What is the best way to teach a horse to remain patient and quiet when tied?

“What is the best way to teach a horse to remain patient and quiet when tied?-Joann L.”Patience is not simply the ability to wait - it's how we behave while we're waiting.

If you are referring to a horse that digs holes, moves around and calls for friends; most of the time the answer is ‘more of it’, meaning they need to be tied more. Lets look at Newt, shown here in these photos, as an example.

Newt has been trained to tie from the time he was a weanling. He had all of his groundwork done and he spent the first two years of his life living in a pasture with other horses. He was tied on-and-off during this time. He is lazy by nature.

When I started training him under saddle at the age of two I would tie him for about an hour after each work session. This was generally in his stall. He was pretty normal meaning; he did some pawing, as evidenced by the bedding being moved, but this went away within a couple of months. Sometimes I would tie him in the indoor and when the weather was warmer I tied him outside after working him. These locations made him more likely to paw.

Newt started being hauled more when he was three and four. That is where he excelled at pawing. From the time he was loaded until the trailer moved he would paw. He would stop pawing when the trailer moved…but you could feel him resume if you stopped at a light. It became a running joke because the boys started ‘pawing’ in the backseat of the truck in imitation.Horse pawing displaying a lack of patience. Digging like a machine!

To combat this I wouldn’t unload him until he took a break. Sometimes that meant I would leave him on the trailer for 30 minutes or more after I arrived at a destination. I also learned to load him on the front so we could unload everyone else while Newt stayed behind for ‘training’. I still continued tying him in the stall or around the property after workouts. The pawing didn’t happen at all in the stall, was slowing down when tied in different places but was still there in the trailer.

Newt is now five. When we moved to Texas I went on a mission to stop the pawing. Some people say you can hobble them or put chains on but I wanted to get him to mentally choose to stop. I wanted him to learn patience. Newt is hobble trained because I wanted him to know that skill but I chose not to use it during these patience lessons.

Newt was turned out with other horses more after moving to Texas, which I like, but it aggravated the pawing some. Because he was turned out instead of being in a stall I also lost the ability to tie him in his stall after a workout. Maybe that added to the pawing but either way…Newt was on a mission. It was almost comical to watch because he would diligently begin digging, you couldn’t have trained one to have this kind of rhythm. I learned to ride him early so he could stay tied longer. I even tied a rope in a tree so I could tie him in different locations after his daily workouts. Some days I thought he was improving, other days- not so much.

Horse pawing displaying a lack of patience.On top of this I happened to start hauling him a lot. He was hauled to Texas in February. Hauled round trip from Texas to Ohio and back in April. And round trip from Texas to Ohio and back again in May. Each one way trip is just over 1,100 miles, for a grand total of 5,500 miles. In between hauling I was still riding and tying him out. By May I noticed a huge improvement everywhere; while tied out, at shows and even in the trailer he was pretty much not pawing.

Now he pretty much doesn’t paw. I just had him tied yesterday because I saddled up and realized that lunch was ready. I tied him, saddled, in a strange barn away from all of his pasture mates. The surface was sawdust, making it easy to see if he pawed. Nothing. He was tied for an hour and looked like a pro. I joked that if I wasn’t careful he would be mistaken for one of the camp horses and be headed down the trail before I got back.

Most horses aren’t this diligent, but some are. Work and time are my favorite training methods for this. Also being aware of when you are untying them is important because untying them is a reward.

It is also interesting to note that horses can regress in this area also. Popcorn was excellent at this but I haven’t been riding him regularly and he has become fond of his pasture mates. He was tied in the same sawdust floor yesterday and dug a nice sized hole by the time I got back. Can you guess what I have planned in his future?

camp horses have learned to stand quietly tied





  1. Tina on February 26, 2022 at 3:07 pm

    My horseDoes not stand stillAt the hitching Pole she paws and the starts jumping up like she is going to rear she stands sideways olong with the pole her but facing other horse I can’t tie her up near others

  2. Kassi Gutierrez on July 27, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for the info, how do you apply this to a horse that paws as an attention getting device? I have a 3 yr old Friesian cross mare, that like Newt, has been tied off & on since she was a baby, but she is very people oriented and buddy sour although she is in a 3 acre paddock by herself.
    She will stand quietly as long she is being handled, but turn away from her & the pawing & “parking” of the front starts.
    Love your work.

