Today I’m answering three questions that I think are all related. One is about a horse that pops his head up when he steps on the lead rope, another is about ground tying and the final one is about tying with patience.
When a horse steps on the lead rope while grazing, some will step off the rope without missing a bite…while others will pop their heads up almost as if they are surprised. During this segment, I discuss the ‘truth’ that both horses are experiencing and I outline how to show the horse the more quiet answer.
The next question is about teaching a horse to ground tie and I share five steps for teaching a horse to understand this.
Finally, I discuss teaching a horse to stand quietly. We discuss the nuances of recognizing subtle changes in a horse while it is tied and solutions for reducing pawing.
[00:00:03] Podcasting from a little cabin on a hill. This is the Stacy Westfall podcast. Stacy’s goal is simple to teach you to understand why horses do what they do, as well as the action steps for creating clear, confident communication with your horses.
[00:00:22] Hi, I’m Stacy Westfall, and I’m here to teach you how to understand, enjoy and successfully train your own horses. Today, I’m answering three questions that I think are all related.
[00:00:35] One is about a horse that pops his head up when he steps on the lead rope. The next is about ground tying. And the final one is about teaching a horse to tie without pawing. Let’s listen to the first question.
[00:00:50] Hi, Stacy, my name’s Drewry, and I’m a big fan. I love listening to your podcasts. I especially love your New Year’s Day podcasts. They’re very motivating for me. I sometimes go back and listen to them if I need a need, a boost. I have a question for you about horses being tied and it comes to me because I’m here.
[00:01:15] I have a three year old girl on hand grazing right now in the spring, getting him ready to be on pasture. And when he steps on his lead, he jerks his head up. He can tie just fine to a fence post or something like that. And he doesn’t have a problem with standing still. And I’ve never seen him jerk his head back. But I have another horse, the 19 year old. And when we’re out, he and grazing, if he steps on his lead rope, he just leaves his head down or he kind of gently step, takes a step back and gets off the rope. But the three year old jerks his head up every time and seems surprised that his head is being held down. So I wanted to know if there if there’s some way that I can teach him to accept that and to be calmer about it. Thanks again.
[00:02:08] Thanks for the question, Drury. I think it’s interesting and I’m really glad that you observed the difference between your older horse and your younger horse. I’m going to phrase it this way. Your younger horse is experiencing a truth. The truth that if you step on the lead rope and feel the pressure, that if you pop up, that you’ll release the pressure. So the younger one has discovered that this is true. The older one is also experiencing a truth. It’s just a different truth. This truth is that if you step on the lead rope and you feel the pressure that if you keep your head down and you step back or step some other direction, that you can release that pressure and continue grazing. I think it’s important for you to recognize that they’re both experiencing the truth now. It’s also easy if you’re watching, like if you just in your mind, watch a little videotape of these both happening. One looks more pleasant to experienced than the other, but it’s my guess that the younger horse hasn’t accidentally discovered this other truth, that there is another way to get rid of that pressure. And so I’d like to outline how you can help the horse do that. But I think it’s also important for everyone listening to understand that younger horse is experiencing truth in their response, and that is that they step on that.
[00:03:43] And what they don’t understand is that when they go to pop their head up, they also pop. Typically, their whole front end up a little bit almost like a little baby rear. Kind of a reaction. And that’s what lifts their foot and gives them the release that they’re looking for from the pole pressure. So I would say that some horses will accidentally learn to drop their head. And, you know, you’ll see people that will. I’m not saying this is what I’m suggesting, but I’m saying you will see people that will just put a lead rope on a horse, let them go and figure it out. But the interesting thing is they may figure out what the older one did or they may figure out what the younger one did, because there’s truth in both. Now, you very clearly asked for help in changing the younger one. So here’s what I would do. I would teach the horse that light pressure from the halter or your hand on the pole. Pressure going straight down means to drop your head down. I do like that you mentioned the horse doesn’t have tying issues. Now, what’s interesting about that is that you can do a lot of work to get a horse so that they will tie. That pressure is coming forward. It’s it’s like pressure that is coming from in front of them and they learn to step forward.
