Yes, tying is an important life skill that your horse should learn.

But despite those who shout it loudly, tying them up for hours at a time until they “learn to behave” isn’t training.

Does it work? All those proponents of a “patience pole” or “patience wall” will tell you that it does. And if all you care about is that the horse will stand tied without fussing, then yes, in many cases it does “work.”

But it works because the horse learns that nothing they do makes any difference. They try to pull, and paw, and dance, and call, and they try it all again until they’re exhausted and they give up.

It works using flooding and learned helplessness, not because the horse understands and is comfortable with what’s being asked of them.

It works by inflicting a huge amount of stress on the horse, the memory of which will never leave them, even as they’re “being good” standing tied years later.

And then there’s the whole idea of it. Why *should* a horse have to stand tied quietly for hours at a time with nothing to occupy them? Sure, there might be situations where they have to stand tied for a longer period of time, but who said they couldn’t be munching on a hay bag while they wait? Horses are grazing animals, they’re supposed to be eating forage most of their time.

I couldn’t stand (or even sit!) for hours without something to occupy me. Heck, I can’t sit for hours without fidgeting even WITH something to occupy me – my old bones and joints need me to at least shift my position regularly, stretch, go for a wander, get a glass of water or a snack.

Why do we expect more from our horses than we do of ourselves?

Yes, your horse should tie, but they should learn it, gradually, with a hay net and a friend, with reinforcement for relaxation, not just by being tied up until they give up. There’s no reason any horse should have to stand tied for hours without food or water, just so we can prove they will.


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