Ed Dabney Gentle and Natural Horsemanship Confidence Course. Step by step obstacles to develop confidence, trust, agility, awareness on part of horse.
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"Wire Noseband Tie Downs"

Note: This is a written response from Ed to a client who asked about the use of wire noseband tie downs and his friend's use on a wire noseband with her horse.

She is trying to train through pain. Telling the horse, "If you don't keep your head down I will hurt your nose." Horses don't learn through pain in fact when they are in pain they check out mentally.

She is trying to train the outside of the horse through mechanical gimmicks. Such a typical human, tool user mentality that it is hard for many people to see any other way. You can't train the outside of the horse, you can only train the inside mentally through meaningful communication.

She is actually treating the symptom rather than the problem. Let's find out why he is raising his head and teach him to carry himself in better balance rather than just wiring his head down and forcing it upon him. The wire noseband is a band aid quick fix that really doesn't work in the long run if you want to have any kind of meaningful mutual relationship with your horse.

Lateral flexion is the key to vertical flexion. If she can help him understand the reward in giving to the bit laterally then he will give to the bit vertically and keep his head down because it is a good idea not because it is forced upon him. He is completely capable, on his own, to carry his head anywhere you want it. It's all in knowing how to ask him. He'll be glad to comply if he is given a chance to understand.

Watch this horse run loose in the pasture. The horse is always in a perfect state of balance on his own, so whenever we are with the horse we must approach him in a state of balance ourselves. If the rider is also in a perfect state of balance then horse and rider together can achieve an even more beautiful state of balance.

The tie down will not help him achieve balance, in fact it will greatly impede his own natural state of balance. "For what a horse does under constraint...he does without understanding." -- this, a quote from First Century Greek master horseman, Xenophon, in his book “The Art of Horsemanship.”