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Hobbling Horses

hobblesThere seems to be a lot of opinions on restraining horses. Some people think it’s the worst thing you could ever do to a horse. Others think it’s the first thing you should do.

I’m kind of in the middle on this one. Sometimes people are too quick to restrain a horse. Some people never do, but I think they should.

In the natural horsemanship world, it’s usually frowned on to restrain a horse. The problem I see with that is, too many people let it get to be a contest. When it gets to be a contest between you and your horse, the horse will usually win.

Ray Hunt taught me a valuable lesson on this, quite a few years ago. A lady brought her horse into a clinic with a bandage around it’s ankle. Ray asked her about it. She said the horse had a cut there, it was better now, but the horse wouldn’t let her get the bandage off. Ray said let me see. He watched the lady chase her horse around in circles for a few minutes and then said  let me try.

The first thing he did was put a rope around the horse’s foot, lift it and take a few dallies around the saddle horn. The horse struggled for a little bit, then gave in. The horse then stood quietly while Ray took the bandage off. He explained a lot about how it had got to be a contest between her and the horse, and the horse was winning.

I personally like to hobble break my horses. I don’t like the idea of grazing hobbles. When I hobble my horses, I want them to know they can’t move.

I start a lot of colts. I usually get them saddled without restraining them, unless they’ve had a bad experience, and learned to get away. Still later on in their training, I’ll usually get them use to the hobbles.

Before I put hobbles on a horse, I’ll put a rope around his feet and get him used to it. I’ll also get them giving to pressure on their feet from the rope. When I put the hobbles on for the first time, I’ll do it in a safe place. Maybe in a big round pen. I’ll stay there with the horse, holding the lead rope, and try to keep the horse out of trouble.

After a few times the horse usually figures it out, and will stand quiet. This is a good thing for your horse to know. If you ride outside a lot, sometimes there isn’t a good place to tie a horse. Also, if your horse gets a foot caught in some wire or something he’s more likely to stand there and not get hurt, if he’s learned to give.

I had a horse brought to me one time that had learned to jump out from under the saddle when it landed on his back. This was the only way I could teach him it was alright.

I guess everyone will have to decide for themselves, but I think hobble breaking a horse is a good thing, if it’s done properly.