When to Use a Tie Down (Barrel Racing)

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by faroutfax, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. faroutfax

    faroutfax Senior Member+

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    I know there are lots of strong opinions on tie downs, but lets try and keep this civil :wink:

    I have 2 questions, mostly for barrel racers.

    1) What is the purpose of using a tie down? I think I already know but I'd like to hear your thoughts too :)

    2) What type of horses would you put a tiedown on?

    The reason I'm asking is because I'm hoping to go abit faster with my mare this year (still not fast at all) and I'm wondering if I should get her a tiedown. We haven't had any problems yet though :p She has a naturally low head carrage and never "acts up".
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2008






  2. Care To Jazz?

    Care To Jazz? Senior Member+

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    Most people will use them to aid their horse and give them something to lean on while turning the barrel. The only downfall-the horse ends up relying on it, take it away and you have a horse depending on something to lean on. That something is gone, the horse will most likely lose his balance or even fall.

    Now, there are also people who use them to keep a horse from rearing or bringing his head up. Trust me, a piece of nylon/leather isn't going to stop a horse from rearing if he really feels like it. As for forcing the head down, it gives a pretty image, but if the horse has a natural high set neck, it could be painful for him, or if he's lifting his head out of nervousness/axiety, you have a way bigger problem than a tie-down will ever be able to fix.

    I think of tie downs as a quick fix, very temporary, if left on too long too often will cause more damage than good.

    JMO :) If you mare has trouble making tight circles, maybe a tie-down during one or two runs would do her good. But I wouldn't rely on it personnally. I've already tried it and it didn't help my horse much. Also, if you are planning on using it, make sure you get her accustomed to it before the shows. But remember, good barrel horses don't need a tie down to run great.
     
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  3. HUS_WP_lovr

    HUS_WP_lovr Senior Member+

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    The little barrel racing i have done I have used a tie down in shows and no tie down in practice. I find that the horse leans hard on it when he runs the pattern but in practice does fine without it.
     
  4. IIIBarsV

    IIIBarsV Senior Member+

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    Tie-downs are generally thought to be used to either a) keep a high-headed horse's head out of your face, or b) give the horse something to counterbalance on.

    There are several things blatantly wrong with this logic.

    1) A high-headed horse is often high-headed for a reason. With some horses, this is their conformation, and a tie down would be working against them, creating problems for the horse.

    2) A horse who gets high-headed when the rider gets on has some other issue going on- such as an ill-fitting saddle, bad rider hands, lack of training, or other pain-related thing. A tiedown would just be forcing the horse into an uncomfortable position, or covering up for a lack of training and rider skill.

    3) Generally, we want the horse to be collected and carrying *themselves* when working on the rail, turning a barrel, or whatever. If the horse needs a "counterbalance" (which makes little sense in my logical brain), then there's a problem somewhere.

    The last time I ever used a tiedown on my horse was in 2002. After I started training him further for performance events, especially hunter under saddle, I found that I didn't need or want one when I went back to barrel racing. If my horse is getting their face in mine, I check out pain first, my own riding, and then training. If it's a training issue, I go backwards and fix the gap that is causing the problem.

    My new barrel horse is a prime example of a tiedown being used to cover up for lack of training and skill, as well as pain issues. Basically, it was the tightest tiedown I've ever seen on a horse (aside from this black horse at Congress who literally could not move its head), and they also had on a big medium-swivel-port 8" grazing bit. Turbo had the following issues going on underneath the exterior: Hoof pain, incorrect saddle fit, no idea how to give to pressure or vertical flexion, no idea about collection or speed control, fear, nervousness.

    He would get to the barrel and keep right on going, nearly bolting, as soon as you asked him to do the pattern fast more than once. He'd start snorting, wouldn't settle. I observed him mostly for the first couple weeks- my sister rode him a lot. He was constantly bracing his neck against the tiedown and the bit (any bit- we got the 8" off him immediately), and even when the tiedown was quite loose, he was still trying to brace on it. His neck had a hinged appearance. His back was always hollow, but somehow the poor guy managed to run some amazing barrel patterns and blazing times.

