Did you know that Thoroughbred racehorses are never cross tied? They are typically tied in the back of their stall while their grooms work on them.
Introduce cross tying to your new OTTB when there is little or no activity in the barn. He’s used to being tied in his stall where it’s quiet and safe. It’s best to begin cross tying in a grooming stall or stall, since they are used to being tied in the stall they are not accustomed to being tied in an area with traffic or activity around them. Introducing this new way of being tied in an aisle way will make it much harder to avoid mishaps. My advice is if you don’t have a grooming stall, set up cross ties in his stall and begin the lessons there.
At Leighton Farm, I begin by putting the horse in the grooming stall. I tie him with
one cross tie and leave the rope lead shank on. I have an assistant hold it, standing
in front of the horse. I feed him peppermints or other treats. The goal is for the
horse to understand that this is simply a new place to be groomed and tacked up. I
slowly groom him and put the tack on. If everything goes well—and it usually does,
the second day I put both cross ties on and use an assistant to stand in front of the horse. Inevitably the horse will walk forward and his head will be flinged up at least one time. I want to prevent this
the first couple days until he is comfortable with this new type of tying.
I normally keep the lead rope on the horse for the first week or so, draping
it over his neck. After day two, I no longer need an assistant.
Once he is comfortable with cross tying, I start doing it in the aisle way. I choose a
time when things are quiet the first few times. I have had very few problems doing it
this way and usually have the horse reliably cross ties in about a week to ten days.
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