Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Teaching a horse to stand still and relax has many benefits. When riding it has the benefit of making it possible to ride the horse from behind to forward. When handling it`s a great way to make sure we have the horse`s consensus when grooming, saddling or doing other stuff with them.
It's not hard to teach horses to stand quietly without being held. Horses are energy conservant and rather stand still than use lots of energy. But they also seek the least amount of pressure. If we hold a horse still, the pressure is happening when the horse is doing the right thing, which is standing still, and the horse will look for the release by wanting to move off. If we need to hold our horse when saddling or mounting, teaching the horse to ground tie and stand on a loose rein is a great way to get this sorted. Get this right and before you know it you`ll be able to groom, saddle and even ride your horse at liberty.
Ground tying is when the horse has a place on the ground where he`s supposed to stand. If the horse walks off, you put him back to this place. When the horse stands in the right spot, you leave him alone. This is something horses learn quickly. But be mindful not to punish the horse for walking off. The horse doesn't know he's supposed to stand still. Kindly ask your horse to back up, walk forward or sideways, into the place he was standing. If we ask with to much energy the horse might experience this as a punishment and not dare to move. We risk building tension in the horse, and that's not what we want. This video shows how you can teach ground tying:
Standing on loose reins. A great way to motivate horses to stand still, especially when riding, is to release the reins when the horse stands still. In this way we offer the horse to stand still but we don`t make him stand still. Eventually the horse will figure out it's better to stand still on a loose rein than to wander off. It`s easier to get results by using one rein rather than two reins when doing this. By using one rein the horse has a way out and will not feel trapped. It will also empty out worry in the horse and help the horse find it`s own stop. The video below shows an example of this method:
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