How To Tie A Horse Safely
To tie a horse safely means to tie it so that it is unlikely to hurt itself, or anyone or anything nearby.
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The article below has general information on how to tie a horse. If you are specifically looking for a knot to tie a horse, please see this page: Tie A Quick Release Knot.
Here are a few tips to help you tie your horse safely.
- Only tie your horse to objects that it cannot move or pull over. Remember,
a horse is very powerful and a spooked or frightened horse is even more
powerful. Do not tie a horse to anything that a determined or spooked horse
- Stupid things to tie a horse to that we have actually seen people use include: Lawn chairs, car bumpers, garbage dumpsters, portable panels, empty round bale feeders, vehicle mirrors, truck tail gates, and more.
- Tie a horse to something it cannot break. For example, if tying a horse to a fence never tie it to the fence rail, always tie it to the fence post. Fence rails are broken far more easily than fence posts. By the way, not all fence posts are sturdy enough to tie your horse to. Never tie your horse to a post or anything else that isn't able to withstand several strong pulls from a frightened horse.
- Tie your horse with a quick release knot. Learn how to tie a quick release knot here.
The horse in the photo below is tied securely and safely. He is tied with a good quality halter and lead rope and the halter fits the horse well. The rope is tied at about the same height as the horse's back. It is tied to a secure post using a quick release knot that can be jerked free if the tail of the rope is pulled on. Also, the horse is tied long enough it can adjust its head position and/or bite at flies, but short enough it cannot get a leg over the rope.
- Tie your horse at a safe height. A good rule of thumb is to tie a horse so that the rope is tied at about the same height as the horse's back. You can safely tie a horse higher than this, just be sure to allow the horse enough slack that it can hang its head at a natural level. However, if you tie a horse lower than this you are asking for serious trouble. Tying a horse too low will allow a horse to get a leg over the rope, or its head stuck underneath the rope.
- Tie a horse long enough that it can be comfortable, but not so long
that the rope droops down and the horse can step over it.
- Tying a horse excessively long is very dangerous. Not only can they get a leg over the rope, if the rope is long enough they can run a few steps if they spook and jerk themselves down. Sadly, we have seen this happen.
- Do not tie with the bridle or the bridle reins. Instead, use a good quality, properly fitting halter and a lead rope.
- Tie your horse to something that will not poke or hurt its face and eyes if it should jump forward.
- Strange horses should always be tied with enough distance between each other that they cannot bite or kick one another. Horses that know each other and that do not fight can be tied a little closer together, but should always be tied so that they cannot bite each other or the tack the other horse is wearing.
- If you cannot tie your horse to something appropriately sturdy, tie it up to something that is intentionally designed to break. For example, you can tie a piece of string or twine around a lightweight fence post then tie the horse to the string or twine. This way, if the horse breaks free at least you got to decide what it was that was broken (the string or twine instead of the post).
- Use the right lead rope. Round ropes that don't easily "pull down" under extreme
pressure are best. If a rope pulls down under pressure it puts the knot into a bind
so that it becomes difficult or impossible to untie. Round
cotton lead ropes
3/4 of an inch in diameter or larger are considered by many horse people to be the best
ropes for tying a horse because this type of lead rope isn't as easily pulled into
a bind as other types. In addition, cotton is slower to rope burn a horse
than many other materials. Other types of lead ropes are good, too, as long
they don't pull too tight under pressure.
- Flat lead ropes of any material make a very poor rope to tie a horse with as they easily pull down too tight for the knot to be quickly released.
- Keep a knife or other suitable tool handy to cut a lead rope if necessary. Pocket knives are excellent safety tools for horse owners and handlers.
- When tying your horse, remember the old axiom: "Always tie short and high."
- Tie the horse with a quick release knot, sometimes also called a jerk knot. This is a knot that will come untied quickly and easily when the tail of the rope is pulled on. Getting a horse free if it fights being tied up is crucial to the safety of the horse, whatever it is tied to, and possibly surrounding people, animals, or property.
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