How do I make the cross ties or hitching post or tacking up area at the barn safe?
For the sake of simplicity, I’ll call the “cross tie” area wherever it is you groom and tack up - it could be a hitching post or a tie ring, also. Because I know for certain that some of you can’t stand cross ties one little bit. ONWARD! The answer to this lies in a two part discussion. One, your horse needs to be trained to stand quietly. Two, the cross ties themselves better be safe, and the area around them needs to be safe.
It’s up to you to train your horse stand. There are loads of ways to do this. I always advocate one of reward and patience, and it comes along with grooming and caring for your horse every single day in the same manner. Repetition works, as does praise. You can glean ideas from this gem about helping your Farrier not get kicked in the head.
Now it’s cross tie time. And what I’m about to describe is an ideal situation - which of course don’t always exist, but do what you can.
George here can peek around if he needs to.
The actual ties need to be a proper length so your horse has some range of motion in his head and neck. This allows him to see a bit more, which is good for the sensitive horse that might react to things he hears and can’t see. A little bit of movement is necessary for him to communicate what feels good. If he can’t move, you are the one with the disadvantage.
The ties should have some sort of safety mechanism to them to break away in case of an emergency. More on that here - including types of buckles and snaps to use. If you have a panicked horse freaking out in the cross ties - you won’t be able to use any quick release snaps if they are attached to his halter - too much movement and flying legs Put the safety and quick release snaps at the wall for easy removal. AND - you have a build in lead rope.
Quick release snap at the wall and a safety Equi-Ping for good measure.
I love a cross tie area with a back wall. Nothing says “I (maybe) can’t flip over” and “I can’t escape backwards” more than a wall at the butt.
The cross tie bay should be wide. Ideally, wide enough for him to comfortably walk into and fully turn around without rubbing a rail, wall, or cabinet. If that’s not the case, teach him to back into the space if there is indeed three sides to the cross tie area.
The footing should be safe and level. Concrete can get slippery. Unlevel floors don’t give your farrier a fair picture of the hooves. Dirt floors get muddy. Mats are a super addition to a cross tie area. I have seen some with gravel also, but be weary of stone bruises. Mats over gravel seem to be a good compromise for drainage and hoof comfort.
Super wide, and with a butt bar of sorts. A wall might be better?
Keep cabinets and supply areas well clear of horse hooves and noses. The tighter the space, the better it is for cabinets to be outside of the cross tie space. You might be able to hang some hooks for frequently used items like hoof picks and lead ropes.
Bonus items to have around the cross ties:
- muck tub and manure rake for poops
- hose bib for bit dunking water and hosing out big messes
- electrical outlet so you don’t need to drag over the extension cord for clipping
- bridle hooks