Cross Tie Behaviors

One of my biggest pet peeves at the barn is a horse that wiggles and moves around in the cross ties.  Makes me bonkers, and can have negative effects on your horse’s legs, hooves, not to mention your barn flooring or your own toes.  How can you deter your horse from this habit?


I invited our friend Kassie from A-Schuerr-Thing Horse Training to weigh in on what works for her and her horses.  Here’s what she reports:

Training takes time and a commitment to make sure the horse and Groom and rider are safe from the time they leave their pens until the time they go back into the pens after lessons, exercise, turnout, or handling. From the minute you reach the facility, your horse is looking for you, and the “dance” begins.  You are either training your horse good behaviors or you are teaching them bad behaviors, don’t rush to ride or get through chores.  Take a little time to do the necessary training to make sure everyone is safe.


To help horses understand to stand in the cross ties, you can follow these guidelines:

 1.  The horse needs to be taught that if they start fidgeting in the cross ties they will be instantly required to move their feet forward, backward, left and right.  Take them off the cross ties and hustle their feet backwards out of the alley way of the barn or cross-tie area to anywhere you have enough space to hustle their feet.  I will do this in as little space as 20 feet, they will turn on a dime when they have to disengage their hips pivoting on the front foot.  The timing is the important factor, be prepared to disconnect them quickly and move their feet fast.  We only have 3 seconds to reward or reprimand, otherwise the horse doesn’t know what part of the behavior they did right or wrong.  You will need to keep the lead rope attached to make this happen quickly!

2.  After getting the signs of submissive respect (licking lips, lowering head, cocking leg and deep sigh), take the horse back to the cross ties. 


3.   Continue on with grooming, if the horse gets fidgety again, repeat moving his/her feet quickly.  You want to “dare” him to move, so you can correct the bad behavior and be quick about the action to reprimand the unwanted behavior.  Remember, you have a 3 second window to correct or reward your horses behavior.  Make it count!  Reward the positive behavior when they are tied, standing nicely will result in grooming, and resting his feet.  

You may only need one or two days of repeating the above steps to make a change.  Remember to be consistent!  We cannot physically make the horse stand still, but we can encourage them to stand still by hustling their feet if they have the energy to do the 'wrong thing' or undesirable behaviors."


I believe that any horse can be taught just about anything - IF we remember to always be fair, consistent, and clear.  No room for mixed signals here!


Thanks Kassie for your insights!!  You can learn more about Kassie and A-Schuerr-Thing Horse Training on Facebook, also!