    Now, he's been given time off, I've been rehabbing his feet (major toe flare and thin hoof capsule/poor growth happening, ouch- doing much much better now), and he's been allowed to just chill out. Now that he's gotten a little beefy and out of shape, the muscles have relaxed and you can actually feel the muscle knots in his neck from bracing so much, and his topline muscles are terrible. He's by no means thin or unhealthy, but you can feel the top of his ribs and it's flat to his spine. The muscle there is very under-developed. I've been doing a lot of grooming and massage to loosen him up, and will start doing some stretching exercises as soon as I buy this cool book on how to do it properly.

    Turbo is not even a high-headed horse. He's a Zippo Pine Bar grandson, for heck's sake. Out in the field now, he tucks his nose and floats around, flexing through his topline much more than he did. Overall, he looks so much more relaxed.

    He will never run in a tie-down again. I am taking him straight back to basics, filling in gaps and re-teaching him a lot of things. He will ride in a snaffle, and eventually move to my flexible and light combination bit. Who knows, maybe he'll be good enough to run in a snaffle.

    In terms of "head down" the most I use nowadays is draw-reins for training in. I don't even like training forks/martingales much- they can lock up.

    There really is no need for a tiedown if you've covered the possibilities of pain, poor riding skill, or lack of training. Maybe a loose one if your horse gets flinging their heads when you're coming in the ring (hotness, misbehavior, etc). A lot of barrel horses don't run in tiedowns at all, nowadays. Neither do a lot of ropers, I've noticed.
     
  5. cd_horton

    cd_horton Senior Member+

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    A tie down simply adds to the amount of control the rider has. It can be difficult to ride, rate or stop a horse that his its head up in the air. For these type horses, it also creates a balance point in some sense as the horse can lean on the tie down as it stops and turns. The material a tie down is made from will also add to the control factor of the tie down, a flate leather tie down will have less "bite" than a rope tie down and a chain or steel tie down will have further severe "feel"

    I find that a barrel horse that uses his hindquarters doesn not need a tie down, these are the type horses that run, stop and slide around the barrel, these horses find balance on their hindquarters, much like a reiner when he makes a big stop. A "front end" type horse that just slows down at the barrel and pulls himself around them on his front end will likley use the tie down to find balance and lean into, without it this type horse will flip his nose in the air, it will be in the riders face and the horse will be out of balance.
     
  6. Blistering Winds

    Blistering Winds Senior Member+

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    With blister, I use a tie down because as he turns, he reaches forward with his nose, seeking balance (more likely a training issue...like others have said in the past), but he drops his shoulder at the same time.

    When the tie down is there, He can find something to balance on as we turn, and all I have to worry about is his shoulder and not him "balancing" on the bit/reins as we turn. (very bad habit for a horse to do...even worse than the habit of the tie down)
     
  7. Blistering Winds

    Blistering Winds Senior Member+

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    The rest of my reasons off pattern....

    Young horse who may or may not throw her head up and over....tie down is set LONG as not interfere with a high head set, but keeps the head down so if I engage the bit, it isn't at an angle where I'll bloody the pallet. (too high of a head can REALLY hurt a horse's mouth when a snaffle is engaged)

    For trails, exact same thing. In the event of a really bad situation, the horse goes to avoid my hands by taking their head up too high, they don't get hurt.

    Beyond that, I have no other real reason for it.
     
  8. HoneyTheQH

    HoneyTheQH Senior Member

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    Pretty much what everyone else has said. It's for the horse to balance on going around the tight turns and to keep them from throwing their head up. I used one on my old horse because he would get SUPER excited and run right through the bit. The horse I have now doesn't have that problem and I've never used one on her cause it's easier for her to get going if she has her head completely free. (Plus she likes to stretch her neck out on the run home :))

    Personally, it doesn't sound to me like your horse needs one. If she naturally keeps her head low and "keeps" her head while running, then you shouldn't have any problems.

    Have fun!! :D
     
  9. BriLeigh

    BriLeigh Senior Member

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    I have found that tie downs slow my times down...and I know a lot of my gaming friends feel the same way. We all used to use them and when we stopped using them our times were much faster.
     
  10. PNHPlatinum

    PNHPlatinum Senior Member+

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    2) What type of horses would you put a tiedown on?
    Personally I wouldn't ever think about buying/using one on or for my horse. I think MOST people use them a a easy way out instead of training their horses properly, Thats atleast what I have seen in my area and in videos.


    The way you describe I wouldn't put one on her. She how she goes! Don't guess how she's going to be when 99.9% of the time their totally the opposite!
     






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