Ponyplay Training: Tying your Pony


In this section we will teach our pony to stand, then ground tie, and finally we will teach him to tie (e.g. to a ring in the wall). Before teaching your pony these things, it is a good idea to make sure he knows how to lead. I will assume that your pony is trained to being led.

To teach your pony to stand properly, start off by leading him for a few strides, and then stop him by saying "whoa" or whatever verbal command you use. Now tell your pony to "square up." Take a look at how your pony is standing. At the halt, the pony should have be attentive, quiet (no fidgeting), still, and have his weight distributed evenly on both feet. Moreover, the pony's fore hooves (only if they are not bound behind his back or otherwise bound in place) should be resting vertically along his side, his back should be straight, his head should be up, and he should be staring straight ahead of him. If this is not the case, you will need to correct his position either by using your hands to move him (preferred method), or by lightly using your crop on the parts of his body he needs to move.

Once you have your pony standing correctly, have him stay that way for 30 seconds, then start leading him again. Lead him a few more strides and again ask for a halt. Again, examine his position at the halt and correct it to the ideal. Again make him remain in the correct position for 30 seconds and then start leading him again. Repeat this until your pony will halt into the correct standing position every time. You may need to repeat this 10 - 20 times per day for a few days before your pony will consistently stand squarely at the halt every time.

Once your pony is able to halt and stand squarely every time, it is time to move on to ground tying

Ground tying means allowing your pony to stand by himself with his lead rope or reins not secured to a post or hitching rail. Training your pony to do this will allow you to walk away and do other things. Moreover, this will be the foundation on which you teach your pony to be tied to a rail, in a trailer, or in cross-ties. This is analogous to teaching a puppy to "stay." Ground tying is most useful when your pony is an arena or other fenced off area and you need him to stay still while you adjust tack or some such but nobody else is available to hold him and it is impossible or inconvenient to tie him to something.

For this, you will need either a lounge line or a set of long reins (such as driving reins) about 25 feet long. Attach the long reins or lounge line to your pony's bit or halter, and lead your pony into an arena or other confined area and stop him. Make sure the pony is standing properly with his feet are nicely under him. Now that your pony is standing squarely, tell your pony to “stand” or "stay" (whichever term you prefer) and give the reins or lounge line a slight backward tug, then take one step forward keeping hold of the lounge line or reins, and turn to face the pony.

Repeat this procedure 5 - 10 times. Once the pony is able to do this reliably, start increasing the distance (i.e. take 2 steps away from pony, then 4 steps, etc.) until you are at the end of the lounge line or long reins. Each time you do so, make sure you issue the verbal command "stay" or "stand" along with the short backward tug on the pony's reins/lounge line before stepping away so that the pony will understand this is the cue for him to stand still instead of following you thinking you are leading him. Make sure that after issuing the command that you walk directly away and not turn to face until you have walked off.

Now that your pony can lead, stand, and ground tie, it is time to teach him to tie. Use a ring attached to something solid that the pony cannot move, such as a wall or a post. The height of ring should be around shoulder height so that the pony will not tangle himself in the long reins or lounge line. It is also a good idea to have good footing such as a rubber map or dirt floor.

Start by leading your pony to the front of the tie ring. Stop your pony by the ring and tell him to “stay” or "stand" followed by the quick backwards tug on the lounge line or reins (not tying your pony to the ring as yet), then take a step or two away.

Since your pony has not yet had to stand facing the wall or post yet, he may try to turn around or follow you. If your pony does this, just say “bad” or "wrong," walk back to him and try again. If necessary, you can swat your pony's ass with a crop if he tries to back up. When the pony is comfortable with you stepping away and remains standing quietly, you can start walking further away.

Continue with ground tying at the tie ring until you are able to walk to the end of the lounge line and your pony will remain standing. Once your pony reaches this point, it is time to simulate tying your pony to the ring. Walk your pony up to the ring and tell him to "stay" or “stand” and give the reins or line a backwards tug, then thread the lounge line or long reins through the ring. However, do not tie it; keep hold of it, then start walking away keeping the line in your hands.

Note: You really should not tie your pony to anything by the bit. That being said, I enjoy being tied by the bit in many of my scenes, and I personally believe that while this is not safe, neither is crossing the street. Thus, I do not advocate this practice, but you should not be leaving a pony unattended regardless of how your pony is tied. Just be safe.

Again, if the pony attempts to follow you, tell him "bad" or “wrong,” and add a swat with your riding crop if necessary. Step towards your pony while simultaneously taking up pressure on the reins or lounge line. The applied pressure will be felt by your pony since the line is threaded through the ring. If the pony resists or backs up at the pressure, give him enough line to maintain constant pressure. If your pony steps toward the ring, release the pressure. Never pull your pony into the ring; Use the pressure on the line or quick swats with crop on the pony's ass as an annoyance that he can avoid by stepping towards the ring.

Work at this until your pony will remain standing quietly at the ring. When you can reach the end of the lounge line, gradually increase the time you spend away from your pony. When your pony will stand quietly for 10 minutes while you’re at the end of the lounge line, your pony should now be safe to tie.

When tying your pony, use either a quick-release knot or panic snaps. Make sure that you ground tie your pony before you physically tie him to a ring, especially if you are tying him in a location.

After your pony is comfortable being ground tied, the next step is to teach him to cross tie.