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3 year old Belgian with wash rack problems


Hi Franklin,

I have had my horse since he was 6 months old and he is now 3. Last week he pulled back while being bathed and broke the wash rack and pulled it around until the roped had wrapped around his ankles. Then he just sat down and was very afraid. I just bought the Blocker Tie Ring. I know he is afraid to be tied now. Have you had any experience with this Ring? I know this is a bad problem and don't want a repeat. I think the person washing him squired him in the face. Damage done.. Please help with any suggestions. He loves me and each time he sees me he runs to me and wants to be with me, but when I take him to the wash rack he runs away now.

Thanks, Rosanna

Hi Rosanna,

Probably you are right that an idiot sprayed the animal in its face and scared the crap out of it, or some such thing. How unfortunate as it only takes an instant to produce issues that take quite a bit of time to resolve. I know of the Blocker Tie Ring and similar devices. You can use this device but for a while use it with a very long rope (30-35 feet or so). If the horse pulls he is never 'caught' as he can continue to pull back as you slowly let the rope play out through the 'ring.' If there is some resistance on the line, most horses will only pull back a relatively short distance (10-15 feet or so). Sometimes they will pull for a greater distance, but rarely (thatís why you have 30-35 feet of 5/8 inch, soft, smooth line to play with). If they can move back, but with some resistance on the rope, they will not throw themselves down or destroy what they are tied to (they are not tied). Once the horse stops pulling, wait a little and let it settle, then bring it up close to the 'ring' again and repeat the process. You can also use a very sturdy, smooth (pipe) rail that is very secure to uprights. In this case you wrap the rope two or three times around the rail so when the horse pulls you can let out the rope slowly. The several wraps around the rail insure the horse cannot pull back too fast. This method is very effective. It may need to be reinforced occasionally. Also, if that idiot that caused the problem in the first place gets with this horse, it will be made fearful again. Horses have a very good memory and do remember people associated with good and bad events. I suggest using a rope halter that is not too thin.

Getting the horse back into the wash rack is a separate issue along with the possibility that the animal is now made afraid of water coming from a horse and/or water on its body. You do not say if it is now afraid of hoses spraying water. But, as far as the wash rack goes. Walk the horse back and forth in front of the entrance quite a bit and perhaps give some feed at the entrance and end the session. Begin this process and expect it to take several weeks before he feels good/safe enough to take a step in. When you do ask for something, only ask for it to take one step towards the entrance and then stop asking. The removal of all pressure is the great reward. Allow peace to prevail for a minute or two. Then ask for one more step and reward if you get some effort. if he actually goes in, immediately walk out and put the horse away as the great reward. If he will not take a step towards the entrance, walk back and forth in front some more and end the session. If you are good at 'sending' a horse into a trailer (rather than leading it), this is a good method to ask for forward movement into someplace scary and the same method as trailer loading training can be employed. One-step-at-a-time, very patient training is always the best. You can also try bribing the animal with some food. Allow the horse to eat some meals in or near the wash rack and perhaps he will 'load' himself into the that space eventually.

So, there are a few things to try. If you would like we could do a phone consultation on this issue, or others, as well. It is effective and very good value for the money involved. I pay for the call and do it via Skype. Just something to consider as these techniques are like trying to teach someone to tango via an email. It helps to either see it, which is best, or to hear it described and be able to ask questions which is second best. Good Luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerest regards, Franklin

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