Tying a horse is such a basic part of owning a horse that many of us take it for granted. But if you have a horse that won’t stand nicely while tied, or if you’re training a youngster to tie, then you’ve probably realized this is as much a learned skill as, say, sidepassing or spinning. Maybe more so, since standing tied to a solid object is not something a horse would naturally do.

But standing quietly while tied is necessary for our domesticated horses, both for convenience and safety. Luckily, even if your horse doesn’t yet have this skill mastered, he can learn the ropes with some patience on your part and a few smart reschooling strategies.

The Root of the Problem

Pulling back is the most serious and probably the most common tying misbehavior. That’s not too surprising, since a horse’s first reaction to any kind of trouble (real or imagined) is to run away. But if a tied horse tries to leave, he hits the end of the rope and feels pressure from the halter on his head. When a horse doesn’t have the right training, that can lead to panic and struggling against the "trap." Ultimately, the horse might break the halter, the lead rope, or whatever he’s tied to. He might also pull muscles or even flip and seriously injure himself or the person trying to "save" him.

Other less serious—but still annoying—misbehaviors associated with tying include pawing the ground, fidgeting and restlessness, and chewing nearby objects. These habits usually trace to impatience and/or anxiety. But from pulling back to pacing, all tying troubles really have their origi