Dancing on Crossties – Lucky Braids

Dancing on Crossties

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Teaching a horse to stand still is not just a matter of convenience. If your equine can’t relax on the ties, he won’t win. He doesn’t have the quiet confidence that will allow him to focus.

It is possible that no one ever asked your horse to DO NOTHING before. So, its default may be to look and look, question and question his surroundings. Think about it. You probably know people who are always wanting more. Are they ever happy? By teaching a horse to just Be still inside, you are opening up a world of peace and connection.

The first step in teaching a horse to stand, is making your intentions clear. The best means hinges on timing. Your most effective tool is a deep, visceral hiss or growl. It must come from the depths of your gut. You need to MEAN IT. Clarity is a wonderful thing. Horses hear your feelings and thoughts, so if you are not totally committed to the message, they won’t bother to buy in. Mean it, NOT mean.

To teach a horse to stand, intercept his thoughts. That is, when he THINKS about moving, give a QUICK, STRONG AND VISCERAL hiss or growl. To time it, tune into his body language. When his ear or weight begin to shift, intercept with the darting sound. It will to grab his focus and he’ll plant his feet. If you can execute three well-timed corrections in a row, he’ll get it. So, focus more on the horse than anything else. You need to be consistent. Correct him each time he thinks about moving.

If he does move, immediately put him back where you want him and soften your hand. Patting can be distracting. They don’t do that in nature. Promptly press or pull him to where you started and soften the energy in your hand, whether it is on his body or the halter. Good energy is very effective positive reinforcement. It says more than words.

If you consistently time your deep-gutted corrections well, at first your horse or pony will just freeze and try to be a soldier. He’ll be questioning his environment, but without moving. In short time, he’ll put his head down and relax. Once he understands the best thing to do is NOTHING, he’ll start to connect to what you are doing and enjoy himself. I promise. Once he understands what is expected, he’ll relax.

It is important to remember that currying is not optional. It is pivotal to your horse’s well-being. We all do things for the right reason. Horses that use currying as an excuse to dance, need to know it is not an option. To help sensitive horses, start softly. It will get blood into the muscles, which will warm them up. Then, you can give it some elbow grease and insist the horse stand. Remember, tune into the horse and be consistent about counteracting his thoughts.

In this image, you don’t see the handlers. HOWEVER, they are nearby. NO TRUE HORSEMAN would leave horses on ties unattended. If you need walk away, ALWAYS ask someone to keep an eye on your animal until you return. Don’t open the door to disaster. Be proactive and safe. Horses should not be left alone when tied, NO MATTER how quiet they are. NEVER leaving a tied horse unattended is one of those hard and fast rules of sound horsemanship.

On the rails, you see bandage inners and towels drying, because it is important to always use clean wraps and towels. Impurities on bandages can be carried into the blood stream. So, wraps are never put on the floor and kept clean. Your best defense against scratches is to only put bone dry legs in or out. Clean towels make for crud-free legs. The friction of actually toweling (versus a fan) promotes soundness. Scratches can turn into systemic infections, so always using CLEAN TOWELS and THOROUGHLY DRYING LEGS are hard and fast rules of sound horsemanship.


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Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.

As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.

The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.

Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.

It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on LuckyBraids.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.

*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Whitener Spray Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.