[00:05:04] You would think that this would translate to other areas like like dropping the head down or turning the head down and left or down and right. And with some horses, it does. Some horses make those connections almost naturally with very little help. And other horses don’t make those connections as quickly. And this is where taking the time to stand there and even just pinching with your two fingers on the lead rope just below the halter, you can just be standing in the stall or somewhere and just supplying a little bit of pressure. And if you if that’s that straight down pressure and it doesn’t have to be like a tug of war, because if you just hold down with let’s just say I don’t know if I hold on to a lead rop and I just let my arm hang. I’m gonna guess I should go set my arm down on a scale, but I’m gonna guess that’s probably got a half a pound of pressure. If I literally just hold on, I’m let my arm just kind of hang without even pushing down. Gravity on my arm is gonna have some amount of pressure. And if you just hold that pressure, think about the different options. The horse as the horse might take its head up. Well, you’re not trying to act like it’s tied to the ground. So if the horse goes up and you’re holding a half pound of pressure, you just continue holding the half pound of pressure.
[00:06:22] And if they drop down just a little bit, you soften or release. So you start teaching them the same way you would if you were teaching them to bend left or right, that when their head goes down that that half a pound goes to 0 or less anyway. And so you can do that either directly with the halter or you can reach up with your hand and you can put light pressure on top of the pole and teach the horse to drop with that cue. I like it if horses know both cues. I tend to use the halter cue because it’s harder for horses to escape from. What I mean by that is I’m picturing Presto because I’m about to use him in the illustration and he’s 16 hands. He was almost sixteen hands when I started teaching him this lesson. He was a good 15 hands anyway when I was really refining it to the level I’m about to talk about. And that also means that he has this ability to put his head up really high. So if I started using my hand, then there was a little bit more of that chance that he was going to be able to actually get up above me. And I didn’t want him to discover that.
[00:07:26] So I just went with like pressure on the halter, which when it’s a straight down pressure is pressure on the pole. So it’s basically the same thing. So one of the places that I really refined it with Presto is that when I start teaching the horses to wear blankets in the winter, I personally just build into my system that I don’t unbuckle the front because this is another training opportunity for me, because that means I’m going to teach the horse to drop its head down low and keep its head down while I pull that blanket off over and Presto would do a lot of like he wanted to naturally kind of pop his head up, even though he kinda knew the idea of dropping his head down and he didn’t show any real symptoms. I also didn’t put him in a position to step on the lead rope. So I don’t know what that would have been like, but I can guess it would have been a little bit like popping up because if I held down on the leader up, had him drop released, if I did that over and over again, when I would pull, when I when he kind of had it, when I would pull the blanket off over his head, he would want to pop his head up right afterwards and I would play a game with it.
[00:08:32] So I’d bring the blanket off and then he’d go to pop up. And I would I would be holding this light pressure and drop his head down. And it didn’t take very long until eventually he would keep his head down during the whole process with no popping up. You can also and I did at one point because the blankets are kind of heavy and awkward and so you can do it pulling anything down over their neck if you want to. And again, I was doing this for the purpose of the blanket, but also because it’s just like a more advanced version of what I’m telling you to do because there’s more reason for him to question it or pop up against him.
[00:09:08] And he definitely had a little resistance spot there. But I can absolutely confirm that because of doing this work, I can actually because I ground tie him now and I pull the halter on off. And I have played around with like me stepping on the lead rope cause he’ll have he’ll be stand there with his head down, kind of looking around and I’ll step on the lead rope while I’m brushing his neck. And it’s just lightly with like say the majority of my weight’s on my right foot, but I just lightly step on it with my left foot and he’ll go to turn his head and he’ll bump in it. He’ll be like, oh, and he just keeps it there. But what was interesting when I was teaching him to keep his head down, when he was wanting to pop his head up, also interesting to notice all the different things they try to answer with. So, for example, since you said your horse doesn’t have an issue with pulling back when tied. It wouldn’t surprise me if when your horse has feels that downward pressure. It wouldn’t surprise me if that horse’s first thought to the downward pressure might be popping up like you’re saying, but also might be kind of popping up and maybe even a little bit forward because maybe, that’s the piece that they tied together when they were learning the forward motion and come forward.
