Training Rowan to tie, part deux

It’s been a while since the weather has been nice enough to do much with Rowan, but I got out for a few minutes today and gave her another tying lesson. She was pretty emotional from the moment I tied her. I used the Aussie tie ring, put the lead rope through just once, and moved to the other side of the fence. My plan at this point is to reinforce her for standing still, and not for just loosening the rope. I don’t want her to learn that she can tighten and then loosen the rope to “make” me treat her.

She really had a hard time standing still. She paced and turned a lot. However, she was good with the rope, untangling it from her face and immediately loosening it when it got taut. Just a couple of times did she truly try to pull back and get away. Those times, when she released, I offered her reinforcement. She was frustrated, and she did a bit of rearing. I didn’t worry about it for the most part — she has to work through the emotional stuff and figure out that being tied isn’t such a torturous thing. One time, however, she got the rope over her poll, and then reared and twisted, and if I hadn’t released the rope. she’d have gone over backwards. Fortunately, she came down forward and didn’t pull the rope completely out of the tie ring, so she never actually got loose.

That stunt scared her a bit, I think, because after that I got a lot of opportunities to treat her for standing still, and we were able to quit on a high note. I called Leslie afterwards, and she said I was doing it right, more or less. She suggested that I teach her that pressure on her poll is a cue to drop her head, so she won’t hurt herself in a panic if she gets the rope over her head.

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