The other day after we finished our ride, I walked Ella down the alley of the barn towards the ties, only to realize that I forgot her halter and leadrope in the arena. I wasn’t about to clip the tie to her hackamore, and didn’t want to drag her back over there. Luckily, she’s great at ground tying. I firmly told her to “whoa” and went back for her halter. She turned her head saying “hey, where are you going?” but didn’t move an inch. When I came back, she was in the exact same spot! Good girl, Ella 😊
Ground tying is something that every horse should know but is often bypassed in training. It comes in handy if you forget something like I did, if you need to step inside really quick, check out some terrain before asking your horse to cross, etc. There are so many situations where it proves valuable!
When I’m training young horses, or even horses for a tune up, I always have some ground tying lessons mixed in with my groundwork. Once a horse knows “whoa” and basic groundwork, they can learn to ground tie. The process is really quite simple. I ask for the horse to stay by putting slight pressure on the halter, dropping the leadrope, and saying “whoa.” Then I’ll walk away – only a few steps at first. If the horse takes more than one step, I simply put them back where they were and ask again. Once they start to understand, you can reward them with a treat, scratches, whatever you’d like. Just make sure that you are only rewarding the horse if they stay in their spot. You can increase the distance between you and your horse until you can go anywhere, and your horse will stay.