Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Those Old Cowboys Were On To Something

I learned a lot of my horsemanship in the tradition of the old time American cowboys.  Both sides of my family have several generations of cowboys, and cowboy wisdom, in them.  Now, I will be the first to admit that there are some questionable techniques in the cowboy repertoire.  But, there are questionable techniques in every discipline.  I don't feel that a few questionable techniques are a good enough reason to completely disregard an entire body of knowledge. 

And so I pick and choose what I want to take from my cowboy education.  Just like I pick and choose what I want to take from my dressage education.  I tailor my training technique to suit the horse I'm training and the goal I want to achieve.

Case in point:  Ground tying.  Ground tying is something you don't really see in the English riding world.  For those unfamiliar with it, it's where a horse is trained so that you can drop the reins or lead rope and the horse will stay put, just as though you had tied him up.  It's sort of like teaching a dog to "Stay". 

I taught Spider to do it soon after I bought him, because I discovered he had a bit of a problem with claustrophobia (more on that here).   Essentially, Spider panics if there is too much pressure on his poll (like, when he hits the end of his lead rope).  This led to a lot of broken halters and cross ties.  I got tired of replacing them, so I taught him to ground tie.  Problem solved.  If there's no pressure, there's no panic and he stands quite nicely.

Yesterday, as I was just getting ready to mount up, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten my phone in the house.  I never ride without my phone.  So, now I had a problem:  What to do with my tacked up horse while I ran into the house to get my phone?

Lucky thing Spider ground ties.  I brought him up on the carport, parked him next to the truck and ran into the house to grab my phone.  And he waited patiently for my return.

My cowboy ancestors would be proud.  Although, they'd probably wonder why I'm so darn attached to that silly phone!


  1. awww! What a good boy. I need to work with Hampton more on this. Most of the time he does great but I wouldn't call him 100% reliable yet.

  2. What a good boy, I'll have to teach my horses to do that. :)

  3. Love. It.

    Ground tying in the double. You don't see that every day.

  4. Ground tying is super useful. I don't know very many TBs that are really trustworthy ground tied but I teach them anyway.
    There are lots of cowboy skills that make horses better educated.

  5. Haven't worked my Boys much in this, but taught my first horse, a TB to ground tie reliably too. Tradition has the reins on the ground, but that's not exactly safe with an English bridle, so your technique is perfect.

    What an angel Spider is. And yes, when you ride alone, that cell phone is important. (Yet I keep forgetting to carry mine....*sigh*...Guess I need a New Year's resolution.)

  6. Great idea. A good winter project too.

  7. Brilliant post. I agree Cowvoys or other working riding have great techniques (and some less great) for evryday with our horses. And ANY breed can learn it.

    Ground tying ... Please Shannon can you email me your step-by-step? It is something I do not know how to do.

    Thanks ^-^

  8. Awww he's so cute!!! What a smart boy. I'm in the process of teaching Chrome to ground tie. As young as he is it will probably be a while before he is totally reliable just because of his attention span. :)


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