Hobbling http://bit.ly/1RBYQnb helps a horse learn not to fight against being restrained. It’s another form of desensitizing or sacking out horses, the same concept as clinicians who lead a horse by a rope around a front leg.
When I was young and working on the ranch I turned an older horse out when it was snowing and the herd started playing. I heard the wire fence creak. I hurried to check and this horse had slipped and was upside down with his hocks in the barbed wire and both hind shoes in the net wire. He could have cut his legs had he fought that wire but he had been hobble trained and he laid there and never moved. I had to go get him up. Young or old, horses need to know what hobbles are.
I highly recommend using a sandy arena or another area that has soft footing with nothing for the horse to get caught in. It is helpful to introduce hobbles as gently and easily as possible.
On foals you can wrap a soft cotton lead rope above the knees with a twist in the middle that you can hold on to and let go of as needed. Young horses have soft bones and you don’t want to do too much. For training mature horses place the soft cotton rope around the pasterns or ankles with the same twist in the middle. Once they accept this rope, which is generally fairly quickly, the leather hobbles can be used.
I prefer a Figure 8 hobble which is the shape it makes when it’s on a horse’s legs and I like to have a long tail for training. When it’s on the horse you’re going to have a lot of tail hanging, but if you have a colt that is squirming, you can buckle one of the first holes and gradually tighten it as the colt settles down.
I make all my hobbles of soft but strong latigo leather and stainless steel hardware http://bit.ly/1RBYQnb. Latigo is more resistant to heat, and has more cushioning and flexibility than other leathers. I use stainless steel because chrome or brass deteriorates and can rot the leather where it folds around buckles or rings. This is a safety hazard that can be hard to see. Hobbles made out of nylon often have sharp edges that cut.
Be sure to keep the distance between the middle rings or Ds on your hobbles close. If you leave 8-10 inches between the horse’s legs he can learn to run with the hobbles and that defeats their purpose. Approximately 4-6 inches is a safe amount of space.
Hobbling is one of many training techniques that help horses learn to be safe in the world we share with them. For questions about hobbles or any other tack please call 817-312-5305 or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
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