  3. Lyndsey on July 26, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Thank you!!! I got home late from a show last night to immediately see your post in my news feed. I’m on the journey of getting my show mare back in the game. She is like Popcorn and had definitely regressed in the area of tying. I have been racking my brain that I might be missing something… It’s great to know we are on the right track…. Just need more! Love your blog and videos! Thank you for being and amazing role model in the industry!

  4. Rebecca on July 25, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    LOVE that you quoted Joyce Meyer!!! Maybe you should read Popcorn some of her books! Now Popcorn, it is written….. ” Be anxious for nothing, but for everything through prayer and thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God.” ….. you should be thankful, Popcorn, you are not one of those 1800’s wild west horses, that worked all day in the sun, got tied up in full tack all day when not working, and tied to the hitching post all night while your owner is in the saloon, and still expected to cart your owner home at midnight…. yep yep!

    Our family joke….. He is digging to china, where people actually feed their horses/are nice to their horses/horses aren’t expected to work. That might be why Newt was inspecting his pile… “How far have I gotten?”

  5. horseworthy on July 25, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Horse Worthy and commented:
    This is a great article. Not even the pro’s have overnight success all the time. Everything is a work in progress.

  6. Lori B. on July 25, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I have been diligent. Some horses learn to behave…but what do you do with the ones that don’t? Do you have any ‘fix-it’s’ up your sleeve? The horses that really act up are a serious nuisance to the other folks at shows, and in the remote camps where I go…and some of them are actually in danger of hurting themselves. I am a big believer in tying them up LOTS when they are at home, and cautious about when I ‘reward them’ by untying them and doing something else, and some of these horses are really good at home…however, when they scream and carry on when I am on the road, I feel sorry for the people in the vicinity of the ruckus, and it is an embarrassment! Any thoughts? Thanks so much!!

  7. Stacey Cocks on July 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    That was great to read… I have just rescued and off the track thoroughbred, he is quiet as a mouse in every way, to handle, to ride he is a beautiful horse…. but he is extremely impatient, he paws constantly while tied up…. but he worst problem is when you take him for a ride and ask him to stop and relax…. he stops no worries but he can’t stand still and just relax mid ride… he works himself up something shocking. Any suggestions for helping him to relax when having to wait out on a ride would be very appreciated 🙂

  8. Barb on July 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    This is good information but I have a horse that paws only while eating grain other wise she will stand quietly tied.

  9. sierra529 on July 25, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I would love to do this with my horse.. Unfortunately when he feels he has been tied long enough, he pulls his head up and back until something breaks and he is loose. I thought about using a rope halter and lead line without any breakable buckles or snaps, but I was afraid he might hurt himself. Any advice in this situation?

    • Stacy on July 31, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I would double check all the groundwork exercises I reviewed in the Jac series but, I also think that some horses can benefit from the <a href="Blocker Tie Ring II – Stainless Steel [Misc.]” title=”blocker tie ring on Amazon”>’Blocker’ tie rings, etc. I would rather prevent them from forming the habit in the first place but sometimes that isn’t possible.

  10. Kristy on July 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Do you feel that have a horse that digs while being tied does better when having moral support from a mellow non-digger? I often use my old cutting horse and place her next to other horses to mellow them out. She was retired into a brood mare for a time so she does not like other horses loving on her and puts horses in their place kindly but firm. Then I wean her off of them and it seems to work, they pick up her mellow attitude, like she is a good role model. Just curious is that is why Newt was behaving. He had an entire row of models. Just like at school when you have a peer.

    • Stacy on July 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Kristy-Newt had stopped the digging before this photo with all the horses…and when he was in ‘digging’ mode he did it with other horses around also:)

      I can see how they could benefit from another quiet horse. It would probably be like adding another step, they may still regress some when they are on their own eventually but maybe not. It is interesting how some never really care and others are just persistent.

  11. Janette on July 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Awesome!! Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Comment




100% Private - 0% Spam

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

No one taught you the skills you need to work through these things.

Riders often encounter self-doubt, fear, anxiety, frustration, and other challenging emotions at the barn. The emotions coursing through your body can add clarity, or can make your cues indistinguishable for your horse.

Learning these skills and begin communicating clearly with your horse.

Click here to learn more.



Get the free printable guide

    Download now. Unsubscribe at anytime.