Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tying on the Trail

Do you tie your horse out on the trail?  
To trees or hitching rails?

My last trail ride (previous post) was wonderful. However, we did have one small incident that became a good learning experience.

We stopped at a rest area with hitching rails.
 I took my lead rope out of my saddle bag.
I snapped the lead rope to Misty's halter and removed her bridle.
I tied the lead rope to the hitching rail.
I sat down at a nearby picnic table to enjoy a snack.
I thought I had tied the lead safely around the rail and support post so it wouldn't slide.
I looked at Misty and Oh! Oh!

Misty had her head down to the ground, happily munching grass, because the lead rope had slid all the way down the support pole to the ground.  Not a good situation.  So I got up to fix it before she decided to put her head up.

Another rider, closer to Misty, saw the precarious situation too and moved toward Misty to help.  Misty lifted her head, felt the odd angle of resistance from the lead rope and went into a panic.   I got to her just as the hardware on her lead rope broke.  She stood quietly like "Huh, what just happened?"

Another rider came over and tied my lead rope (now without hardware) to her halter and I re-tied the lead rope to the rail, securely this time.

She soon got into another brief panic and pulled back hard, but didn't break anything.  This was very unusual behavior for Misty as she has never done the panic-pull-back dance before. It surprised me.  I'm not sure what caused the 2nd panic. Perhaps she was aware of the deer herd we just passed, as they moved away from the area.  Or she was uncomfortable with the horse tied at the other end of the hitching rail. Or the poor girl was just feeling a little freaky after her 1st panic.

No harm done, thankfully. 
It was time to mount-up and ride-on.

Lessons learned:
  1. Stay close to Misty when she is tied in a strange place, next to an unfamiliar horse, especially out on the trail. 
  2. Find a better method of tying out on the trail. 
I prefer not to leave a lead rope tied to her halter and ride with it around her neck or tied to my saddle horn, etc.  I want to easily detach the lead and carry it in my saddle bag.

I'm going to try The Clip.  

Anybody use one out on the trail? I think the tether ring will be useful around tree trunks and then I can attach the clip to the tether ring. 

How do you tie out on the trail?


  1. I'm glad that all turned out OK. It must have been scary for you to see Misty in a panic.
    I like being able to tie the horses when taking a break. We used to have picket lines when I did Pony Club events - all horses were tied to a rope stretched between trees. Surprisingly I don't recall any panic situations. I'm thinking that if a horse did pull, the rope had enough stretch that it didn't cause panic.
    I've never used a clip, just the quick release knot, and making sure that the length of the rope was safe.
    And, speaking of safety, it irks me to see folks loop or tie rains around a pole.

    1. We're going to learn to tie to a picket line this summer at a high-lining clinic. A lot of people have good luck with the high lines/pickets. It was scary to watch Misty pull like that. Everyone remarked at how solid the hitching rails were. :-)

  2. It's interesting to learn about all the various aspects around horse ownership.

    1. It's a never-ending learning experience. There are always surprises and new encounters. And always room for improvement.

  3. Julie Goodnight uses one for all of her horses and the only negative thing I have to say about it, after using it, is that it's heavy. Leaving it on the lead rope while trying to lead will take some getting used to. Personally, I use a bank-robber's knot (a type of quick-release) to tie with, other than when I'm at Julie's barn, then I'll use the clip.

    It is super fast and easy, but the weight is a turn off for me.

    1. Thanks GunDiva. I'll give it and try and see how I like it. It'll probably live in my saddle bag and be used mostly on the trail. I use a quick release knot too, but just didn't get to Misty quick enough.