[00:10:21] And then the things that were that were trained to them before somebody tied them the first time. Typically when you’re teaching that horse to drop the head, neck the pole, they the popping up is one thing they can do. Popping up and backing up is the combination that tends to get your horses that pull back, which is also why teaching them to drop their head down a step forward is really handy if you’ve got a horse that looks like it might have pulling back issues. And then there’s also, you know, horses that when you go to continue to keep their head down slightly like when I was teaching Presto with the blanket, he because I had done the training about coming forward to the halter pressure, even though it was forward pressure like pressure out in front of him or off to a side that was meaning come forward. He automatically applied forward to the downward pressure. Can you see where he was just making an educated guess. And so this is where a lot of what you’re talking about here. It’s good that you observed it before. It’s a problem. But you’re also talking about how can I advance this horse’s training? I would go back, teach the horse just through consistent, you know, just light. Pressure had drop. You can scratch them when they drop their head. You can feed them a treat if you want.
[00:11:36] But teaching them that this is like a downward pressure. And then for sure, you could even do, you know, down and forward or down and back or down and left and down and right. But he’s got to have a little bit of those ideas planted in his mind at some point. And those are the few of the ways that I did it with Presto. And now he’s pretty cool because he totally keeps his head down while the blanket goes on and off. But I also notice as a side effect of that happening that he had just time to stands there when I’m grooming him, when he’s ground tied with his head lower than it used to be. And I think that’s also partially just a side effect because he got a lot of different rewards being down there. And it might be a little bit because he’s also looking around on the ground sometimes for hay that he might be able to sneak over and eat, which is coming up in the next question. So thanks again for the question. And let’s listen to the next one.
[00:12:31] Hi Stacy its, Cindy. You might remember cattle ranching, homeschooling mom from south central Wyoming, having the time of my life to start Colts in my early 50s. And the first two I’ve ever started are coming 4 years old, about ready to head outside in May to start to learn to earn a living around here. And after having gone through all your materials, which have been so helpful, I am finding now that I do have a question. I would love to know how you teach a horse to ground tie. I’m hoping this will be useful information for your other listeners. I do know it sure is useful for a ranch horse. Stacy. You have been such an encouragement to me. Thank you so much for everything you do.
[00:13:17] I remember you, Cindy, and it sounds like your colts are doing really well. And thank you for the beautiful feedback. Let’s see if I can add some information about ground tieing that will be helpful to you. So you’ve watched my training videos and if you are listening and you haven’t, you’ll find a lot of my videos on my YouTube channel. There’s one Stacy’s video diary, Jack, or there’s also another playlist for the Trail to the World show. And if you jump over there and watch the videos, you’ll understand what I’m about to discuss with Cindy. But what those show, especially episode three of the Trail to the World show is I know that I for sure show it a few demonstration things with me and a horse and a stick, a string and whipping around and talking about emotional control. Now, in episode three of the Trail to the World’s show, you’re watching like a more finished demonstration. If you want to see how all the pieces come together. That was the point of Stacy’s video diary, Jack. Those are both playlists on my YouTube channel. So I know you’re familiar with that idea.
[00:14:25] So moving from there, what I want to do is show you how I transition that into ground time. So in the video of the Episode 3, I was talking about teaching a horse to stand still while riding on the trail or while riding in the arena. So I show you the whipping around idea and the sacking out idea, and then I show you like a version of riding and hugging and squeezing.
[00:14:55] Then in the way that I would take it to ground tying is I would I made this into five steps, actually five steps and an end and a final thought. So let me run through the five really quick. So four ground tying. What you would do is first number one, you would teach the horse to stand on, oh, halter and long lead rope 10 to 15 feet away from you with slack in the rope and whip around the horse. That’s what I’m saying. You can see in the YouTube videos.
[00:15:29] Then number two, when the horse will stand on the end of that long rope with it drooping and you can whip around. Now, I want you to know if you can walk a semicircle around that horse. So the horse has four feet and planted and standing there staring at you. And they’re slack and. Rope, you stop whipping and you can walk like a semi-circle so you can walk.
