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Horse Problems Australia,
Post Office Box 89,
Surrey Downs, SA. 5126.
PH. (61) 0882515250

 

LEG RESTRAINTS & NH

by
John O'Leary
Horseman
2003


 

Before I talk about this subject, you should watch this video of shocking cruelty to a Donkey in Crete. This is nothing to do with the hobble training of horses and you should never use such equipment.

http://www.pitponies.co.uk/Video/BigVids/VidMpegs/DonkeyHobbledCrete2000.mpg

Click on Photo's to enlarge

Up until about 15 years ago, the words, hobbles, leg strap or collar rope were totally accepted by the Horse fraternity. They were also accepted as a training aid. However, with the advance of Natural Horsemanship that has swept across the world and such things as Monty Roberts description of his father's cruelty, the acceptance of leg restraints as an aid to horse training has waned tremendously.

I am a horseman that historically used restraints on horses and still do. I also completely accepted the Natural Horsemanship way of doing things but have observed over the last few years that some of the old time techniques and the horsemen that go with the territory have been more and more alienated by the religious fervor of the NH lobby. This article seeks to move a little closer to a level playing field and examines things as I see them. Lets just put the NH argument as being, that all forms of restraints on horses is unacceptable and bordering on the barbaric.

During the last 15 years, I have had more and more horses come to me because the farrier is having trouble shoeing them. I have put this down to the NH Breakers and as I have studied these horses I can categorically say that NH horses are never as good to shoe as the horse broken in to accept leg restraints. One major reason is this. If a horse has not been taught to stand and balance on three legs, it can never be a good one to shoe as it uses the farrier as the fourth leg. A lot of farriers' drop those horses and the horse starts to quickly learn that it can pull the leg away. There and then you have the start of the un-training of the good shoeing horse. The horse that has a struggle in the breaking in process with a leg restraint is the only horse that truly believes that the farrier is all powerful and there is never any point in testing him. This makes for the best shoeing horses.

Firstly, I must give a list of my honest observations of my use of leg restraints on horses over the years:

  • I cannot remember a horse that didn't accept, understand and give in to a set of knee hobbles inside 15 seconds.

  • Stockman's' hobbles are generally accepted by all horses inside 2 minutes.

  • I have never seen an injury or even skin off a horse due to the use of either of the above.

BENEFITS

  • I have seen hundreds of horses saved from serious injury and even death, due to leg restraint training. Not to mention the scars, Veterinary operations and the emotional trauma of injury to owners are often removed by this great training.

  • Horses with hobble training added to the mix are far better horses to shoe than others, they panic less throughout life and are less resistant in every way.

  • Don't damage equipment/ horse rugs or fences.

  • Leg restraint training added to NH, GH or any other systems produces a better all round horse.

  • My use of leg restraints on dangerous horses, problem horses and those destined for the abattoirs has saved hundreds of horses lives.

  • They tie up better than other horses.

So lets examine the crux of the argument between NH and leg restrains. I would suggest that an NH person would say that they do not allow the principals of 'reward and relief' and 'advance and retreat'.  That all possibility of the handler having the opportunity to release pressure for a give is taken away and that leg restrains just dominate or shut down a horse instead. Fair enough.

In answer to that I say this. Firstly, I have never met a psychologically damaged recipient of leg restraint training. I have never seen a horse get upset at the point of installation or upset in any manner whatsoever. Secondly, I believe that if you allow a horse to work it's way around problems itself, the horse decides when to take reward and relief on it's own terms and with far superior timing than any handler can achieve. Not only that but the message intended in the training can be grasped far quicker and easier by the horse, on it's own than with our interference as we try to be all sophisticated with our 'throw of the loop in the rope' Further, the horse understands totally and immediately why and how. No confusion because of the inadequacies of the handler, especially when they are amateur's. Some case studies then:

  • I have seen a number of horses stop when riders fall from them with their foot stuck in the stirrup. Saving the lives of those riders'

  • I have had horses get hooked whilst at the trot, in hidden fences that were down in long grass. They have come to an immediate stop and allowed us to untangle them rather than float them to a Veterinary Clinic.

  • I have seen horses totally hooked in and through hay nets and stand and wait to be untangled.

  • The same with galvanized mesh stock gates. One horse with a leg through once and then back through again.

  • I saw a horse get hooked by the off side back leg in loose wire that had come from a tree guard. whilst the horse was still facing the tree. It waited an hour. No injury.

  • Another that waited 24 hours.

  • Horses cast in stables, rather than kicking the stable down and possible doing major damage to facility and themselves, just lay there and allow us to turn them over.....and the list could go on.

So make your own minds up but I do hope that this article has allowed you to take a look at the other side of the coin.


Collar Rope. Unless horses learn to stand on 3 legs during the breaking in, they are never the top shoeing horse.

I invented this to save the lives of horses in open floats. Why do they accept it without a problem? Leg Restraints.

Back leg hobbles over the boots

Stockman's Hobbles on our foals. They get used to them in 15 seconds and they have their lives because of this training

The simple leg strap. Fixes every difficult shoeing horse in 10 minutes.

Knee Hobbles. Totally safe and horses adjust to them in 15 seconds. They NEVER damage a horse.

