end.

  24. BTW, I have also read some of Laura Crum's books. She is definitely on my top ten for horse/mystery writers. The only problem that I have had is finding the books.

  25. I've always been a fan of having a horse stand tied, no matter what, and my trainer is also that way. He has some pretty stout posts in the arena, and horses that are pissy about standing tied, or who are generally impatient, end up standing tied for most of the day to one (just like Mugs does).

    It can make life interesting when you're working your horse in the arena, and one of those decides to pitch a fit every time you go by. Fortunately, my girl is used to it (born and raised in the barn) and she knows to ignore them/project alpha mare disapproval when she goes by.

    My trainer has several tricks he uses that differ from Mugs. For young horses, he uses an innertube tied to the 6" x 6" patience post, with a lead rope attached. That's how the babies and the young ones learn to tie. Older horses who just need patience time get tied around the arena. He's had only one adult, full-sized horse in the barn that needed more--and he used a second rope attached to the halter and tied to another post to take the pressure off of the main rope/halter.

    I've been in other barns where there's been a horse who doesn't tie, and I get wildly impatient with the pussy-footing those trainers do around the issue of "horsie doesn't wanna tie." Lots of worry about Precious's neck. Interestingly, most of those trainers are primarily dressage or hunt seat types.

    (and if anyone wants to come check out my blog, feel free--it's not all horses, though--you'll have to put up with science fiction writing stuff, skiing, and teaching comments!)

  26. I really like C.J. Box. He writes about a Wyoming Game Warden, Joe Pickett. There are 6 titles in the series as of the last one, "Free Fire"('07). All are set in Wyoming. Joe is one of the most fun characters I've read about in a while. He's common sense and not a hero of the hero status, but he gets his job done. He always manages to get the local authorities ticked off in the process.

    Finished Laura's "Chasing Cans". Really got the feel for her characters, settings, horses etc. Great read! Now, I need to find the rest of them! Amazon seems to have some.

    Also read Toni Leland's "Deadly Heritage". A little romance mixed in with a mystery. Champion Quarter Horses are being attacked by an unknown assailant at Kellie Sutton's farm. With all the other troubles Kellie is facing, dealing with the new sheriff in town was not something she wanted added to the turmoil. Quite a few different back plots along the way.

    I liked your take on pull-backs. I've only witnessed one serious pull-back at the riding facility where I worked. Crazy horse (I was not fond of this mare) did the whole deal right aa we were looking at her then ended up on the ground still pulling the lead rope so tight the quick release knots had practically melted into each other. Needless to say one of the girls grabbed a pair of scissors (heavy duty, only thing close at the time) and cut the......halter. Yeah, I know. The manager asked why the halter was cut instead of the lead rope. They were nylong halters/lead ropes. Lesson learned. I wasn't in charge, watched all this happen as I was trying to calm Lena down. She was on the ground still pulling. I was working with some young people at the time. I actually thought the two young ladies acted in the best interest of the horse...but anyway...I like reading your different takes on events and problems. You have a whole heap of common sense!

  27. yes I have an impatient yearing now and tying her up every day (2 hours or so always somone within hearing distance) Has really helped.

    Now Im off to find some of Laura's books ;)

  28. Mugwump--
    I like your blog because you really can write well, and you have good practical training tips.
    I have never trained a horse to tie. When you have a weanling who has never been tied, do you start by expecting him to stand tied only a short time? And then gradually extend the time? If he throws a fit, what do you do?
    If there's a way to prevent problems this early, so he never associates tying with fear or with someting he doesn't have to respect, I want to do that.

  29. Hey Mugs,

    I married into a family of authors so if you ever need to be pointed in the right direction when it comes to agents or publishers, let me know.

  30. Dear Mugwump, Thanks so much for addressing the tying issue so quickly after I asked you about it. I love your writing and your blog. I'm glad you're enjoying doing it. Tuesday, I did a tree tying session. Here's a link to a photo of Dude giving me the stink eye in his brand new rope halter. It went well and he didn't freak out or set back. I did get a big picket knife out of my dad's things to use just in case! I don't know if Dude knew what a rope halter was and not to even try yanking hard on it. He tried rubbing it off and he tried untying the knot, but he never yanked and went back violently. I'm planning on longer and longer sessions. He "behaves" when I'm in sight, so I watched him through the kitchen window -- very convenient for me.