[00:15:54] You’re let’s just say you’re 15 feet away from the horse. You’re fifteen feet straight in front of the horse. Can you walk all the way around to the left to the point where your standing back? Maybe. Maybe if the horse facing you is twelve o’clock. Can you walk all the way around a three o’clock and then back all the way around to 9 o’clock. If the horse if we’re looking down above the horse and it’s that horses that horses view like 12 to 3, 3 to 9 coming back through that twelve o’clock. So can you walk a semicircle around there. So if you can’t walk that semicircle around because your horse starts to move, then that’s a little hole in the train like the horse is thinking more about being locked on you than keeping the feet still. So we’re gonna have to correct that.
[00:16:39] Number three once you get it so that at that out there, that number one and number two work so that you can stand in front of that horse and you can whip and the horse understands, oh, this doesn’t mean move. It just means stand here and just stand here. There’ll be more specific and now ask in a different way if they want me to move. And then you transition that until you can walk the semi-circle around them and they still just stand. There they go. Oh, well, they haven’t used to go forward. Move cue, so therefore I’m standing still. And then what I start doing is I start using that then daily when I’m saddling and unsaddling. So I still keep him on a long rope and. And so maybe what I’ll do is go out, do a little bit of groundwork because say it’s Presto. And he was young and green. I’m going to go out and move him around and put him through a work cycle and that I’m going to do the whipping around him and him standing still. And since let’s say I’ve been practicing this for, you know, a couple of weeks, he’s got it down pretty solid. Then I would bring him back over to where I normally groom and saddle and I would go over and I would ground tie him, which is essentially like I can you can start adding a word like, whoa! Or a lot of my horses start to realize that if I’m not asking them to move, then I start teaching them the default is to stand still. That’s what a lot of that groundwork is if you look at it from that angle when you’re watching the videos.
[00:18:06] So then I start using it daily when they’re saddling. It’s interesting because the issues you run into when you’re using it on a more daily basis while grooming or saddling tend to be what I would call wandering. So in the beginning, when you’re doing the whipping around out in the middle, it’s like confusion because they’re like, oh, certainly they must be asking me to move because there’s all this energy. Well, they figure that one out. Well, then when you go over and you start ground tying and so you’ve got this long rope so you can easily correct them and move the back in spot. They start getting confused because they they’re like, OK, we’re here.
[00:18:44] But your attention, you’re not holding their attention as strongly. So they have more of a tendency be like, oh, is that a piece of, hay, I can reach oh, look over there. There’s somebody outside the door. Can I step to the right and look at the look out the door.
[00:18:59] Oh, did a horse over there just whinny? So they tend to be smaller distractions. And what I do is I lead my horse over. And when I stop a lot of times I’ll square up their front feet, which just means put the two front feet, you know, evenly with each other. I’ll say, whoa! And then I will step back and like, go to grab a brush. But if it’s the first time I’m going to be watching them and I’m going to if they move out of place, I’m going to move it back. Say, whoa. Square those feet again and I’m going to do that. If you’ve done a lot of the groundwork out in the arena, they usually actually stand still pretty well when they feel like your attention is on them when you start grooming or if you stop to talk to somebody, even though you’re standing right there. This is when they tend to wander like their mind wanders first and then you see their feet wandering. So I move them back and I do this every day. I do this every day when I’m saddling and unsaddling. I believe in it so much that I did not create any place to tie the horses where we saddle. So it’s ground tie only and that’s what we do every single day, because I wanted to practice it, because I do it every day. What I start to notice, even with a horse like Presto, is that I start being a lot more confident in the fact that he understands when he comes to this particular location, it’s going to mean standstill.
[00:20:20] He understands because I’ve moved him back into place and because I’ve done, you know, the work that I did before. And if he if he takes a step, I’ll move him back. I do make sure that if he’s standing still, instead of just ignoring that and only correcting him when he moves and then moving him back as if he’s standing still and I turn around and get a brush a lot of times like, hey, I noticed you stood still and I’ll scratch him or, you know, I’ll be cleaning out his feet and. Like today, he was particularly good because sometimes he wants to take a step backwards. When I pick up one of his feet, he’ll step backwards with a different foot and I don’t want him doing that. So I’ll go step back forward with that other foot and be like, no, when I pick up your left rear. I only want the left rear to move. I don’t want you to rearrange a whole bunch of feet.
[00:21:07] This is assuming you were standing reasonably square, which he is, because that’s where we started. And so it’s these little detail things that I start paying attention to and he gets pretty good, impressed us pretty good when I’m around about I would say like a 10 foot bubble around him. And that’s what I tend to normally do. Now, the other day to things when I say he’s pretty good. He’s pretty good. He’s not really good. The difference in that is that I notice that there’s certain like he’ll put his head down and he’ll start looking around. And a lot of times if something like the cat catches his eye, I can just tell he just his mind just leaves and then his body starts to follow. If you’ve been listening to the podcast and you hear me talking about spooking, you’ll hear how it’s kind of a similar thing. Like his mind just goes out there and a lot of times he just kind of blanks, forgets that I’m like around and that he was given a job to do. It’s like he doesn’t retain that thought for very long. So I move him back. Not that big a deal. I walked maybe 15 feet away from them the other day to grab something and he just turned around to start walking away.
[00:22:16] So individual temperament fit into this, too, because basically what I do is I’ll start increasing the distance now due to the fact that Presto so confidently just wandered away. He didn’t wander. He just kind of like looked up and was like, look, it’s interesting outside and you started like walking away like no big deal. It was almost like he thought, you know, when I go to turn him loose outside, sometimes I wonder when I go to turn them loose in the gate. You know, a lot of times you turn them loose and you turn around to shut the gate and they turn around and walk away. That is a place to notice, because I honestly think that when I walked further out of the bubble than I have before, he just was like, oh, yeah, this is like all things are off. This is like when she turns me loose. And realistically when I look at it, that’s what he’s most used to. So if I wanted to start working on increasing the distance for Presto to ground tie, I would be a little more intentional about it, which means maybe I’ll go out, do another repeat on some of the ground work and then ground tie him.
[00:23:21] There’s a couple of ways I could do it. I could ground tie him out in the arena so that moves locations away from where I normally ground tie or I can leave him in the normal ground tie location and I can start increasing the distance on purpose without just me wandering away without a thought because they really didn’t say whoa or set him. I didn’t turn around and see him like leaning and looking at me and and I didn’t say whoa again. And those are a lot of things. A lot of times I’ll help them figure that out. But I forget what I ran out the door to do.
[00:23:49] But I like I like just stepped outside to grab something. I forget what it was. And like, I turned back around and Presto was like, see, use. It wasn’t it wasn’t personal. He was just like, I thought the whole lesson was over it. I’m just, you know.
[00:24:02] So to increase the distance, a lot of times what I’ll do is I’ll go back up and I will actually start increasing the groundwork to where it starts to look a little bit more like liberty work in the ground tie that would be involved in Liberty Work. So that’s another way that you can do it. So there is one issue I really want to mention that I’ve noticed over many, many years of ground tying horses.
[00:24:28] And it’s got to be kind of temperament driven because I know that the vast majority of this has been really strong, similar training. And I can still see that the horses tend to divide into two groups. And it’s this they tend to divide into a one of two groups. Group number one are horses that can hold onto this idea of ground tying when you are in sight, when they can see you. And then there are horses that cannot hold on to the idea very well when they lose sight of you like this. So we’ve got the ones that work. They ground tie really well with or without you there and the other ones that ground tie well when you’re there and as soon as you’re out of sight, apparently you’re out of mind. And it’s definitely like a line of sight thing. So I had one particular horse that was really pretty was really good at ground time and he could ground tie, you know, 200 feet away for me and be really reliable while I did all kinds of stuff, all kinds of activity, all kinds of stuff. But if I stepped outside of the door to go out to use the port a pot that, we have outside of the barn. He was like, you know, just like, oh, time to go graze or whatever. When you have a horse that wants to do that, you can begin to maybe enlist some other people. So I’d be like, I’d ask my husband, I’d like. OK. I’m going to step out. If he leaves, can you correct him so that he’s got this idea that it’s more of a theory of leaving, not just like a theory of me, because it’s almost like some of them have equated to like if they can see me, the rules are on.
[00:26:07] And if they can’t see me, the rules are all off. Gabby is really good at ground tying and not moving. And she picked it up fairly quickly and she holds onto it really well. Like, you know, I can leave, I can go out, I can go do a whole bunch of stuff. I can move things around and I come back and she’s really right there. And Willow holds on to it pretty good. Maybe there’s a little bit of wander, but the idea is there, I think sometimes she like wanders a little bit, just, you know, beacause she’s more food motivated, you know, but she’s reasonably right there. And then I’m pretty sure Presto will just leave. And I know that Popcorn he would. He was a little. He leaned more towards the you know, who’s around, who’s watching. Newt definitely leaned towards like, well, you know, who’s around, who’s watching. So I think that’s kind of interesting.
[00:26:58] And because I know that you mentioned ranch horses, I’m going to mention one more thing. And that is the idea that I’ve also taught horses, you know, to be hobbled. And that is something that I think is interesting because they can understand the concept of yielding their legs to pressure, which is actually super handy if they ever get their legs tangled up in something.
[00:27:22] Even if you’re not there, they can get their legs tangled up in something like wire or rope and they’ll actually stop. So I think it has practical uses like that, but it definitely has a throwback to like ranching and ranchers and hobbling horses. So when we were around a friend of ours that owns, you know, like fifty thousand acres that he goes out and gathers cattle on to stuff. And I was actually talking about Popcorn and how Popcorn is good. But if I hobble him at one end of the arena and he totally understand it and he gets it and he’s there. If I would go out of the arena, I’d come back and he would have moved. And I would ask other people, like, how did you do? And they’re like, oh, he just did a few bunny hops, not scared, very calculated. And he would just kind of move around. And I said one day to Mike, you like, what do you do like? I mean, this would not be the horse. I would want to, like, hobble, go to bed and wake up in the morning and hope it was still there, because I’m pretty sure he would have like hobbled away to go explore something. And and Mike said, yes.
[00:28:20] Some of the horses that do that are kind of more known to do that. And a lot of times were out in a group and we will hobble horses. But then like some of the horses, maybe lead horses or horses or horses known to wander. We will stake. And I was like, what does that mean? And this is like drive a stake in the ground and tie like a rope to it. So essentially it’s like tying a lead rope to a stake in the ground. But instead of it being to the horse’s head, it’s to the hobbles. I’ve never done that. I just think it’s kind of interesting to know how they handled some of those horses that are known to hobble, hobble, hobble, hobble away. And I’m definitely not saying that you guys should run out, try it. But I thought it would be interesting for you to know that this has been an issue that ranchers and and people who have, you know, 50000 acres to go have to chase down their horse, have thought about and figured out different things. And again, I’m leaning back, too. You’ll also see the ones where the horses just kind of hang out nearby. I literally think what we’re talking about when you watch those documentaries where some of the horses are loose and they’re sticking with and other horses.
[00:29:28] I think we’re talking again about what I noticed about their temperaments and the ones that divide into, you know, hey, I’m sticking around no matter what or I am off exploring. If you’re not here to hold me accountable. Sounds a little bit like grandma’s rules, doesn’t it? So thanks again for the question. And if you start putting this into use and you find more questions, more detailed questions about the hobbling process, feel free to call back again. The next voice mail recorded very quietly for some reason. So I’m going to summarize it here. But basically, Shannon responded to an email that I sent out discussing tying horses up for an hour at a time. So I’ve got an email list. If you subscribe to it over on my website, I send out weekly emails discussing different thoughts. And and I think this one said, you know, is this unfair? And she mentioned that she’s been traveling to a barn where she works a horse for the owner and that she’s because of the situation where the horse is not at the barn.
[00:30:33] She’s out all the time. She’s not around the horse very often. And the horse doesn’t like to stand. It’ll paw and work itself up. And the owner reports that the horse also does this at horse shows. And if I understood the voicemail, I think it said the horse has, you know, pawed for two hours straight, I think is what it said, but again, it was really quiet. So I kind of want to tie this idea together with the two previous questions, because we have to remember that we have the horses mind and the horses body, but they don’t have words to tell us about their mind. So their body gives us feedback about their mind. So we can also help shape the thinking of the horse by using the body. So we’ve got this back and forth that we do when we’re communicating with the horse.
[00:31:25] So because your trainer, Shannon, I’m going to share with you some more advanced thoughts to see if you can, you know, see where I’m kind of leading you to see if you can catch on to this. Everybody’s welcome to see if you can catch on to the line of thinking here. But here’s something I noticed. I noticed years ago that I would have horses in training and I would go out into the arena and I would be training a horse using the groundwork that I’ve mentioned earlier. And I’m going to call this horse number one. And I would work horse number one.
[00:32:00] And then I would tie them in the corner of my arena and they would begin pawing and carrying on. And I would go get another horse and I would start teaching horse number two groundwork. So I’m out there and I’m in the arena and it’s, you know, starting out kind of like an easy and horse number one is tied in the corner or pawing and doing whatever it’s doing. And I’m kind of ignoring it. But horse number two, when I get to the point with horse number two, where I start whipping the ground around horse number two, I would notice the horse number one would also stand still because horse number one knows the answer to that question. And this is a line of thinking I want to introduce versus giving you absolute direct instruction. I like it when I give you guys like a a thought process to continue. And so while back, I talked about expecting my horses to recognize me when I’m in their presence. And so I think I was talking about catching them in the field in one of the episodes. But basically, here’s the idea. I expect the horses to acknowledge my presence. Now, some horses that might be when I open the stall door and I go in, they’re going to recognize me at some point, like maybe when I enter that space that they’re in.
[00:33:23] But. They might, you know, recognize me further back than that because I’m look at it like this, the horse has a bubble around it and you’ll know that horse is a bubble because you can watch the horse turned out with another horse and you’ll notice when the horses are noticing each other, like, is this horse only recognizing and acknowledging horses that are, you know, within biting and kicking distance or they acknowledging horses from way far away like there’s a bubble. You can see it working with horse to horse or horse to human. As the training deepens, the bubble should expand. So what that means is my barn layout happens to be that my stalls are open into my riding arena, which means that I’m within sight a fair amount of the time. So because I’m within sight, a fair amount of the time and because of this carryover effect, I was just telling you about where maybe I’m working with one horse, but I’m I’m also making sure that I’m aware of what’s going on around. If I’m working a horse and I notice it’s really a horse and a stall is like really freaked out about it. I’m not going to just ignore that and let that horse practice that. I’m going to be like, oh, geez, that horse this needs to be addressed with this horse needs some help mentally not understanding this.
[00:34:41] Maybe it’s new and it just showed up. And, you know, it feels like me whipping the ground around Gabby, you know, 100 feet away, feels like pressure to that horse that’s in the stall. And so I’ll notice that and I will address it by bringing that horse out and teaching that horse how to understand it. But when the horses first come, a lot of times they don’t recognize me and my presence and my bubble until I’m very close to their bubble. But the game is to figure out how to keep expanding those bubbles. So when I mentioned horse number one tied in the corner, horse number two being worked and you notice there’s a carry over there, I’m not suggesting that you should tie a horse up and then whip around somewhere else because you could very likely cause a problem if the horse doesn’t really not a tie. And the problem with that a lot of times is people are being very direct, like their intention is being like staring at the horse that side over in the stall. What I am suggesting is that you notice at what point the horse notices you. So I’m picturing this horse from the voicemail that it gets tied up and it’s tied in the stall. And let’s go back to the day that a pawed for two hours straight.
