Archives MAIN PAGE

Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

Professional support for you and your horse!

Horse Pulling Back

Dear Franklin,

I just found your site while trying to find a fix for my problem. I am a fairly new hose owner and have a problem with one of my horses when he's tied. He is an 8 year old retired roping horse and has the best personality in the world. You don't have to tie him for grooming, worming, saddling, or any routine chore. All that changes when you need to trim hoofs or even tie in the trailer. The first time (only time) I have had his hooves trimmed he would set back like he was stopping a calf and break the lead rope snap. He would then walk back up to you like nothing happened. He will stand tied until you do something that he doesn't like, then he snaps the lead and stares at you. I finally had to drug him just to get the hooves trimmed, and they were in bad shape. It's time to do it again and I really don't like having to drug him. I read the letters on your site about this, but it doesn't seem to be fear because he walks right back to you.

Thanks, Richard

Hi Richard,

First thing is your horse is pulling back for one of two reason; depending on his training as a rope horse, he may be trained to pull like that when he feels any pressure on a lead line. He had to do this when a calf was roped as part of his training. Second possibility is that he was hit in the head or appropriately around his head, as some cowboys do with their horses, or he was tied up too tight and short while some procedure was done to him . This will make him resist anything that feels like 'capture'. This is a fear based response. When he is freed from a tied line he immediately feels safe and is calm again. It is not good that he keeps popping the rope or snaps. He has learned now that he can get away by pulling. He has been rewarded for this behavior and has learned it well.

There is no real need for you to tie the horse when he is being shod or trimmed. Nowhere does it say a horse must stand tied firm for shoeing. In fact, the opposite is the general rule; if a procedure is being done to your horse it is best to not tie the horse (in case he gets scared and pulls) but rather to hold the horse by the lead. Quite a few horses do not like heavy restraint. Best to get the horse in a trusting way with humans, this way he generally will stand quietly for most procedures.

Here is a quick description of one technique to get a horse over pulling back; find a stout, horse eye-level branch of a tree. Get a 50' long, soft, sturdy rope to tie to the 'rope halter'. Take one or two wraps with the rope around the tree limb. This is so you can let the rope out easily when the horse pulls back. Set the horse to pulling back and slowly, gradually let the rope out as he pulls. He'll only pull for 10 -15 yards or so before he stops. When he stops, bring him back up to the limb again and leave about three (not too much) feet of slack. Then you keep repeating the process until the horse realizes nothing bad is going to happen when he is tied and he is only working himself hard unnecessarily by all that pulling.

Another technique is to get a big (300 lb. or bigger) tractor tire. Tie the horse to the tire and set him back. He'll be able to pull the tire around a bit, but certainly not too far before he realizes this is a lot of work for no reason. I like the high tree limb approach better. These techniques have risk and take some skill and certainly timing. Be careful......for yourself and your horse. Keep me posted please. This is a ocmmomn issue and yoru experience will be valuable to others with the same challenge.

Sincerely, Franklin

Look for: