One of the most important commands a horse should be taught and also one of the simplest for a horse to learn is ground tying. Ground tying a horse means your horse stands still whenever a lead rope or rein is on the ground. A very effective and handy tool to use during trail riding when you may need to dismount and move away from your horse to possible assist another rider, pick something up that was dropped, or perhaps to answer the call of nature. It’s not much fun to get off your horse and have him take off running back to the trailer.
Just as with any training goal, the best way to achieve success is repetition in training. Begin your training by having your haltered horse in an enclosed area, such as a round pen. Drop the lead rope to the ground and give him a one word command, such as “stand” or “stay”. Take a step or two back from your horse. If he follows you, pick up the lead rope and back him up a few steps and then move him forward to where he was standing. Drop the lead rope again, with the use of your one word command. Move away from your horse a few steps. If he stands for a few seconds, walk back to him and praise him. It is important to quickly correct him as soon as he takes a step after receiving his command. He will associate your reaction of making him work (backing up and moving forward) and will come to understand that if he stands still when the lead rope or rein is on the ground, he won’t have to work.
The goal is to continue these lessons for longer periods of time between the command and reward. You may want to incorporate other things into your training regimen, such as moving away and turning your back to him, even moving out of sight. Again if he moves, back him up several steps and pull him forward again.
It may take a while to build up the length of time that your horse will stand still, but if you keep working at it, your horse will always stand quietly whenever he knows the lead rope or rein is on the ground.
This simple training task will assure you that you get to ride back to camp, rather than walking back without your horse.
By: Darlene M. Cox (firstname.lastname@example.org)