So it’s 2021- there may not be a hitching post at the grocery store, library, and bank anymore. But for that matter, there might not be a hitching post or any type of specified tie area for your horse even when trailering to events! It is important to be able to tie a horse correctly for safety and efficiency under any circumstances. Here’s how to tie a horse to a hitching post when you only have a standard lead rope:
How to Tie a Horse to a Hitching Post with Quick-Release Knots
Quick-release knots are a staple for horse owners. Although various knots are a good tool in general for farm and livestock operations, quick releases have one primary purpose: safety. Because you are working with live animals, there is always some degree of risk. Horses are independent thinking animals with emotions, fears, and most importantly, prey instincts. This means a flight or fight response mechanism. Quick-release knots allow a horse to be freed quickly with a simple tug, using minimal interference with maximum distance. They can be especially useful if a horse goes down while tied- as we do are unable to physically and safely get a 1,000-pound horse back on its feet!
There are many types of quick-release knots. Some are best suited for vertical hitching posts, horizontal hitching posts, trailers, or tie rings. Here is a great link to learn the ideal quick-release knot for you and your horse. The most common is the chain sinnet. This site includes:
- Chain sinnet
- Halter hitch
- Highwayman’s hitch
- Manger hitch
- Mooring hitch
- Ring hitch
- Siberian hitch
- Slip knot
To Tie a Chain Sinnet
You will make a “noose” out of the rope, and then forming a loop and tucking it into the noose. Then you create an additional loop and tuck it into the loop you previously made, repeating the pattern. This is a quick-release. To secure it, a simple “lock” is made by passing the end through the final loop.
Be Prepared to Tie a Horse to a Post
When trailering or riding a horse to a location where they will be hitched, it’s important to be prepared. Although ground tying is a great training tool, it is best to prepare for multiple situations. This might mean single rails, tie rings, safety clips, or even cross ties. Part of the preparation is identifying high-risk scenarios. This can include other horses, flying debris, playing children, sporting games with flying balls, etc. In these high-risk situations, it might be best to remain with your horse in your hands until the environment is calmer.
Prepare at Home
The best preparation for tying your horse is by practicing at home. This is useful for your own grooming and saddling. It will also be important for future vet visits, farrier days, and of course, trailering and travel. Regardless of your preferred tying method, it’s practical to teach your horse multiple methods in case your standard tie-out is not available. This includes cross ties, singles ties, and possibly even ground tying. Tying patiently is important as it can pose a safety risk when horses are unable to do so.
- DO use a properly fitting halter and actual lead rope or tie strap. Other materials may not tie well or handle intended tension. Ill-fitting halters can result in a horse getting lose or caught.
- DO assess the area and situation to ensure it is safe with minimal risk.
- DO check the hitching post or attaching hitch to ensure it is stable and will not break if the horse pulls back.
- DO use a quick-release knot in case of an emergency.
- DO practice at home. This will make traveling easier and less stressful if it’s something your horse is used to.
- DON’T tie a horse low or with too much slack where legs can go over the rope.
- DON’T tie a horse with no slack. This will cause them to stand unnaturally and they may feel trapped.
- DON’T tie to anything that can move, such as a gate or tree limb.
- DON’T ever tie from the reins/bit. Always use a properly fitting halter.
- DON’T leave your horse unattended.
- DON’T tie near loose objects that may injure or spook if they fall. Horses are nosey too!
Learning a quick-release knot is one of the best tools you can have for learning to tie a horse to a hitching post. As with everything we do, safety is a priority. These are 1,000-pound independently thinking animals! Be sure to take the necessary precautions, and you’ll be able to tie wherever you go.
It’s almost spring! Be sure to share this article with your friends before their next ride.