A Guide To Tying Your Horse or Pony Safely

May 16, 2022

A Guide To Tying Your Horse or Pony Safely

When you are tacking up, grooming, or doing other forms of horse care, it's useful to be able to tie your horse or pony, so he can't wander off. You can tie your horse using a lead rope, cross ties, or trailer ties. However, it is crucial to tie your horse safely to prevent him from panicking and hurting himself, you, or any other horses and riders near you. 

Tying up an equine is a process and a bigger deal than you may realize. There are right and wrong ways to tie for optimal horse safety. Typically, equestrians feel a horse should be able to get loose in an emergency than be held fast, which can cause significant distress.

Let's explore how you can tie your horse safely. 

Where and Where Not to Tie Your Horse

When you tie up your equine friend, make sure the rope is at least chest height. Check that it doesn't reach the ground where you or the horse can step on it. Don't tie the horse too tightly to the post. 

You should never attach your tie rope to the bit or reins. If the horse panics, he can injure his mouth, resulting in long-term repercussions and emergency horse care

You can tie your horse or pony to a firmly anchored fence post or a wall with tie rings. Don’t tie him to anything that moves or isn't firmly anchored. You'll need to engage your common sense here! Avoid tying to:

  • Flimsy or loose partition boards
  • Logs
  • Chairs
  • Rails
  • Vehicle tailgates

Types of Ties

Not sure which types of ties will work while satisfying horse safety 101? 

There are a few different ways you can tie your equine buddy. Some of the most common methods include the following. 

Lead Rope 

You can use a 1 to 1.5 diameter thick cotton lead rope for tying. Leather or webbed flat leads are less ideal, though you can still use them if you don't have anything else at hand. 

When using a lead rope, you should never tie a pony directly to a post or ring. You should always use a thin piece of string or twine and tie the lead rope to it. 

If your horse gets spooked or panics, then the string will break and allow him to get away from the pressure of the lead rope, which is likely to exacerbate his panic if he can't get away. 

When using a lead rope to tie your horse, you should also consider the type of knot you make. You should always employ the quick release knot method so the horse can get loose if he is badly spooked. 

Cross Ties

Not all barns and yards have cross-tying facilities, but it is an extremely useful and convenient method of tying your horse if they do. It's a great option for ticklish horses that tend to nip when being groomed or for especially restless horses.

The method involves tying up both sides of the horse's head. The ties will be attached to secure objects like posts or stall walls. The ties should not restrict the horse's head totally. He should be able to put his head down comfortably but not be able to step on or get tangled in the tie ropes. 

As with a lead rope, the cross ties should be attached to twine or string that can break if he struggles against the ropes. Chains are not a good option. They can cause much damage if the horse breaks free with them still attached to him.  

Trailer Ties

Trailer ties are another well-known tying option. They are typically attached to a horse trailer when at a show or to a post, but it is safer to use a post. Trailer ties can be a bit short and restrictive, however. 

They are sometimes only 18" long, which is not enough length for you to work around your horse freely, or for him to be comfortable. You can buy longer ties of about three feet long, which are much better. 

Trailer ties are sometimes made with quick-release snaps built-in, which is a fantastic option for horse safety. Just make sure the quick-release claps remain well-oiled and do not ice up in winter, so they perform as intended.

Train Your Horse to Tie

Now that you know what to do, it's time to make sure your horse does as well. Your new equine friend may not be trained to tie when you first get him. Be sure to ask the previous owner if he has been trained to tie or not and if there are any issues there. 

If your equine has not been taught to be tied, then you will need to carefully teach him in a way that ensures horse safety:

  • The first thing you will need to do is some groundwork for developing communication and trust between you. Make sure he will stand still when you ask him to, for as long as you decide. This is the ultimate goal; he will be less likely to pull against the rope if he understands this. 
  • You can then slowly start introducing whichever tying method you prefer and get your pony to stand for progressively longer periods. 

You should never leave your horse entirely unattended when he is tied. Things can go wrong in a matter of seconds. It is best not to tie your horse and rather put him in a secure stall or hold him if he is a bit jumpy. 


As you can see, tying up your equine friend in a way that ensures horse safety is an art. It requires patience and time to train your horse to tie up properly, and it requires a solid dollop of horse sense and reason. The best thing to do is practice tying whenever you can and learn from the previous owner about the horse's previous relationship to ties. 

For more on how to tie your pony safely and other horse care tips, be sure to join our mailing list

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