KBR Horse Training Information

Exercising Body AND Mind

The "Safe Squeeze" Chute

There are many tools that one can use when working with wild horses. One is the squeeze chute. The wild horse may need veterinary attention, a halter put on or removed, perhaps the horse is a "forwardaholic" that just needs to be desensitized to people in a place where he can't mobilize into endorphin driven endless flight.

A squeeze chute can be either extremely safe and effective or dangerous to horse and handler depending on how it is constructed, how it is used and how the horse is approached and handled in the chute. In this feature we will discuss principles of constructing a safe squeeze chute, how to safely move the horse into and out of the chute and how to safely handle the horse in the chute.

Thanks to Mike Horrigan for providing this demonstration at Lifesavers' Wild Horse Boot Camp

  GETTING THE HORSE INTO THE SQUEEZE


The squeeze has to be made up of panels of sufficient strength to handle the pressure of a horse pushing on it and of sufficient height to discourage the horse from attempting to jump out. The lower rails are padded to protect the horse.

Two moving panels are used, tied securely together. The other end of the first panel is securely tied to the round pen. The idea here is to form a chute with a wide opening for the horse to enter a chute that can be closed from a safe distance. The horse can get used to the dimensions of the chute before it is "tightened."

The squeeze panels can be left against the inside of the round pen and swung out when ready to use.
The horse is first worked in the round corral. It is important that the horse have some familiarity with the handler and is used to the handler moving around. This usually takes only a few minutes. Once the horse will walk about the pen without being overly agitated, he will be gently herded into the chute.

Once the horse is at the far end of the chute, the handler can quietly approach, close and securely tie off the chute opening. The chute should be tied to the horizontal rails of the round pen so that it can slide against the round pen as the middle of the chute is adjusted.

The two panel squeeze can be closed without pressuring the horse to rocket backwards out the opening.
Once the squeeze is secured, the handler should just hang out for a little bit. The horse needs to be settled to the point that it doesn't flinch at every sound and movement.

Two moving panels are used, tied securely together. The other end of the first panel is securely tied to the round pen. The idea here is to form a chute with a wide opening for the horse to enter a chute that can be closed from a safe distance. The horse can get used to the dimensions of the chute before it is "tightened." It is critically important that the horse figure out the dimensions of the chute and understands that he isn't going to be rushed by humans before proceeding further.

The handler stays relaxed and waits for the horse to settle before moving forward.
When approaching the horse the handler comes up quietly from the rear staying well within view. This approach will tend to keep the horse's nose in the end of the chute but he should be able to turn his head toward the handler and study him if necessary,

If the horse is too edgy he can be first rubbed with a light bamboo pole or a longe whip (with the line tied off to the handle.) With this contact the handler can read the horse's responses and work his way safely toward the horse.

The handler approaches the horse quietly, but not sneakily.
Once actual contact can be made with the horse, the idea here is to stay quiet and keep the horse calm and curious about the interaction. Most horses like grooming scratches. At this point the handler can start to ease the diamond shaped center of the chute (where the two panels hinge) closer to the horse.

A second person can maintain a position at the closed entrance of the chute. In this sequence, her presence discourages the horse from turning around in the chute.

Here the horse is scratched on the withers until her head relaxes.
As the horse gets more comfortable with being handled, the second person can come forward slightly to help move the panels in toward the horse. The idea here is to be able to close the panels together smoothly and quietly so as not to unduly disturb the horse.

If the horse starts to fuss, everyone backs off a bit, lets the horse settle down. and then starts over. (Care should be taken never to place fingers inside the chute when closing it in!)

The panels can be pushed in by using our hips and pushing the rails from the outside with our hands.

Continue to Haltering in the Squeeze


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KBR Horse Training Information, 1997 Lamm's Kickin' Back Ranch and Willis & Sharon Lamm. All rights reserved. Duplication of any of this material for commercial use is prohibited without express written permission. This prohibition is not intended to extend to personal non-commercial use, including sharing with others for safety and learning purposes, provided this copyright notice is attached.
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