When tying up goes wrong (and how to prevent it)

Tying up The Grey went horribly wrong one day.
Tying up The Grey went horribly wrong one day.

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 now sports a raft of new scars from his ordeal.
The Grey now sports a raft of new scars from his ordeal.Cuts and grazes adorned his legs. Cuts and grazes adorned his legs.

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.

The Safe-T-Tie at its strongest setting.
The Safe-T-Tie at its strongest setting.

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 on the second setting.
The Safe-T-Tie on the second setting.

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 kerry@horsetieups.com; 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

The Safe-T-Tie showing the five fastening areas.
The Safe-T-Tie showing the five settings.


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The Safe-T-Ties come in several colors, to match most stable or team colors.
A box of 30 Safe-T-Ties will contain six of each color: black, blue, red, green and pink, to match most stable or team decor.



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4 thoughts on “When tying up goes wrong (and how to prevent it)

  • September 25, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    this looks like a great invention to prevent injuries.

  • November 27, 2016 at 12:04 am

    Can I have a price on this item?

  • June 22, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    I have an 8 year old TB that I got off the track, but he never wanted to run. I’ve had him since he was 3 and he has been to many areas and horse shows, and happily stays tied to the trailer. Recently I moved to the barn my sister is at. Her horse is obnoxious (seriously, one who takes advantage of any clemency or tolerance, but she loves him and in general he is awesome) and has a habit of halters and lead ropes. He suddenly sets back, and it looks like panic because it is completely willful, and breaks away.
    At this new place sister’s horse did this, next to my horse, who broke away, too. Then it happened again. Since then my guy (who for 5 years NEVER did anything like that) has made a bit of habit of this.
    My last TB found out he could break away, so I bought a great halter, put new U thingies on my trailer that are unbreakable, and stopped. I came back to the trailer and the steel U was bent sideways a bit, but the horse was still there, and eating hay.
    Any advice? The man that made and sold these amazing unbreakable pull-back halters does not seem to be around anymore. Byron Grant, I think his name was, and these things were amazing.
    Andi Fox


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