Tying up can be a tricky thing with horses. Most are fine. Some aren’t happy and will try their best to get away. Once they do, it’s a great game to keep on tugging until something gives.
This proved a nearly deadly game to a certain horse – let’s call him ‘The Grey’.
The Grey always had an issue with being tied up – he’d been taught properly, but almost every time he was tied, he would jerk his head to try to break something. He never did, never got away. The People thought he would grow out of it, eventually, but he never did.
The Grey went off for some pre-training and tried the same antics. A bum rope did the trick, apparently, and he was fine for a while.
We might add that The Grey has never had any problems with bridling, saddling, riding, or any other handling – the years of on and off tugging appeared not to have had adverse effects.
Fast forward a couple of years and The Grey is happily in work, tying up no problem to the hitching rail, with a rope halter and tied on an inner tube.
Then all hell breaks loose. The Grey goes nuts and starts pulling back like he’s seen the devil. Up, down, recoiling back, legs in the air, head and body smashing to the ground with a thud as the inner tube and rope halter stretch. Leaping up, thrashing down, even getting so high that he crashed his head into a window far above the tie-up area. Then crashing down on the hosing area, breaking the fittings and causing a fountain of high-pressure water to cascade in the air.
All the while The People are pulling on the rope to untie the quick-release knot – not so easy when it’s pulled tight. But eventually, it gave and The Grey was free.
Free from the horror, The Grey staggered off like a drunk, looking the world to The People like a dead horse walking.
There was blood. Not as much as one would expect, but there were some 32 nicks from the glass on various parts of The Grey’s body, including about a dozen inside his mouth. One awful gash on his head looked particularly nasty, so The Vet was called. Thankfully no glass embedded anywhere, but a stitch to add to The Grey’s now rugged good looks was applied.
Not only had the glass cut him virtually all over, it also shaved off some of his eyelashes, and other parts of his head. Close call.
Had the rope been fixed solidly instead of with the inner tube, the end result could have been much, much worse. And thank goodness the hitching rail stayed firm – there could have been a dragging disaster, too.
The Grey recovered well and showed no ill effects – mental or physical – from the episode. Needless to say he is not tied up any more – when he hears a leadrope clip he gets anxious. So there is nothing to be gained from forcing the issue – it’s not always convenient, but it’s 100% safe.
Safe tying up. Does it exist? There are almost as many methods as there are horse folks. Some use that awful plastic bale string that doesn’t break (bad idea). Others use the hemp twine, which does. Inner tubes or other rubber systems are great for teaching youngsters – there is give if they get into trouble.
Had such a thing as the Safe-T-Tie been around when The Grey had his episode, much grief would have been spared.
This invention is designed to prevent injuries in panic situations when a horse can’t break free in an emergency. It has five settings and is designed to open instantly when placed under sudden pressure, but stays locked when tested by horses used to getting free when pulling back steadily.
The user adjusts the setting by simply choosing the notch they wish to engage – one notch is the lightest setting which even a person can pull apart, while at five notches it takes some horsepower to pull it apart.
They are easy to use – The People have now installed these in their stables with a permanent lead rope tied to the Safe-T-Tie. They are obviously portable and can easily clip onto horse floats or trailers or tie-up rings, and appear unbreakable, thanks to the give-way mechanism.
The Safe-T-Tie has won design awards, and was created by an Australian team including engineers, veterinary nurses, and equine muscular therapists who have seen and worked with the problems created by tying up disasters: “back injuries, neck injuries, head injuries, and even broken necks and death”.
The designers say: “We have seen it all. Some people try using a temporary solution such as baling twine to attempt to fix the problem, and this can only make it worse; some horses know just how much force they need to exert to break free from a weak tether or a substandard horse safety release. Believing that they can free themselves from any tie, they sometimes pull when not tied with a breakaway device, leading to injury or death.”
The pricing is pretty sharp, so it won’t break the bank to kit out the stables or truck with the Safe-T-Tie system.
In a nutshell, very clever, and very simple.
More information: http://www.horsetieups.com/
NZ: Kerry Blakemore [email protected]; visit on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/HorseProductsNz
USA Ph: 877-778-7559 / Fax: 877-778-5195
Australia Ph: 03-9775-0668 / Fax: 03-9770-8410 Facebook http://www.facebook.com/HorseSafetyTie