For the best and safest equipment sold in Australia, go here:

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/saddlery_sales.htm

 

SOME RULES THEN

  • Always introduce them in a safe yard, preferably a round pen.

  • Make sure the surface is safe and soft. Preferably thick sand and no rocks or other foreign material.

  • Only use soft leather hobbles. NOT synthetic or false sheepskin lined ones.

  • Double thickness and stitched is what you need. The Saddler can make them for you.

  • Always have the horse on the lead rope in case of panic which is rare.

  • If a horse does try to run on introduction, rip him around and make him stay in the vicinity and to think about it.

  • Bend down while you are on the side of the shoulder of the horse, NOT in front.

  • Go to the end of the lead rope, 3.6 meters, in case the horse leaps on your head. DO NOT play strength games via the rope.

  • Only one in fifty will trip over at first steps but none are worried about that.

  • Boot the horse up well on all 4 legs if you like. ( A horse will rarely be at risk of injury however)

  • Only ever apply back leg hobbles after the horse has totally accepted as a non event, the front hobbles.

REAR HOBBLES

These do not go around the pasterns but the straps are done up tight over the tope of protective boots, half way up the back cannon bones as in the photo. Once again, observe the rules above.

THE LEG STRAP

This is a total 'non event' to all horses. Leave it on for 5 minutes and occasionally make the horse walk around a few steps on 3 legs. Be on the end of the rope!!!!! When the horse has settled, get the rasp or hammer and tap the hoof to make the horse test the strap. It needs to. The more the better. This is what fixes the bad shoeing horses quick smart.

COLLAR ROPE

There are some dangers here!!!!

Pulling a back leg up a little rather than a lot is dangerous. Using rope around the leg of a horse is incompetent and fails to protect the horse. Rope burns.

Incidentally, the photo on this page has the horse tied low. That is low. Do as I say, not as I do No, the fact is there that this horse is into about the 4th day and it is not an issue and there will be no kick anyhow. It has given totally.

THE MAGIC KNOT

Only photo's can show the speed of this, the action and the sliding.

KNEE HOBBLES

These are just not an issue to any horse but when installed, you should only let the horse rock forward one step, just so it knows that it has them on and is restrained. They ignore them basically. Then, never let the horse move again with them. They must be supervised at all times, only so that they never learn that they can move with them on. They are for other uses such as, saddling up a fiddler, etc.

SIDE LINE

This is as dangerous as hell to train and no amateur should attempt it.! Reasons for it's use are rare. Don't attempt it.

HORSE FLOAT RESTRAINT

I am proud of this invention. It has saved dozens of young horses from being hung up over the top of the chest bar in a horse float as that is what almost all young ones attempt to do if traveled alone for the first time. I had it this week with an 18 month old young one. They go to jump, they cannot, they give, they are saved.

Use a soft cotton rope. Tie it solid on one side of the chest bar, put it over the neck, just in front of the whither, take up all slack and tie it off solid the other side of the horse on the chest bar. Not forcing the horse, just sitting there with no slack.

The most wonderful thing that I have used.

Here is a letter that talks about the wish that this horse had been hobble trained.

"I recently had the unfortunate experience of finding out just how important hobble training of horses really is after my Appy gelding got stuck in a cattle grid. I am now a firm believer that if my horse was never hobbled trained, he would have just thrashed himself to death with broken bones and I would have been responsible. I have posted a warning to others on Stockyard web site about how cattle grids & horses don't mix. Go here to read about my life changing experience"

Hers is the story in full:

http://www.stockyard.net/cgi-bin/netboard/netboardr.cgi?fid=1543&cid=110&tid=6589&pg=1&sc=20&x=0

and the photo's:

http://community.webshots.com/album/231619017NAUcAY

Introducing any of this equipment requires proper products.

There are a number of very important reasons behind my designs and testing. The Saddle shops are now supplying a lot of dangerous and substandard equipment.

  • Substandard Buckles and tongues bend and let go during crucial times.

  • Hobbles with buckles and holes are not acceptable for the work on horses large than foals or mini and tear through in no time.

  • Twin strap Hobbles that don't have the straps stitched,  with holes soon fail to allow the holes to line up due to uneven stretching. This presents a slowness danger to us.

  • Hobbles with holes tear and rip through in no time and are not suitable for the work.

  • Fake Sheep Skin lines hobbles burn and rub horses.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Single strap hobbles are simply not strong enough for the job and a waste of money.

  • Hobbles with buckles are too slow to use and therefore can be dangerous for the handler

Here is some proof:

CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

Fake Sheep Skin burn and rub horses.

The D Ring off a new Hobble after one use


The substandard buckles

These burn horses

These burn horses

and these


and these

   


RM Williams non stitched tearing


Dangerous Buckle Roller


RM Williams holes out of alignment through
uneven stretching.

Go here for photo's of quality product.

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/saddlery_sales.htm

 

Due to the inherent dangers involved in the use of any form of leg restraints, I have produced a DVD on the subject. I do not recommend that people should attempt any of it without the proper education and knowledge.

http://www.horseproblems.com.au/DVD%20Sales.htm

One of our unbroken 2 year olds thinking she is stuck with a thin 19mm dripper hose around a leg. She would stay all day if asked. She has since been saved when caught in a hay net tied too low by a staff member.

regards

 

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