How to Tie a Horse

A horse tied to a hitching post.
A horse tied to a hitching post.
  1. Sane - Safe - Secure

    Securing a horse by tying is a basic skill for everyone that handles horses. Surprisingly, many horse enthusiasts have not mastered this basic skill.

    This slideshow illustrates a common technique for tying a horse, and also suggests potentially dangerous practices that should be avoided.
  2. Step 1

    The following sequence gives step by step illustrations for tying a slip knot. Use this knot to tie a horse to a tie ring secured to a tie post capable of restraining the horse.

    A slip knot is used as it is easy to untie when you need your horse. Many knots will tighten to the point that they are extremely difficult to untie - especially if there is an emergency situation.

    Start by threading the lead rope through the tie ring from front to back.
  3. Step 2

    Pull the tail of the rope through the ring. How much to pull through depends on the height of the ring, the length of the lead rope, and how tight or loose you wish to tie your horse.

    In general, an arms length of rope between the tie ring and the horse is adequate.
  4. Step 3

    Take the rope that was threaded through the ring and form a small loop by folding the rope underneath itself.
  5. Step 4

    With your other hand, take a fold of the rope around the lead rope and push it through the small loop you made in Step 3.
  6. Step 5

    Now pull the folded loop through the smaller loop.
  7. Step 6

    Grasp the knot and push it up to the ring and pull the folded loop until the slipknot is tight.
  8. The finished knot

    This is the finished knot. To untie it, simply pull the tail. The knot will pull loose.

    Some horses are capable of untying themselves when tied with a slip knot. Horses are normally mouthy, and left to their devices, will eventually pick up and pull the tail of the knot thus freeing themselves.

    To prevent this, take the tail and loosely put it through the exposed loop. Before untying the horse, you will need to remove the tail from the loop prior to pulling
  9. Never - Tie a horse to a moveable object

    Many novice horse owners accidently tie their horse to a gate.  If the horse pulls back, the gate can suddenly move toward the horse. This may frighten the horse and cause it to pull back to escape the approaching gate!
  10. Never - Tie a horse to a bush or small tree

    A horse pulling back can easily uproot a bush or small tree. Always assume that your horse is going to spook and pull back occasionally. The tie point must be able to sustain a reasonable pull without MOVING or BREAKING.
  11. Never - Tie a horse to a wire fence

    Injuries from contact with wire fences are well known to veterinarians. A wire fence is never a suitable location for tying your horse.
  12. Never - Tie a horse to a trailer without a connected tow vehicle

    A horse may pull a reasonably large trailer if it is not attached to a tow vehicle. If more than one horse is tied to the trailer, additional danger is present. Only tie a horse to a trailer that is connected to the tow vehicle..

About the Author

Mark Sellers

Author picture

Mark is the founder of EquiMed.  Prior to EquiMed, Mark was the CEO and founder of Pacific Crest Corporation, a maker of wireless communication devices and now a subsidiary of Trimble Navigation.

Mark trains and shows reining horses, and is a member of the West Coast Reining Horse Association, the NRHA affiliate in Northern California.  Mark also breeds and exhibits Mediterranean Donkeys.

Mark has a strong interest in equine health.  This website is the result of Mark's and numerous other contributor's efforts to make equine health information accessible to the horse owner.