Know Your Knots

So you hear that rope halters are suppose to be better than the nylon halters.  And it’s better to use a rope that doesn’t have snaps that could break if the horse pulls back.  So you go out and buy these items, unfortunately they weren’t equipped with an instruction manual on how to tie all the knots needed to use them. There are several knots I use practically every time I work with my horses.  I’m going to show you step by step how to tie your rope halter, your rope to your rope halter, a quick release knot, and a bow-line knot.

Rope Halter

Rope halters are all the rage with trainers.   Nylon halters are wide and lie flat on your horse, where as rope halters are more narrow so your horse learns to give to pressure more easily and quickly.  Rope halters are typically made of yachting braid or climbing rope, which is some of the strongest rope made.  Also they are made with one continuous piece of rope which increases their strength.  On nylon halters anywhere there is a seam or buckle, there is a likelihood your halter could break.  Since there are no buckles on rope halters you must learn how to tie them. First hold the eye -loop portion with your left hand, and with your right hand bring the tail end through the back of the eye and pull it to the right. 

Bring the tail end behind the eye creating a loop on the right side of the eye, and the tail end sticking out to the left.

Now take the tail end over the eye and through the loop on the right side.

With your left hand holding the bottom of the eye loop, use your right hand to pull the tail end to tighten your knot.

It is important to tie your knot around the eye as shown.  Done this way if your horse happens to pull back your knot won’t tighten so much that you can’t get your halter untied.

Rope to Halter

Everybody has their favorite lead ropes.  I like to  use plain old 1/2 inch yachting rope or nylon rope most of the time. It’s fairly inexpensive and any farm-supply store, and you can buy whatever length you want.  I typically use an eight foot piece for tying and leading my horses and a 15 to 20 foot piece for ground working my horses.  I use to always have ropes with the big bull snaps on them, but I have found that given enough pressure they will break.  I have yet to see a horse break a nylon rope with no snaps.  Some people use fancy knots to fasten their ropes to their halters; however, I found that this method works best for me.  First bring the end of your rope through the loop of the halter. (I grabbed the wrong rope and the one I’m using has a knot in the end.  Typically my ropes don’t have this knot).

Next take the tail end and go all the way around the loop.

Then tuck the tail end back into the loop.

Then pull the tail end down to tighten your knot.I try to leave about a six inch tail on the end.  I’ve had horses pull back pretty hard on these knots, and I’ve never seen one slip out, break or get so tight I couldn’t get it undone.

Quick Release Knot

The quick release knot is a great knot to use for tying up your horse.  It’s so great because it’s so easy to untie.  The first step in this knot is to put your rope around the post or whatever you happen to be tying your horse to and hold both sides of the rope in your right hand.

Holding both sides of the rope in your right, put the tail end of the rope over the top (in front of your right hand).  This will create a loop on the left side of the rope.

Place your left hand through the loop and grab the loose end right below where it crosses over the top and pull a loop through the loop you made in the previous step.

Pull on the new loop to tighten the first loop but don’t pull the end all the way through.

And that is your quick release knot.  The knot will slide down so that you can tighten it on the post.  The best part of this knot is that you can just pull the tail end and untie it.  Because it is easy to untie I like to tuck the tail end of my rope through the loop so my horses aren’t untying themselves.

This is what the finished knot will look like with the tail end tucked through the loop.

Bow-Line Knot

The bow-line knot is a knot that every horse owner should learn to tie.  The reason it is so great is that the loop you create doesn’t change size and the knot itself will never become tight.  This is a knot I use when tying up horses that have a habit of pulling back.  I also use the bow-line when I’m preforming my pre-ride check with my horse.  I simply tie the knot in a rope around my curb strap and do my ground work on with my horse.  Step one is to place the rope around the post .

Next you twist the rope and make a loop in rope on the side that is connected to your horse as shown below.

Then you bring your tail end up through the hole, or like I like to say “the rabbit comes up out of the hole.”The tail end now goes down and around the back of the rope. “The rabbit runs behind and around the tree.”The loose end then goes over the top of the rope and back through the hole. “The rabbit goes back down the hole.”You pull your ends snug, and there you have a bow-line knot.

The last two knots I showed you can be a little tricky.  Don’t get discouraged, just keep practicing, and eventually they will get easier to tie.  I also have a video of me tying these knots if you would like to see them tied in motion.