  31. Uh, that's a "pocket" knife. I'm not sure what a "picket" knife is. Maybe to cut a picket line. LOL.

    And yes, I check several times a day to see of Mugs has updated. I'm hooked the stories and can't wait to find out what happens next!

  32. Mugwump: Thankfully we color-code our butt & neck ropes. To say that it's taken time to get used to handling multiple ropes is an understatement...and no video exists from early on in my learning process.

    ...thank god. Hee.

  33. Anonymous said...

    >>I have never trained a horse to tie. When you have a weanling who has never been tied, do you start by expecting him to stand tied only a short time?<<

    I'm not a lot of help there. This will probably drive some of you nuts, but I rarely halter break my weanlings, much less tie them.
    If one gets hurt, we just corner them and doctor them.
    I halter break as a yearling. I start to tie them as two-year-olds. I personally don't care for babies that have been handled a lot.
    I do gently scratch their withers.
    I do send them out if they try to kick or bite.
    I herd them through gates, it gets them reading my body language.
    I scratch their chest.
    I run my hands down their legs.
    My shoer can trim them before I can tie them.
    When I do finally tie a colt, I wrap the rope a few times, tie them off and leave.They are with horses they know, that are calm, and stand quietly while tied. The colt already has been taught to give to pressure.
    As soon as he pulls a time or two and then relaxes I put him up.
    That's about it.

  34. I guess I'm way too old school on tying.
    I've only seen weanlings started by tying for short periods of time to a (deflated) inner tube, gradually increasing and then working up to tying to a solid object, but tying needs to be taught ASAP.

    I bought a mule that had been beated while tied up, most likely tied with a chain over her poll.
    She has a huge indented scar behind her ears. The flesh and cartilage has a good inch-deep notch where you trim for a bridle path. The hairs grew back in white, and the deepest part of the notch never grew back hair.

    That mule had to learn how to tie. I will not have an animal that does not tie.

    I took her to the indoor arena and tied to her to a good solid upright post with a rope halter (Silvertip brand, really nice) and left her. She pawed a hole to China, she carried on, she fretted and worked herself up to a pretty good sweat. I don't know if it was her mule-ness or what but she never really sat down on her hindquarters and lugged for more than 10 seconds or so. It only took her a few days of that, they're smart. As soon as she figured out I wasn't going to beat her she accepted it.

    I would do the same thing for a horse. Sorry. They will learn how to tie to a solid object with a reasonable (not long enough to trip over or hurt themselves) length of rope.

    My trainer did this with several rehab horses. One horse was tied to a telephone pole for several afternoons.

    None of her horses ever hurt themselves doing this... they may have been sore or sweaty with rub marks, but they learned how to tie and gradually let people do grooming and saddling with them.

    I refuse to use elastic bands or anything with give to it. I tie to solid objects above the withers with a rope halter and proper quick release knot.

    Out of the dozens of horses and mules I've worked with none of them ever hurt themselves being tied.

    I've been in emergencies that required my animals to know how to tie... fire evacuation, "holyshit
    call the ambulance right now someone fell off" days, etc.

    IMO I think it should be required of any equine, it's just too important to let go.

  35. Rope: Rope to me doesn't matter. I prefer marine braid because of the weight but I love cotton ropes with bull snaps for things like teaching young horses to tie. They are less abrasive than other rope synthetics.

    Bungee cross ties: DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS, DANGEROUS!!
    I have personal experience here. My friend bought bungee cross ties. She tied her gelding with them who is normally calm about everything. Mating cats ran underneath him, he pulled back, thought he wasn't really tied, the bungee snapped, HIT HIM right in the face, the snap few off where the bungee broke and went through a Plexiglas window. I still have no clue how it went through that window. I was doing stalls and just stood there with my mouth open. I'll never tie a horse with a bungee that has the individual elastic fibers covered in like rope.

