Patience Poles Q & A

Put simply, patience is the ability to wait. It is a skill that we must develop both in ourselves and our horses. Acceptance and tolerance, having patience means your horse is willing to suppress restlessness or annoyance.

What is a Patience Pole?

The Allison Creek Patience Pole is a 12′ steel post, concreted 4′ deep in the ground with a bearing and rotating arm at the top of the post. The bearing allows the arm to swing freely 360 degrees around the pole. From the arm above the horse’s head hangs a chain or bungee, which you attach to your horse’s halter. We are proud of Allison Creek Patience Poles, and offer a 5 year warranty on all working parts. If your horse breaks it, we will fix it.

Why are patience poles used and how do they work?

Most often, patience poles are used to teach horses to stand tied, stand quietly… patiently waiting for the owner. You put a nervous horse on the pole, and “release them” turning them out when they settle down. The poles allow a degree of freedom of movement so after a certain amount of time, the horse accepts that they aren’t really going anywhere and stands quietly. Humans can think of it as “down time” or “decompression time”.  Some trainers say that patience is an essential component of horses early learning.  And sooner or later, your horse will need to stand tied when they don’t want to or when conditions and equipment are not perfect. This could lead to a dangerous situation for both horse and rider.

Patience poles can also help horses with a variety of people problems.  The patience pole discourages the nervous horse from pawing, chewing on fence, rearing, and similar. These behaviors are often an unfortunate result of “accidental training”. The horse’s anxiety rises because it does not have full access to it’s flight circle and it starts to paw at the fence or horse trailer or whatever it is tied to. The loud banging attracts the attention of the owner, and understandably fearing for the safety of the horse’s legs, or concerned about the rising anxiety level of the horse, the owner unties the horse, releasing him or her from their restraint.  If your horse has “learned” to panic and pull back, save yourself the vet bills and your horse from more pain and suffering by getting them a patience pole.

Why should we use a Patience Pole vs hitching rail?

The beauty about patience poles is that it allows the horse a freedom of movement that helps keep them calm, while still restricting or confining them to a space. Dr. Temple Grandin asserts that animals have “flight circles” that us humans can think of as “personal space”. This is the space the animal is comfortable in, with more “domesticated” animals having smaller flight circles. When we tie our horses to a fence or similar, we are preventing them from accessing their full natural flight circle, blocking them off from half of their natural space, and this drives up their stress levels. The patience pole allows horses to turn and face any pressure or perceived threat and it is this freedom of movement that invites calm.

Some farms with limited space even use patience poles in lieu of turnout paddocks. Boarding farms in urban areas often only have small dirt turnout paddocks. In this situation the patience poles allow for similar exercise opportunities and increase the number of horses that can be turned out at one time, thus increasing turnout length and improving the horse’s health and welfare.

What questions do you have about Allison Creek Patience Poles?

Send us an email or use the form on the Contact Us page. We will do our best to answer any question you can throw at us.

Written by Amanda Ledford – amanda@allisoncreekfarm.com

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