It may seem like a remedial topic, but every horse owner hits a point where they get complacent around their horse and neglect to consider safety when their horse is tied.
Safety should always be your number one priority, whether around unknown horses or your own. Complacency is the most common cause of safety incidents. This list provides a good basis of things to keep in mind when tying your horse.
1.) Always tie your horse to something solid.
Always try to use a post or something designed to be tied to. Never tie to a board or loose object, like a fencing panel. Sooner or later, a tied horse will test what he is tied to if he wants to go somewhere badly enough. Never assume all posts or tie rings are solid, either – check before tying. All it takes is one quick pull-back on a loose tie ring and then you will have a loose horse on your hands. If you use a hitching rail, make sure it is of adequate height, and solid. Also, ensure that the rope cannot slip off to a corner and down the post leg to the ground.This runs the risk of catching a hoof or leg and causing more of a panic. Hitching rails should be roughly five feet in height, with a second rail lower so your horse cannot go underneath it.
2.) Always tie your horse with a quick release knot.
The quicker you can release the knot of the lead rope, the quicker you can avoid a dangerous situation. If your horse pulls back for any reason, you want to be able to release the rope before your horse injures himself or others. It is also recommended to add a daisy chain to the end of the rope. The tail of the rope will be out of reach so your horse cannot pull on it an undo the knot. Additionally, using the daisy chain prevents the rope from being pulled so tightly that you cannot get it loose if your horse sits back as he pulls. In the off chance that the rope binds, sticks, or knots and you cannot pull it loose, have a knife or hatchet handy to cut the rope in an emergency,
3.) A good rule for tying is “arm’s length and eye high”.
Try to tie your horse’s lead rope roughly an arm’s length from the quick release knot, and at eye level of your horse. If you tie the rope too low, you risk your horse getting a leg over the rope and getting tangled; you also risk a spinal injury should your horse pull back on a low-tied rope. Also make sure that you do not tie the rope too long. Too long, and your horse has ease of access to reach around and bite someone working around it, or risk getting a leg over the rope again. A rope tied too long also allows for your horse to move around more freely, taking the risk of it striking neighboring horses or people. Moreover, a horse that pulls back on a loose rope will be on the receiving end of a more harsh jolt when it meets the end of the rope.
4.) Never tie your horse to a trailer that is not hitched to a vehicle.
This is especially true when it comes to two-horse, bumper-pull trailers. Horses are powerful animals; a large horse can easily move a trailer if he wants to get away. Not only do you risk damage to your trailer, you also risk your horse injuring himself, or worse, someone else. Secondly, when tying to a tie ring on your trailer, make sure to check the undercarriage for any sharp edges. You always want to try and eliminate anything your horse could severely injure himself on.
5.) Never, ever tie your horse with the reins.
I repeat: never, ever tie your horse with the reins. Just because they do it in the old Westerns, doesn’t mean that you should, too. If you feel the need to tie your horse while it is bridled, leave the halter on beneath the bridle and bring a lead rope so you have a more safe and secure means of tying. Tying with the reins runs the risk of major injury to your horse, including busted teeth, tongue lacerations, lip and gum injury, or even a broken jaw.