    I do however LOVE in trailers the bungees that are black rubber. I take off the little S hooks and put double ended snaps on each end then connect them in the tie loop on the trailer then tie my lead rope to them.
    If a horse happens to fall they have a little more give and its more likely to break a snap on the bungee than your halter or lead rope. They also don't snap back like the other bungees.

  36. half-assed-I think we're on the same page. The only difference is when we start the babies. If I had my way, they'd be wild little rabbits with no handling at all until they were two.
    My advice about the long rope is for a horse that chronically sucks back. I've seen these horses throw themselves over and into whatever they are tied to.I've seen frantic owners get hurt involving themselves in the situation.
    My way keeps horses and owners safe. I try to be careful when giving advice to someone I can't see, a horse I don't know, and I can't be there to supervise. And it works. Once I commit to tying them, they stay there until they are quiet.
    I don't think your so old fashioned, just practical.

  37. Just a question for clarification...

    You said: Once I commit to tying them, they stay there until they are quiet.

    So does that mean you're constantly monitoring them, wating for the EXACT moment they stop and quit (at least for the first few times), or do you basically go about your business and only check in occasionally (which would mean you bring them in EVENTUALLY, but not necessarily right away)??

    Sorta nit-picky, but I'm curious.

  38. Mugwump- your method makes sense for the situation, also you have a lot more clients than I do. :)

    I've worked with the people where I have been there in person and we had time to scan the area for hazards and get people away when the horse flipped out. Most of this was outside at a tie rack, too, not a barn aisle where any number of things can go on.

    I did lease a couple of mares before and immediately after I bought Jasmine... The owners were the no-tie types and damn, those mares capitalized on it. They were both in their late teens and couldn't be reliably tied for any length of time. Putting up with those two just made me decide that any critter I work with has to tie.

    Syndey- the bungee ties freak me out, too. One lady at the barn tried to convert me to a bungee tie that had VELCRO at the other end. Yeah, that's great for tying a 1200 lb animal.

  39. loneplainsman-
    I'm not that observant. I let water tanks overflow,leave cattle gates open, forget to tie my last horse far enough away, so the others chew on my saddle....
    I just wander off, when I see a horse relaxed, I'll wander back and untie him. If he starts to squall, I'll walk off again, (hopefully to turn off the water)
    half assed, I'm not that busy. Really.

  40. Dear Mugwumps, I have no weanlings, nor any desire to ever raise one from scratch, but I'm curious as to why you say you'd prefer them unhandled until age 2. Does it preserve some behaviors that you find necessary, later, or preserve their minds?

  41. Actually Mugs, I'm curious too. I've worked in show barns where all the foals were imprinted at birth, halter trained as a weanling, taken short rides in the trailer with Mama, hooves trimmed, groomed, used to clippers, etc.

    Now, unlike a lot of the BYBs and small time breeders here in Oregon, we DID NOT wean until 6 months of age. I see foals weaned here at 2-4 months with 3 months seeming to be average. My thought is that like puppies, foals need this time with other foals and Mama to learn how to be a horse. Orphaned, bottle raised foals tend to miss out on that and think they're people, not horses. Your thoughts on early weaning and minimal handling?

  42. heidi- for what its worth here is how we do it at our barn:

    Start with a horse that stands tied. you've already got that.

    Don't use bungies! Or at least thats not what I recommend.

    Our crossties are very very wide, so if yours have bars on the sides which are very close in this may or may not work.

    Stand your horse in the cross ties. Clip one side to your horse.

    (note: we always have the quick release attached to the barn, not the horse. Maybe everyone does this already but its worth mentioning anyway.)

    Clip the tie on the other side to itself to form a loop.

    Use a long rope, usually a lunge rope, just like mugs does. Run the rope through the loop formed by the cross tie rope.

    Pause. If they flip out for some reason you can let a little rope out if you need to in order to get them to relax again. When everything is settled down...

