How to Hobble Train a Horse

Posted in: Ask A Pro, Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

Hobble training a horse is a pretty handy tool in a cowhand’s arsenal! So, I thought I’d take a moment to share with you, how you might go about getting a horse good to be hobbled. It isn’t just for cow-ponies and ranch hands. Having a horse that can quietly stand hobbled, is a way to help get them better about their feet, and keep them close when there’s no place handy to tie them.

Savanna did a great job explaining how and why you’d rope a horse’s feet — and I believe I’ve covered the subject more than once as well. In order to begin getting a horse ready for hobbles, you’d want to make sure he’s good with having his feet roped, and is good at giving to pressure, and searching for/finding the release of pressure.

I typically won’t begin hobble training a horse until he’s 30-60 days into his training. I want to make sure he’s got a very good grasp of pressure and release, and the more rides/handling he has, the better. Also, I will not recommend, or tell you, EVER, that you should use hobbles on a horse that paws when he’s tied. That’s just me, you do whatever you want with your horse. If your horse paws when he’s tied, that’s a discussion for a different day altogether.

Now that we have those couple disclaimers, and our homework done, we can get down to business.

I like to hobble them, the first time, in the middle of the arena, or in a big round pen. I will use a third leg hobble — that goes on the left or right hind foot — whichever you choose. I’ll start by putting the hobbles under the fetlocks, of the front feet. Then I’ll add the third- hobble, and tie it to the front two. The reason for this is that you want the horse to learn to stand. If you only hobble his his front feet, and he learns that he can hop around like a gazelle, you’ll have a hard habit to break. But if he feels like he can’t go anywhere or he will trip himself, he’ll learn that that he can just stand, and be quiet.

hobble training

DX Nutter Butter (Butters), being hobbled for the first time. It was kind of a non-event.

hobble training


It’s good to do short sessions — several days in a row. I then like to three-way hobble them outside a time or two as well. Once they’re quiet and have learned that traveling isn’t going to go too well for them (some never try to travel, mind you), you can remove the hind foot hobble and you should be good to go with just the front hobble.

Having a hobble-broke horse, should also help your horse not panic if he’s caught in wire at any point in his life, because he’s learned to give to pressure to find the release. It helps them learn to think through situations.

Best of luck in hobble-training your horses. If you’ve got questions, feel free to drop me a line!

Happy Trails!

Posted in: Ask A Pro, Featured, Horse Training, Ranch Life

About Jenn Zeller

Jenn Zeller is the creative mind and boss lady behind The South Dakota Cowgirl. She is an aspiring horsewoman, photographer, brilliant social media strategist and lover of all things western. After a brief career in the investment world to support her horse habit (and satisfy her...

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