dancing horses

dancing horses

Monday, February 22, 2016

Carmen Resists Temptation

As you may recall I've been working on getting Carmen to ground tie. Not in the  'stay here in this field while I go get this cow to brand' way but more like 'please stand still without being tied to things' way. I just want her to stay in place while I do things with her and putter around the barn. 

The first few times she just didn't get it and was confused. Then she understood what I was asking but didn't think it was relevant. I got to a certain point in the fall where she would stand after the ride (mostly because she was tired). But that was fine- it was all part of the 'make the right thing easy' approach that I like so much. 

I then kinda ignored it over the December-January months. Not on purpose, just that life got in the way. Then last week when I was bringing her out for her groom and she was being very kind to me I decided to work on it again. It only took a couple reminders that I wanted her to stand in this spot and she just relaxed and let me groom her all over. I can tell her to 'whoa', drop the lead line and then do all sorts of things and she doesn't move. 

Last week when we had the 'big thaw' there was a lot of mud so I decided to put some Cowboy Magic in her tail to help repel the mud. I wasn't really think it through as I stood at her hind end and gave a spritz of the bottle. She scooted forward. 
'what the hell are you doing back there?'
'oops. Sorry, just detangling your tail'
'well stop it!'

Carmen does not like to be sprayed. I grabbed the lead line as she headed to her stall and brought her back. I could have put the cross ties on but that seemed like caving. So, holding the lead line loosely in one hand I started to spray her tail. The dogs were quite amused, I'm sure, watching Carmen and I go in a circle. All I wanted her to do was stop but I didn't stop spraying when she stopped. The idea is that she learns that the spray is no-big-deal and if I stop when she stops then she's not learning the right thing. Instead, when she stopped I praised her while I sprayed a few more times and then stopped. When I started she moved again but this time only circled a few times before she decided to stop. The next time she didn't move. 
Clever girl

What I was happy with was that at no time did she pull away. The lead line was completely slack in my hand. 

So the night after my lesson I brought her out to fuss over. It was right before I give the night feed of hay and beet pulp.  She stood and never moved but I could feel her body leaning away. I stopped by her head and she nuzzled my hand and then looked at the hay, then nuzzled my hand and looked at the hay. Her whole body language was saying 'just let me move 5 feet to the hay pile and I won't move a muscle.' 

I understood but asked her to stay where she was. After all the lesson is not to stand as long as it's convenient. She sighed and lowered her head. I went back to picking out her hind feet and she never moved. So after I groomed her a bit I grabbed a small bit of hay and put it where she was standing. No idea if that was a good thing to do or not but I wanted her to have a reward for being so good. 

standing like a trained horse. Also ignoring the BC who thinks he's helping


  1. She's standing really well. Standing untied has always been a hard one for me to teach horses. My gelding will stand without being tied. Up until someone tempts him with food. And all other people are potential food givers. So he'll stand around just fine until someone comes over to talk to me and then he'll go check them out because they might have food.

  2. My first memory of "ground tying" was this: I had Cowboy in training at our barn for a week, and while he was out, I was cleaning his stall. All of a sudden, I hear a horse running over the concrete breezeway and I walked out of the stall just in time for Cowboy to run in....his trainer walking behind with a frustrated look on her face telling me, "Apparently, he doesn't know how to ground tie!" Sometimes he did, sometimes he didn't.

  3. She's doing very well. You know that I do the same with Tex. He's particularly good when I go into the tack room to get something; that's where the cookies live.

  4. I discovered that Gambler could ground tie when teaching my brother how to play the circling game over a tarp. There were a few poles on the tarp to hold it down and Gambler knocked one over. Instead of leading Gambler over or asking me to hold him, my brother threw the 22' line on the ground and told Gambler to "stay." I wasn't expecting Gambler to obey. He did - with the most comical look on his face. I laughed so hard I cried. We've been practicing ever since. Some days are better than others.

  5. She is going so well, what a good girl! :)


Thank you for leaving a comment. I love the feedback.