    Keep the rope in your hand but proceed as you normally would to tack up. Groom, pick hooves, saddle. (sometimes a helper is nice, but not neccesary if you can get creative with making sure you have some kind of grip on the rope. If a little slips during the freaking out its not a problem.)

    During this time they may or may not freak out at various steps. We dont usually have much of a problem with a horse that stands tied already. Sometimes horses will decide that since there is nothing in front of them they would like to mosey off. Then they hit the end of the line. Most accept this restriction. Some are shocked and freak out a little. Many will calm themselves down with no action or rope loosening, if they dont then give them a little line until they calm down.

    We keep a rope run through a loop for several trips to the crossties when they are learning. When we feel confident that they will respect the cross ties and give to the pressure then we clip them on both sides.

    Initially we just go about our business as usual so that there is minimal new stuff/stressors introduced. Once a horse respects pressure and we've got them cliped on both sides successfully usually they're done. Recently we had a little gelding that remained pretty wiggly.

    We took a page from mugs again and we tied him and let him stand there. We're a little wimpier than mugs so I sat there and polished tack while he figured out the whole standing still thing. He spent a little time being upset but because I knew from experience that he would stand I just ignored it and kept polishing.

    Once he stood still for long enough, and I had finished with the tack. I groomed him and put him away. I didn't spend as long as mugs does because I couldnt sit with him for hours, we needed the crossties for other horses (I dont like the ones in the main barn as much) and I'm too wimpy to leave hores alone in the crossties. I spend all day with visions of coming back to a horse with a broken neck or other injuries.

    Sorry for the long post but I have a word on bungie ties.

    I understand why people like them. The give can be comforting to horse and human, hopefully when they snap they do it closer to the horse end than the wall end and then there's no trouble with having a horse hit in the face. I've had a horse flip out and fall over in bungie ties and they stretched no problem to the floor.

    That all being said I think your best bet if you want to use bungie ties is 1) have the horse in a situation, like a wash stall, where they cannot back up forever. 2) Dont leave them alone with those ties on. I'm wimpy and try not to leave them alone much even with regular ropes but with bungies you want someone there to keep the horse from going forward too far and snapping the ropes. A bungie with a horse tied in a stall makes a lot of sense for that reason, or a trailer. In an aisle I think it is more dangerous.

    Just my two cents. Good luck.

  43. If it helps I just weaned a filly that was born the beginning of march. She became really attached to her sister so we took mom away for a couple weeks.
    She wasn't really upset at all. She screamed a few times but that was it because her sister is not her surrogate mom. My horses are out 24/7 so they already know how to be a horse by this time and you can take them away from mom or mom away from baby without anything more than a couple screams. Makes weaning pretty darn easy because they aren't frantically looking for mom when they have a surrogate mom that they can't nurse off of.

  44. I used to have a pulling back horse, he was an OTTB, and just came to me as a puller. Broke halters, leads, pulled a pipe fence out of the ground. Pretty amazing. We worked on it a lot, but it could strike anytime. what finally cured him was a fortuitous stupidity.

    I had tied him to a bug dumpster, just for a moment to get the hose. When that hose moved, he lurched backwards, and that dumpster fell over, and followed him. He pulled it about 6 feet before he finally stopped, freaked out and exhausted. I got him to take a step forward to get him untied. He never pulled back again.
    I do think however, that he could have won a dumpster pull, if they had one at the fair.
    Again I would not recommend this, but it sure worked to show him that pulling only got a giant orange thing to come after you.

    And if I may plug my blog which a just started, it's called carpe pipkin.

  45. oh, and Mugwump. I love your blogs, they are great and inspired mine!

  46. oops, that would be a big dumpster, not a bug dumpster.

  47. Go mugs! You have quite the fan club! I love your blog.

    mtn mollie

  48. I'm a fairly new reader, but already I find that I'm addicted to this blog of yours! I'm also a big fan of FOTD (Fugs) which is how I found out about you, actually. You've inspired me to start up my ow blog, as well as improve my horsemanship from the ground.

    Thanks for the inspiration, and a great read.