[00:35:55] Now, I’ve watched a lot of horses and I have watched a horse that I believe probably tied up, you know, pawed for about two hours straight. What’s interesting, you have to watch that horse because they very rarely paw two hours absolutely straight with rhythm. There’s usually breaks in the rhythm. There’s also usually changes in the intensity. And this doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about the horse pawing the ground or whether we’re talking about the horse in general. What I’m talking about when I talk about the intensity in this example is that this is a reflection of the mind. So if you tie the horse up and it’s flipping its body around, so it’s swinging to the left and swinging to the right and swinging to the left, a swing to the right and pawing in and rearing and banging the ground. It’s really swinging and hitting the ground and striking the wall. And it’s really that’s one level of pawing. Then you can also have a horse stand there and just paw like little two inch paw was like little paw paw paw paw paw little light quick. It matters. And where it matters because if nothing else, you need to learn more about like who this horse is at their core. But now you’ve got to start being a little more curious about what pieces of this you see when you’re out doing your groundwork.
[00:37:08] And also notice that let’s say you didn’t have two hours. Let’s say that you had an hour and then you had to go because of some other circumstance. So you were like, well, that stinks. I wanted you to be standing still when I untied you. But I’ve got to untie you now so that you walk over to the stall. You open up the stall door. Do you notice they hesitate and prick their ears? Do you notice that they stop and look when somebody else leads a different horse by look for smaller things that you could reward also rather than having one tied for the whole entire times? A lot of times what I’ll do if I see one that’s gonna be that persistent is I will do ground work. I will tie them up there, stand there. paw paw paw paw. A lot of times again, if I open up the door and go to go in. Usually they stop pawing at some point. Whether that is like as you reach to unhook the leader up or when you open the door, there’s generally some moment there. Just observe this for now. So but go in, unhook the horse, be like, oh, I get it. You don’t want to stand tied. You want more work.
[00:38:13] Let’s go do another round of ground work. Round of ground work horses. Like I actually wanted to go out in the pasture, but here we are. So you’ll actually find a different level of resistance on round two. Usually then round one, because at this point they’re like clearly trying to indicate to you that was not the answer. Not another round of groundwork. And then when you do another ground round groundwork and they’re doing pretty good. Your time in the stall and let’s assume the horse starts pouring again. Ppaw paw paw paw, dig, dig, dig, flipping around, whatever. Please notice when you were leaving the stall how quickly that started. Did the horse almost run you over? Like as soon as the snap hooked and you went to step, did the horse almost take you out? Because if it did, it’s telling you your groundwork out in the arena is not strong enough because it shouldn’t be that aggressive. But let’s just say it’s a mild look at some mildly annoying pawing. Mildly annoying pawing is happening. You leave, you go out, check Facebook, sit around, talk to your friends, do something for ten or fifteen minutes, pay attention to weather when somebody else walks by. If the horse stops, if the horse stops for a minute, even if it’s because they whinny and pause to listen.
[00:39:22] Go untie them. You can untie them as a release. Or if they don’t stop, you can go on, tie them and be like, oh, I get it. You want another round or groundwork. So you go to another 10 minutes, a groundwork. And at this point, they’re usually slightly upset with you because you’ve never done three rounds of groundwork. Even if it’s only 10 minutes apiece, they’re like, oh, give me you the pasture. And you’re really like, oh, sorry, that’s not one of the answers, but we can do this groundwork again and then we’re going to tie you up again. That’s how I would use my two hour period. If I had a two hour period with a very persistent horse, I’ll be very kind and I will go back and forth and back and forth and I will gather so much information about where they report the bubble is. As I’m leaving the stall and where they report the bubble is when I’m entering the stall. And so that I think is a lot of information, even though it’s not a step by step. I think you guys can get a lot out of that if you stop and think about where that bubble is, how there can be carry over, explore that idea, explore grandmama’s rules and, you know, for you know, for for for this question.
[00:40:33] Also, keep in mind that when the trainers working the horse versus the owner, total grandmoms rule situation, guys, that’s what I have for you today. If you want to leave a message. Visit my website. There’s an orange tab on the right hand side. You can click it, leave your voicemail. Thanks for listening. And I’ll talk to you again in the next episode.
[00:40:56] If you enjoy listening to Stacy’s podcast, please visit Stacy Westfall dot com for articles, videos and tips to help you and your horse succeed.
Links mentioned in podcast:
The Trail to the World Show: Episode 3
Stacy’s Video Diary: Jac full playlist