Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Backing when tied

Hi Franklin,

I have a five year old gelding (Appaloosa) who seems to be afraid of everything. I have had him for a year but I suspect he wasn't exposed to a lot. When tied to a horse trailer, cross ties etc, if something spooks him he will back until he breaks. He backed in the cross ties when I first got him and had no other episodes until lately. He has bent the steel rung on the horse trailer, broke countless halters and lead ropes as of late. This is his first summer showing and seems to be fine at the horse shows but I can't trust him to tie him. He is generally a very spooky horse but usually spooks in place if he is not tied. I am a green rider and so far, I have been hurt four times by his spooking episodes. I love him dearly but I am thinking of selling him if I can't fix him as he is too dangerous to himself and others to be managed by someone like me. When I start working with him, showing him different objects such as balloons and umbrellas, he won't go near me for days. (I have never hit him for spooking etc.) I am heart sick as I love him so but I am scared to death every time I bring him out to brush him etc. cause he is so unpredictable. He generally a very loving horse and never does anything aggressive. Please help!

Thanks, Heidi

Hi Heidi,

A very spooky horse is a huge problem and danger for himself and the humans around him. He needs a course in becoming 'bomb-proofed.' To do this is quite a bit more detailed than I can give you in a simple email. I would suggest you focus your attention on curing the spookiness and not be concerned about riding the horse in shows for a little while. Thank you for understanding your horse is merely afraid and does not need to be punished for being bad. It is only fear and nothing about the animal being disobedient or bad towards you. A few skills like asking the horse to yield his front end and hind end, either from the ground or saddle is a skill, that will help you re-focus the animals attention on the rider or handler should he get nervous and afraid.

I have several techniques for curing a horse from pulling back. They require skill, timing, precision and patience. I would be happy to coach you via the telephone on these techniques. Please consider your horse's problem is a bit too serious to be handled in this simple email and that a telephone coaching session would be a convenient, timely and cost effective way to have success with the horse around this issue. I will share an old cowboy way of dealing with this situation. I have seen 'horse trainers' (old school style a bit) put a rope training halter on a horse and tie the horse to a 300 lb. tractor tire, leaving about three feet of slack in the line. They then 'hazed' the horse (did what they could to provoke the horse pulling back) from horseback and the ground. The horse could move the tire when he pulled, but not too far. He never threw himself on the ground as the tire would move a small distance with him. The horse continued to pull for a couple of minutes (3-4 at most). After that he gave it up and did not pull again no matter what the stimulus. So, I thought it was OK. Nobody got hurt at all and the problem was solved in a few minutes. To see a horse freaking out and pulling so hard it throws itself on the ground or breaks things is scary and unnerving. However, even my other techniques, while somewhat less dramatic to watch, involve setting the horse to pull back, keeping him safe as he does, and then repeating the process until the animal understands he can be tied and not have anything to fear. He needs training and then consistent handling around this problem. Good Luck and please be careful.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: