The Patience Pole, A Basic Foundational Lesson For Horses
One of the most basic foundational lessons for a horse is to safely and quietly stand tied. It is also one of the most missed basic lessons. I have experienced that a tremendous amount of the horses that come in for training do not quietly or safely stand tied, thereby restricting the horse owner in many ways of simply working around and with their horse.
My favorite “all service” farm equipment facility in Georgia is AC Farm Services. In addition to horse trailer repair and maintenance, Jason Schillaci of AC Farm Services builds and installs Patience Poles. If you own a training facility or boarding barn, a Patience Pole is a must have. Do what I do, use the best tools available to train your horse. A tied, quiet, sane horse is well on his way to being a Safe Horse.
Safe Horse Training uses the Patience Pole to teach young and older horses alike to teach themselves to stand quietly. We know that horses are prey animals with the inherent instinct of flight or fight. When you restrict the movement of the animal, they can become anxious, claustrophobic and panicky. Many of us have experienced a horse that pulls back and breaks its lead rope or halter when it’s startled. Once the horse is ready to move and feels the restriction of being tied, that is when the horse’s safety, your safety and the safety of others is compromised. A horse running loose through a barn or horse show, or even worse, escaping your property and tearing down the street creates a very dangerous situation for the horse and all humans involved.
So how do you teach a horse to stand quietly while tied to be groomed, wait for the next class or just give you a break to get a cold drink during these hot summer days? I wish I could give you a magic potion, guaranteed to convince your horse that it’s okay, relax, nothing is going to happen to you. But, unfortunately, like many things in life, training a horse takes time, experience and the right tools to get the job done.
The Patience Pole gives the horse the freedom of movement, thereby giving the animal the ability to move his feet and see 360 degrees around. Time and time again, I’ve witnessed a nervous, jittery horse walk around and around the Patience Pole several times, calling out for his buddies, worrying that he was going to miss his next meal, only to realize, fairly quickly, that he has the ability to move his feet, see all around him and then relax and stand still.
Teaching a horse to stand quietly doesn’t happen overnight, however, if you’ve got a Patience Pole installed at your barn and use it after each ride, you will find that your horse begins to use the thinking side of his brain, quiets down and relaxes. Your consistency using the Patience Pole after a good ride greatly increases your horse’s ability to retain the lesson you just taught.